Project Documents

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Kenley D. Hall

Second Advisor

Donald C. Jacobsen

Third Advisor

Skip Bell

Abstract

Problem. Research (Rainer, 2001) indicates that people come back to church because of the sermon. Additionally, it is argued (Anderson, 2006) that the church and culture have changed. People today have higher expectations of the quality of what happens. Therefore, the expectation is much higher for the quality of a sermon. Yet, the sermon development process is still traditionally a private and closed system involving the pastor alone. This underutilizes a resource of creative people who could assist the pastor with research, writing, creativity, reflection and evaluation of the manuscript and graphics.

Method. In this study I sought to lay a theological foundation of the value of utilizing various people’s giftedness. A careful study of 1 Cor 12-14 was completed with this prospect in mind and this extended passage shows that teamwork is an important aspect of the church as members work together according to their giftedness. This brings about a unity and diversity discussion which should ultimately benefit the church. Furthermore, a thorough review of the literature was done focusing first on what a collaborative sermon preparation team is, why various people choose to create sermons in this manner, how different groups choose to collaborate around the message building and finally, what are the pros and cons. It was shown that most preachers use a simple form of collaboration with nothing else but the use of commentaries. This part of the study showed some well-thought-out methods for improving this collaborative effect. I developed a collaborative sermon preparation team from regular attenders in the Seventh-day Adventist Community Church. This team consisted of four people who had theology degrees, another who studied theology in school, an attorney with gifts toward evangelism, a female elder who is also a regular speaker, a lady who has written three books and another lady with gifts toward evangelism and outreach. This team met for seven weeks and developed four sermons. They created a collaborative process. This study was evaluated by a qualitative focus group approach to collecting data. All the people on the focus groups attended a minimum of three of the four sermons preached at the Seventh-day Adventist Community Church of Vancouver, WA. The sermon preparation team also participated in a short quantitative survey measuring what they felt the outcome of the process was to how well it came together in the week-to-week. The questions were structured to compare the project’s sermon series against the previous works that I preached. They evaluated the process as well as their input and participation in the project. I also made qualitative observations about the process. I did not use a comparison group for this methodology.

Results. The purpose of this project was to develop a method of sermon preparation that not only supported the work of the pastor, but also made the preached message clearer because of the talented focus team using their gifts towards this goal. It was designed to take the sermon preparation out of the pastor’s study and get it into the hands of a team of people who would not only strengthen the material, but also the actual preaching of the sermons as well. The results of this process was that we formed a team of nine people who met for eight weeks to develop a four-part sermon series. We met weekly together at the church and during the remainder of the week we met online. Only two members met with us online. Each weekly meeting was spent developing the upcoming three sermons. We brainstormed the appropriate texts for the most distant sermon – the one three weeks away. Then we crafted the outline of the sermon coming up in two weeks. And we poured over the manuscript of the coming week’s sermon.

Conclusions. In the end, this project did produce better than normal messages. The model we used, however, was too intense for the collaborative team to make it a perpetual part of the sermon preparation process. However, one of the strongest things we discovered was that the amount of time we actually put into preparing for the message – in the study part, that is the reading and researching -- actually makes the writing of the material flows very smoothly. But true to our goals, we did find that a crew of talented individuals contributing their gifts to a collaborative writing task, were able to be supportive players in the team equation of sermon preparation. With some tweaking, this could be a model for small churches who share a pastor, or for large congregations seeking to improve their overall message.

Subject Area

Preaching, Collaborative preaching

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