Instead of being a routine task on the checklist, what if sermon prep transformed you into the very word of God you preach? Instead of being a drain on you, what if the process itself renewed you? Instead of feeling insecure about your message, what if your skills made you confident to preach a consistently clear message of Good News, authentic to you, relevant to your listeners, holding their attention and inviting transformation? Backstory Preaching: Integrating Life, Spirituality, and Craft shows you how.
By integrating your life and spirituality with the practical skills necessary for effective preaching, you can move beyond the boredom, stress, or insecurity of preaching so it is no longer you who preach but Christ who preaches in you. By connecting with God in the midst of your sermon prep, the Gospel will be spread deeper and further. God's joy—and yours—will be made complete.
The Rev'd Lisa Kraske Cressman, DMin, has been noted for her preaching for twenty-five years. An Episcopal priest, preaching instructor, spiritual director, and retreat leader, she is founder and steward of Backstory Preaching®.
Long ago, Aristotle said that one of the three key ingredients in an effective communication situation is ethos, the listener's perception of the character of the speaker. Lisa Cressman goes significantly farther by emphasizing that the character, the person, of the preacher is formative for preachers themselves. We prepare for preaching by becoming people whose life is shaped by the gospel so that preaching is an authentic expression of who we are. The book helps preachers become aware in a critical way of the backstories that are at work in us and that inevitably contribute to our preaching, and she shows us how to deepen and broaden those stories through the practice of lectio divina.
Ronald J. Allen, Professor of Preaching, and Gospels and Letters, Christian Theological Seminary
Preachers who pick up this book will sit down for a wide-ranging, free-wheeling, vividly focused conversation with a colleague-one who knows firsthand, and who names succinctly not just the "in's and out's," but the "up's and down's" of the vocation you share. With art and energy, Lisa Cressman has written not a textbook for preaching, but a spirituality of preaching-one pervaded with compassionate wisdom and practical strategies for soul formation, sermon formation, and the disciplined practices of heart and mind that bring both together in a lifegiving process of mutually creative nurture. Unequivocal about the demands of the vocation and the disciplines it requires, she demonstrates how the duties of preaching can become sources of personal delight.
David J. Schlafer, author of Your Way with God's Word, and Playing with Fire: Preaching Work as Kindling Art
Backstory Preaching brings sermon formation and spiritual formation into a richly textured conversation. Cressman argues that life-giving sermons emerge within relationships of deep trust, shaped by spiritual authenticity and truth-telling. Reading this book and taking the suggested practices to heart will not only improve your preaching, but may also change your preaching ministry into a life-long spiritual journey.
John S. McClure, Charles G. Finney Professor of Preaching and Worship, Vanderbilt Divinity School
For every preacher who has wished for a trusted colleague with whom to share wisdom and insight about the craft of preaching, Lisa Cressman is a true find. An accomplished preacher herself, she writes candidly, conversationally, and compassionately-preacher-to-preacher, friend-to-friend-about both the stress and joy of crafting sermons. There is much valuable and practical advice to be gleaned in this volume, but the main virtue of this book is Cressman's compelling vision of the preaching task, so deeply rooted in prayer and so firmly focused on the gospel.
Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching, Candler School of Theology, Emory University