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Tips to Get Started with Collaborative Preaching

Set the table

It's Friday morning, and you're looking at each other. Now what? The possibilities are endless. But start by building relationships. That happens as you share about your life and pray with one another. Invite the Spirit's leadership over what's about to happen.

Use technology

We use Google Drive. Each team member has the same document open on their laptop or tablet. This allows everyone to see what's going on. You can choose a scribe or let everyone contribute. A few headings help organize your thoughts: title, text, main point, structure, illustrations, supportive material, tough questions, etc. Google Drive also allows collaboration throughout the week as ideas surface.

Plan sermons

I'm a fan of series preaching whether we are doing a book of the Bible or a topic. A story arc is often discernible in a series that gives greater focus to each sermon. Then select a text and look at it together. What's going on? What questions does it raise? What answers does it offer? And how might it be communicated? This can go on for as long as you want, but at some point someone needs to suggest a big idea. What's the one unifying thought? Someone has to put it out there and be willing to receive doubting stares, clarifying questions, or high fives. Until you get this, all other work is potentially a waste of time. Once the main point is clarified, everything else starts to flow.

Map the structure

Will this sermon be deductive, inductive, narrative, problem/solution, contrasts, first-person narrative, etc.? You may not want to settle on this right away. Consider more than one option. Once you have the structure, you can start filling it in. Start making suggestions. It can be beneficial to let the brainstorming happen. Your first thought doesn't have to be the best one. Once you get the pump primed, you'll have many good options to choose from.

Be kind, be honest

Someone may have an idea that they think is absolutely amazing. And they may try to convince you to use it. But if you can't own it, if you can't say it with conviction, kindly say, "No thanks." Look for team members mature enough to hear "no" without taking it personally. You're the one who has to stand in front of the congregation, before God, and in front of the mirror. While you can be grateful for all contributions, many good ones will be left on the cutting room floor.

-E.F.

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