The practice of preaching is a lonely and solitary one. A certain amount of solitude is necessary for study and creativity. But for most of us preaching has become a strikingly individual and secluded exercise.
In solitude we preachers exegete a text. We consider the content and context of the text, all in private. We then craft a talk, ideally with insight into our congregation and community, with little chance to bounce ideas around with others.
The sermon is preached on Sunday. Then often with no significant discussion of what has just happened with anybody else, or even ourselves, the whole process begins again the next morning.
Yet this lonely practice is inconsistent with the nature of preaching, which is relational and communal. Preaching is the proclamation of God’s word to and within a community. Preaching is a mark of a Christian church. It energises this group of people in their mission to the world. How can the discernment necessary for preaching be found alone?
This process is also inconsistent with learning theory that tells us that reflection is critical for skill development: no reflection, no development. Where is the time and community for reflection on an already-preached or about-to-be-preached sermon?