The Preacher’s Cutting Room

Watching a movie on VHS was simple. Watch it, rewind it, return it. Now we use DVDs – watch it, then watch as many hours of extra bonus material as you can tolerate! You can enjoy “The Making of . . .” and “Meet the cast . . .” and “Humorous gaffes.” Then there is also “Deleted scenes.”

A scene might take days to film, more days to edit, cost thousands of dollars, and then be mercilessly cut from the final edition of the film. One such scene was in the movie Gladiator. As Maximus waited under the Coliseum, he looked out through a barred window to see Christians praying as the lions approached. A powerful scene, very moving. It was cut.

The director’s commentary on the scene explained the situation. It did not help the progress of the plot. It was potentially overwhelming, too weighty.

After many hours of preparing a sermon, get out the scissors. It isn’t easy, but there may be an element of explanation, an illustration, or a story that does not help the message, or may overwhelm it. If it would not be missed, or if its absence would not result in reduced understanding of the message . . . cut it. Perhaps when your sermon is on a DVD you can make it available, but for now we are still preaching in VHS.

2 thoughts on “The Preacher’s Cutting Room

  1. Good Point,

    One of my homiletics professors state that the difference between a good sermon and a great sermon happens when the preacher is willing to go line by line editing the preacher’s sermon.

    I talk about this in my own ebook on preaching. I will probably borrow your metaphor of the director’s cutting room floor in my next edition…

  2. This is a great point, but one that is so hard to do. I like the VHS-DVD comparison. In retrospect, there were several sections that I probably should have cut out of yesterday’ s message to bring a greater focus to the whole.

    And then there is the somewhat related topic of editing on the fly as you preach, depending on time and circumstances.

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