A little while back I offered the preparation process in terms of four locations: Study, Stop and Pray (Prayer Closet), Starbucks, Stand and Deliver (Pulpit). To finish this series on spaces I want to poke around in each of these four locations and prompt our thinking.
1. Study. I’ve talked about this over the past few days, but essentially the issue here is both noise and access to resources. To really concentrate on getting to grips with the exegesis means not being pulled away by other things. It also means being able to spread out the books, while also opening up the heart. Is it worth considering a separate desk for this? Is it possible to make the key resources easily accessible? Can you put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door?
2. Stop and Pray. This one is all about noise. The noise of people interrupting, the noise of phones beeping, the noise of tasks calling you. You need to silence them all. I suspect many of us can’t achieve this in our study or office. Would it be better to walk and pray with the mobile phone left at home? Would it be better to go to the church and pray through this phase in the place where you will preach the message? I find this helpful as it helps to prompt my prayers toward the specific people and families that will be there.
3. Starbucks. This one is about targeting the message. Personally I don’t find coffee shops the most conducive to concentrated preparation. But I see the argument in favour of them (as long as I have music in my ears instead of loud conversations from the volume-unaware that tend to sit near me in these places!) Somehow the goal here is to be sensitive and alert to the people and the kind of people to whom the message will be preached. This could be as simple as putting a couple of pictures up on the screen, or placing names on 3×5 cards on the desk, or being around people. But, if I can’t help but be distracted by being around people, it is better to get the work done in a room on my own!
4. Stand and Deliver. Different issue, but worthwhile . . . what are the issues in terms of preaching proxemics? Is there clutter in the preaching environment? Am I situated in the best place for this congregation? Should I come down to their level? Can I lose the seaworthy pulpit and be seen? Is there clutter from their perspective?