While I'm Out Part Three: In awe of the scriptures.

Note: I'm at the Alive Festival all this week (June 16th-20th), and big fields are not known for their wifi connections. So I've set up a series of timed posts related to the new book to keep you all entertained. Enjoy!

I shudder to think of the countless sermon illustrations I've used over the past four years.

There was the time I tried (keyword: tried) to do an entire sermon as a modern day representation of Peter.

There was the time I ate pizza in front of the entire congregation and related it to evangelism.

There was the time that I didn't say any words at all, the sermon was done entirely on poster board (thanks Jax!)

I've done some pretty stupid things to try to get kids attention.

We have to be honest, in that one of the things that seems to define youth pastors (or any pastor for that matter) is the art of the sermon. When we're good at delivering God's word in a memorable way, people will remember us as good youth pastors. When we're not as good, people usually use that as the first point of attack. I'm not saying any of this is good or bad, it's just sort of the way things go.

What does sermon preparation look like for you? I know over the years I've had a couple of different incarnations, everything from being a stand up comic to attempting a 45 minute Rob Bell impression to a standard 3 point talk. Each has had it's ups and downs. Each has been effective at one point or another. Each has a special place in my heart as "the way" to prepare for a sermon. I'm just way too ADD to have one method and stick to it.

But one things remains constant for me. I become insanely nervous when I'm about to preach. I've done it hundreds of times at this point, too many to count. I've worked and refined my craft, trying my best to not trip over my own two feet with these personal ticks I've developed. I don't really fear that my fly might be down or something like that.

What freaks me the heck out is that I am speaking on behalf of God.

That's not to suggest that I think of myself as some kind of prophet. I don't think that every single sermon I've given is solid gold. I don't even really feel a constant connection with God, because I'm a sinner and the path is windy. But if we don't start with that notion that we are speaking on behalf of God, I don't think we're giving our words enough weight. I don't think we have an appropriate understanding for the power of the Scriptures if we don't at least tremble a little bit before opening it up in front of other people.

This should absolutely hold true for any setting where we're preaching the word of God. If you have a contemporary service like we do, and you're blessed enough to speak there with any kind of frequency, of course you should feel a sense of awe. If your church loves you enough to welcome you upstairs, there's probably a completely different sense of awe and fear. But what about your weekly youth gathering? What about the Sunday School class you teach, the one where you're pretty sure the only reason the boys show up is that one pretty girl who you're convinced is going to try to kill you? What about when a student comes into your office to ask you whether they should be having sex with their boyfriend, and you reach for a scripture.

If we don't come at this book with a sense of awe and reverence, then we are not ascribing to it the kind of weight it deserves. Because absolutely no shudders of fear go down my spine when I read TIME magazine out loud.