Pastors use a variety of tools to prepare their sermons. Commentaries, Greek/Hebrew texts, language lexicons, biblical theology books and other sermons on a passage all aid the preacher in his preparation for his weekly sermon. Here is a tool that will probably not be taught in a seminary class, but has been one of my most unexpected, yet helpful tools for my weekly sermon prep. Here it is:
“The insights of my children on the passage I am preaching as I read it with them throughout the week”
It has been said the difficult task of the local church pastor is to preach a weekly sermon faithfully, clearly, and in such a way that it can be plainly understood by an 8 or 80 year old. I have found conversations with my children about the text, seeing what they grasp well, what kinds of questions they have, and what appears to be harder to follow have become a helpful guide in how I approach explaining the passage to the congregation as a whole on Sunday.
I came to realize this unexpected, yet helpful tool for sermon prep through our regular family worship time as well as times of individual discipleship, which still remains the main reason to have these kinds of conversations. However, I am grateful that these times with my family show to have layers of benefit that extend even to the benefit of our church on Sunday.
So, when an elderly widow gives the encouraging word after the service that she is following the sermons better than ever (which I have heard in recent years) I am reminded of yet one more way that God uses our children in our lives to push us to grow, mature, and simplify in ways we would not without them.