There are times when a preacher can find the task of crafting a sermon as inspiring as daring to write a book. With so many passages of scripture from which to pull a text from, you would think that it would be simple as one, two, three. However, preachers can be inspired in one moment and hit a wall the next. With so many preachers in churches, how can you be original? How can you take what was a thought or a burst of God given revelation and translate it to a sermon that is impactful? Thomas Troeger has written Imagining a Sermon to address these very questions.
What I appreciated about his book is that he goes right to the heart of the matter to point out how God has uniquely created us all to be imaginative. Then he goes on to show the reader how we can take that imagination, our experiences, our daily circumstances, and frame a message that will speak to those we are called to share the gospel with.
A challenge for me as well as some of my classmates who were given this book as a resource found that it left the Holy Spirit influence out as a major part of the imagining process. While some may not have an issue with this, for many preachers who want to be Spirit-led as they expound upon the word, this might present a slight challenge in the process of drawing upon the principles that are within the pages of this book. This book can also present a challenge to those preachers who are more set in their minds as to think that the only good sermon is rooted in strict expository, homiletical and exegetical work.
I personally do not see these things to be mutually exclusive, but a means of enhancing the whole of preaching. Therefore, Troeger’s book is one that I believe is fully engaging of the creative nature of one’s mind to take the text of scripture and help the preacher help the congregation relate to it with a present world contextualization. I believe that this is what Troeger intended and I believe that anyone who reads this book will come away with appreciating about it.
Another thing that I found good about this book is that it is not merely a presentation of theory and idea. It is also demonstrative in showing how you can take biblical text and apply the principles he speaks of appropriately. These examples can help a preacher see that it’s not just talk, but actionable.
I would say that this is a book that is good for preachers who want to be more engaging with the congregation through a more imaginative sermon. Taking an initial thought or inspiration for a sermon doesn’t have to be constricted to the biblical text and its exegesis. It is a resource that can help a preacher think differently about preaching and becoming unstuck in sermon preparation.
QUESTION: Have you ever found sermon preparation a struggle? What were some practical things that you’ve done to move beyond those blocks?