inspiration happens!

the other night i posted an entry about my ongoing doctoral studies in preaching. i was not comfortable with my project proposal. even while i wrote that, i began to think of something i was interested in developing further: how do preachers decide what to preach to their congregations?

for lectionary preachers it's pretty simple: there are four texts from which to choose every week. pick one and get to work. one frustration i have had with the lectionary in the past is there is little or no flow from week to week-- outside of the seasons of the year, advent and lent, when the texts deliberately move us from one place to the next. i like to think not just week to week but month to month, or even year to year, and so preaching a series of sermons, like one i just finished yesterday, "walking with Jesus," is appealing. for the next couple of months i will be 100% out of the lectionary. God seems to be stretching me in a different direction right now.

last week christy-- not me, and not both of us, just christy-- received a postcard inviting her to another local congregation to hear a new preaching series on dealing with obstacles and challenges of everyday life. she has not said if she plans on attending. how did that preacher select those themes? did he hear parishioners talking about needing an instruction manual or needing help with finances? are these general needs in the community?

sermons ought to be constructed with the specific congregation in mind. not necessarily individual needs but what does God want these folk to hear this week? how do preachers discern that? and how are sermons preached in one location and beamed to another via satellite relevant for the second congregation? how does the pastor of the multi-million dollar megachurch prepare, and is it different for the local pastor who regularly preaches to 30 members?

these questions began to pour into my mind the other night, and i think i can mold them into a pretty interesting discussion for a doctoral project. it will involve lots of reading and interviews, but it will be good for me, because i am sturggling with these thoughts myself-- as the last two entries on the blog show. so for today i am feeling excited about going to k.c. next month for classes. now i think i can actually open my books with titles like writing your dissertation in fifteen minutes a day or projects that matter or a manual for writers of term papers, theses, and dissertations and not feel too overwhelmed. well...