Coming up with a sermon title is not as easy as it sounds. And you may have noticed that not all of my titles make sense. For example, my recent sermon on Noah’s ark and the idea of covenant was “Will You Still Love Me When I’m 600”. I forgot to include in my sermon text that that was Noah’s age when he built the ark (and it was a play on words for the Beatles song “Will You Still Love Me….” Well, you get the point). I usually have to come up with Sunday’s sermon title on Tuesday which is long before I have given it much thought at all. The reason for the early deadline is that Marilyn has to start the bulletin, Janice has to choose hymns, Sandy has to start the powerpoint, etc. You are probably noticing that they all start their contribution to Sunday’s service several days before I do. Either they are much more organized (they probably are) or they recover their creative drive faster than I do. By Tuesday, I have just stopped thinking about the previous Sunday and am only just starting to contemplate (sort of) the upcoming Sunday.
I create my title from the lectionary text. Here’s how I do it: I read the text, develop a one or two sentence theme(another way to say it is that I put the text in my own words), then I narrow it down to a pithy, 5-7 word sentence, and then voila! out pops the sermon title.
Well, “out pops” is a little dramatic. Sometimes it pops. Sometimes it crawls begrudgingly out of my brain and onto the paper (or screen). During Lent this year I have a doubly difficult job for titles and sermon writing–I am not only using the lectionary but also the songs of the Beatles. This week I am reading the story of Jesus clearing the temple (John 2:13-25)and trying to match that up with a choir anthem “Can’t Buy Me Love.”
I learned this process from Preaching by Fred Craddock.
I am only still working on part one– putting the text in my own words. Why dont you try it? Read the text John 2:13-25 and then:
1. Write the text in your own words–2-5 sentence theme.
2. Condense your theme into a subject of 5-7 words.
3. And your title is??
send me your titles! we’ll see which one wins….