i’ve been teaching weekly for about 16 years in the church context as well as conferences/camps/etc. this has ranged from junior/high school ministry to college ministry to sunday morning services, from a mega church to a church plant. i’ve tried many different things in my prep, done my notes a multitude of different ways…on and on. in my pursuit to continue learning i recently tried something new: i put together a sermon prep team. this team is made up of 5 other people that i meet with every week (i want to add some others too, actually). so, i thought i would do a short series here about what i’m learning about using this format. hopefully it will cause you to consider it at some level. i think i will break this series up in the following ways:
1. benefits of using a “prep team”
2. types of people to have on a team like this
3. the format of our meetings – what we actually do
today i will simply start by listing out some benefits i’m finding with using a team to help me prepare:
1. train people. it’s not too often people see how a pastor preps for a message. and it’s far less that they actually get to be a part of the entire process. i’m finding this tremendously helpful for training others.
2. unity of the team. my team is made up of staff and non-paid interns, so doing this together keeps everyone dialed in and totally on the same page. i’m finding this to be very helpful with culture building. we are all a deeply in tune with what God is teaching us and what we are teaching the people in our church.
3. immediate feedback. i’ve always prepped for my messages alone. i don’t read books on the subject and actually try to limit my reading of commentaries (i can explain why that is later). i’m finding it to be a huge help to be able to bounce ideas off the team and get immediate feedback on it. the truth is a lot of my ideas are not good…and this way i get to find that out before i walk on stage!
4. amazing ideas. i lead the discussion and guide the thought process and ask the questions, but the bottom line is the people in the room come up with some brilliant thoughts that i’m pretty sure i would not have. and this isn’t just ideas for illustrations or creative things, but also ideas on how to articulate thoughts precisely and in a way that is truly helpful. we all feed off each other and collectively get to places that none of us would have alone.
5. less prep time in general. because we are all in it together i’m finding the time it takes me to prep for a message is far less than it used to be. this is a big benefit that i frankly did not see coming.
6. less stress. it’s interesting that this approach lessens the amount of pressure or stress i feel. the weight is ultimately on me (i guess) but it’s entirely freeing to have a team that is taking this seriously to the point of collectively taking responsibility for what i will be teaching.
i’m sure there are more benefits i’m finding than this, but those are on the front of my mind right now. i’ll continue in the next post with the types of people i’m finding to be helpful to have in the room and a part of this team. the bottom line is, i don’t see how i can ever go back to prepping in silo.