“How can we help others to handle God’s word and to teach it faithfully and persuasively? Is there a way in which we can let ministry trainees/apprentices in on the “personal aspect” of our talk prep so that they can learn from it?
I have experimented with trying to let them see – and contribute to – some of the prep that I normally do in private.
For me, sermon prep starts with text work on a Monday morning. I’ve invited our apprentices to join me for half an hour at the very start of this prep. Having prayed for the Spirit’s help and read the passage out loud, we start work on the text together. I show them the kind of things I write down, the sort of questions I ask and the investigations I intend to pursue. I ask them to spend some time that day doing some more work on the text.
We then meet together for another half-hour the following morning. In these meetings we talk through what they have discovered and I share the progress I’ve made. I try to be honest about where I am struggling and the questions I still need to tackle. I try to show the benefits of scribbling thoughts down as I go along, and of summarising the big idea of the passage in an often-adjusted theme sentence.
If we reach some clarity about the big idea of the passage, I’ve suggested that they spend time asking some application questions before we next meet.
Ideally I’d be able to spend time with them on a Thursday morning, working on a skeleton sermon outline and thinking about other matters of presentation. I’d then want to follow up with them on Friday.
This is an experiment. It is still very much a work in progress. It may or may not work with the new group of apprentices starting this year. But, is it something that you could try with your trainees in some way?”