Podcast Episode 16 | 11 min
The Cutting Room Floor
Preachers need to be more like filmmakers when crafting their sermons.
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Matt Woodley: Thanks for joining us on another episode of Monday Morning Preacher. I’m Matt Woodley, editor of PreachingToday.com, and a 25-year journeyman of the fascinating craft of preaching. I’m here with my guest host today, fellow preacher extraordinaire, Kevin Miller.
Kevin Miller: Wow, I love the extraordinaire. It even had like an accent, like a little French flair or something.
MW: You are extraordinaire.
KM: Thank you.
MW: So Kevin, back in 1975, I was 16 years old. There was a blockbuster movie that came out that summer. It was the highest grossing film until the first Star Wars film hit. Any idea what it was?
KM: I don’t know. Airplane?
MW: Wrong. Let me give you a few clues.
KM: Thanks for letting me down gently.
MW: Summer. At the beach. Scary. Blood. Then this. [Jaws theme song] Yeah, Jaws, the thriller produced by Steven Spielberg about the giant man-eating great white shark that attacked folks at the New England summer resort town. Well, most people didn’t know that this movie was actually based on a novel, and the novel had all kinds of plots and subplots and twists and turns, so Spielberg had to do a lot of cutting from the book and then once the movie was finished he had all the scenes, he had to do a lot of cutting of the scenes. For instance, there’s this one really weird scene that got cut. The main character, a guy named Quint, he goes to the hardware store to buy some piano wire. While he’s in there, there’s this kid who’s playing the clarinet in the hardware store. Seriously.
KM: That’s weird.
MW: And Quint kind of goes crazy and he starts bopping along with the song, and he gets so loud he drowns the kid out, freaks the kid out, etc., etc., and it got cut.
KM: So I’m guessing that somewhere in this interminably long introduction of yours there is a theme for today’s podcast.
MW: There’s a theme. So here’s what we’re going to talk about today: The preacher’s cutting room floor.
KM: Oh, great topic.
MW: There will be scenes that you want to leave out of your sermon. Stuff, lots of stuff, that you will need to cut and leave on the cutting room floor. So Kevin, why is this so hard for preachers?
KM: Well, speaking for myself, when I’ve done my homework, exegesis, and I’ve thought about something, prayed about something and I get a great insight, I feel very attached to it. It’s almost like connected to me. It doesn’t feel like my work, like I’m holding it out at arm’s length. It feels like it’s inside me now. So the thought of cutting that out is kind of painful.
MW: Sure, I think every preacher can relate to that. There is a journalist named Roy Peter Clark who put it this way. He said, “When writers fall in love with their words, it is a good feeling that can lead to a bad effect.” Exactly what you’re talking about, right? When we fall in love with our words, Clark says, our quotes, our characters, our anecdotes – think of all our biblical exegesis, etc. – we cannot kill any of them. But then he says, “But kill them we must.” Ouch. So here’s my first bit of advice for preachers: Get used to it. Get used to the cutting room floor.
H.B. Charles is the Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida.