First-Person Dangers

When you have an idea and a purpose for your sermon, you then choose the strategy that will best allow the idea to hit home.  Once you realize the potential in first-person sermons, this form will regularly suggest itself.  First-person preaching done well can be immensely powerful and profoundly effective.  But there are also a few dangers.  I’ll gently share a few, perhaps you can suggest others.  This is not to dissuade preaching in the first-person, but to encourage careful planning so that it is maximally effective.

Danger 1 – Don’t leaning on the form to do the work. Just because first person preaching has an inherent interest factor, you cannot rely on that to carry you through.  The form is a strategy chosen to serve the main idea, not a master that defines your content.  It is easy to pour energy into the “first-person” part of the sermon and fail to put the effort into the “sermon” part of the first-person.  The form may help, or it may utterly hinder your task of preaching the Word!

Danger 2 – Preaching event rather than text. It is enlightening to bring good first-person perspective to a Bible story or message, but remember that it is the text that was inspired, not the event itself. Don’t just bounce off the text to preach an event, but rather study the text and be sure to preach its message. 

Danger 3 – Not doing the extra work necessary. There are no two-ways about it, first-person preaching is extra work.  You have to do all the same work as any other sermon in terms of studying the text and the audience, formulating main idea and so on.  Plus you have to study extra historical, geographical, social, and cultural background.  Furthermore you are adding a dramatic element that takes extra work (just as a powerpoint is extra work and can easily suck away preparation time if you don’t recognize that!)

In part 2 I’ll add some more dangers to be aware of, but feel free to add any you like by commenting at any time.

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