Between the start of the service and the sermon, there are lots of dynamics at play in the mind and heart of a speaker. This is especially true, I think, when you are a visiting speaker. In your own church you have less surprises and sometimes more influence over the first part of the service. Here’s the start of a list of pre-sermon dynamics with a few thoughts. Perhaps you can add to the list.
1. The Clock – sometimes the biggest dynamic of all. Announcements take longer, song introductions take longer, sometimes everything takes longer. Which means? You are supposed to preach shorter. So on the one hand, you have to consider where to trim the message (trim support material, not major material or transition material). On the other hand you have to avoid getting stressed or annoyed (it easily shows and does not help!)
2. The Content – a lot is usually said and sung before the sermon. On the one hand you need to listen to it so that you can integrate any elements that really fit with the message. On the other hand you have a message to pray over and think through. And if I can borrow someone’s hand, for me there are often humorous comments that come to mind that should usually be discarded rather than shared!
3. The Speaker Introduction – it is amazing what people say right before the message. Be aware of it, but be careful not to try a quick response without having the time to think it through first, it may not come across as you intend.
4. The Service Mood – your humorous and witty introduction may not fit after the tone set by the music. Adapt. Of course, that could go the other way too.
5. Your Focus – you need to be aware of these things and others that may be added to the list. You also need to be aware of your message. But somehow in the midst of that you have the opportunity to be praying about it all as well.
I preached yesterday evening, and it went okay. But to be honest, I made mistakes in 1 (lost the strength of transitions), 2 (a great song that I didn’t note the lyrics for use in the message), and 3 (quick response that didn’t come off as intended). Make a note and learn for next time. A forever student of preaching.