(TGC) Stephen Witmer: Small-Town Pastor, Preach Bespoke Sermons

Small-town pastor, you have the privilege of preaching bespoke sermons. “Bespoke” is a word often used to describe clothing or furniture carefully crafted for a particular customer or user. It’s not mass-produced. It’s not off-the-rack. It’s made with a particular someone in mind. It fits that person perfectly. You can preach like that.

Good sermons that stay small can go where a big sermon never could. If your congregation has 85 people and you’re an even reasonably faithful pastor, you’ll know every one of them with a significant degree of familiarity. You’ll know their histories, griefs, struggles, insecurities, weaknesses, joys, and aspirations. You’ll also be attuned to how they relate to one another—where the tensions and stress points lie, what the relationships are like. You’ll have the kind of granular and overall understanding of your congregation that a big-church pastor never could. And you can preach to that. Your sermons can fit.

You can preach a sermon that would never work as a podcast. It wouldn’t fit someone living on the other side of the country, working a job that doesn’t exist in your small town. It wouldn’t fit someone with a different educational level from the people sitting in front of you. You can preach a sermon that will only fully serve these particular people in your life and in your church. In Love Big, Be Well, Winn Collier’s fictional small-town pastor Jonas McAnn says he wants to preach sermons that fit only in his town, to live a life that wouldn’t make much sense except in his own place. That’s a bespoke ministry.

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Posted in Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics