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Preaching with Precision, Imagination, and Power

An Interview with Fiction Writer Bret Lott

Bret Lott is a New York Times best-selling author, best-known for his beloved novel Jewell. He teaches creative writing at the College of Charleston, where he was also writer-in-residence. Recently Bret wrote On Letters and Life: On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian. That's the book that caught our eye at, because so many of Bret's insights about writing fiction parallel the art of preaching. In your recent book you write, "Precision is the most important element to crafting a piece of prose—and to crafting a poem, in fact, to crafting any piece of writing, from an obituary to a grocery list … " What do you mean by precision and how does that apply to writing a sermon?

Bret Lott: To begin with, I can't imagine the kind of pressure preachers must feel at the job of finding, week in and week out, something to say of meaning and redemption and truth and beauty and warning and salvation that will be edifying and, dare I say it, entertaining ...

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John Romanosky

October 08, 2013  10:22am

I have preached several sermons in the first person mode, using either the individual or someone who could have been there. E.G. I told the story of the OT Joseph from the view point of one of Pharaoh's guards. Or at Christmas one of the servant to the Magi told their story. When Moses lead the people across the Red Sea, I read the "journal" from the first person to cross and the last person to cross the sea. I let my people know they are from the "Red Sea Scrolls" which exist in the dusty caverns of my mind as opposed to the real Dead Sea Scrolls. It is interesting to create a sermon, talk, devotional, etc. this way.

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Rob Sheild

October 07, 2013  3:10pm

Encouraging! I love the story aspect of the Bible and attempt to use precise and engaging language in my own preaching. Thanks.

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