Sharpen the Arrow

I’m pondering the message I am going to preach in a few days.  It is one of several required at a conference.  I have the subject, which leaves me with almost the whole canon as potential preaching fodder.  Now I am sharpening.

The temptation is not to sharpen, but to cram bulk into the message.  How many bits of a brilliant Bible can I pack into the message in order to touch on as many good bits as possible?  Bad idea.  A big and bulky message will not communicate, it will not carry well.  It will drop like a lead balloon before it gets to the first row.

Much better to remove bulk and sharpen the arrow.  That is, instead of trying to get a lot across, I should try to effectively get the main thing across.  Better for people to leave with the main thing firmly embedded in their hearts than with the experience of watching a preacher fail to communicate (and carrying nothing away themselves).  This is obvious, but the problem is that it is also painful.

To sharpen the arrow I probably need to lose the content from that part of the Bible, and that part too, oh, and that bit.  The only way to sharpen metal is to remove bulk.  So by faith, prayer and work I need to sharpen the message so that it will communicate more effectively.

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7 thoughts on “Sharpen the Arrow

  1. Hi Peter, Taking your analogy further you need enough bulk to make the arrow penetrate but it needs to have only one point. Steve

  2. Bro I heard someone say ‘Throw them a basket ball not a bucket full of tennis balls’. Give them one big thing – it is easier to catch and hopefully digest.

  3. To go further with the analogy of the arrow. As an archer who enjoys hunting big game, and with the goal to penetrate the vital organs (i.e. the heart/lungs) with the arrow. I shoot an arrow that has a 100 grain razor tip, with the shaft weighing roughly 300 grains and the fletches and nock around 30 grains. The straight shaft and the fletches cause the arrow to fly straight and the tip is to cause the bleeding. If I were to shoot just the 100 grain tip at an elk I might penetrate the hide and cause a little bleeding but never get to the vital organs. With an arrow of around 430 grains the arrow will pass right though the animal. Now I know that the analogy breaks down, but there are significant parallels in preaching a text of scripture. If I find some good sharp point in the text I could cause some surface bleeding but if I use the text and the context to bring weight to the text and allow the particulars in the text act as the fletches which will help guide the arrow to its mark, then the point will penetrate the vitals (heart) of the hearers. Now I feel the need to say again, my goal as a preacher is not to kill the hearers, just to get the point of the text and sermon into their hearts.

  4. I forgot to say that alot of extemporaneous material slows the arrow down and can disrupt the flight of the arrow. I shoot enough weight to get it to fly straight and hit the mark, not so much that the arrow won’t have enough inertia to penetrate. This is something I struggled with as I began to preach and gradually I am learning and still learning how to take off extra material.

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