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Lights, Camera, Pulpit! (Part 2)

The 10 most common flaws of screenwriting—and preaching, too.

In Part 1 of this article, I differentiated between "content dumping" and skillful content delivery for preachers, drawing on the art of documentary filmmaking to better understand what makes for effective delivery. Now, let's dig into the screenwriting process, which shares many similarities with preaching, to glean some wisdom.

Of the vast number of screenplays submitted to production companies, only a tiny fraction of them ever make it to the big screen. Most are irredeemably flawed and destined for the recycling bin. As it turns out, the same flaws tend to turn up again and again. And guess what? I've found many of these same flaws in my preaching.

Here are ten of the most common flaws that cause screenplays to get rejected … and the homiletical problems that they point out:

  1. Style over substance

    Some screenplays are all spectacle, with no depth, character development, or plot of any kind. Likewise, sermons can be full of great jokes, moving stories, poetic descriptions and creative mnemonics … and not much else.

    There is no substitute for solid exegesis. We must remember that the power of any sermon comes from the ability of God's Word to do God's work. Good preaching isn't just about being able to draw a crowd; it is about effectively engaging our people with the whole counsel of God. We are called to preach, not win popularity contests. Resist the temptation to favor style over substance.

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