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“play it again sam” – robyn mellar-smith

Photo for Robyn blog

In December I am finishing up as the main preacher for a church community so that I can go back to study full-time for the next two years. As I reflected on what might be important to preach in the next 3 months, I was drawn to re-look at a series I preached in my first year as full-time pastor in 2009. We have a number of new people in our church since then and the nature of the series means that it is worth revisiting.

These sermons are a meta-narrative series, looking at the entirety of the biblical story over 6 sermons. I entitled them Creation, Catastrophe, Covenant, Christ, Church and Consummation. (A member of the congregation made a lovely banner each week to represent the week’s topic.)

So, what have I learned about my preaching as I have revisited a series from 5 years ago?

  1. As a beginning preacher, I tried to cram far too much into one sermon. As I’ve read through the series in preparation for preaching, I have been saying things like “Really? I tried to say all that?!” (This is something that is fairly common I have found as I’ve discussed this with other preachers.)
  2. I have a far bigger view of things and much more idea of how the big picture of the Bible fits together after 5 ½ years of preaching most weeks.
  3. I am much more comfortable living in a message during the week and hence opening the message to more discussion from the congregation while I am preaching, than I was 5 years ago.

What about you? Have you revisited series you have preached years before, and if so, what have you learned about your preaching?


  1. Steve Worsley says:

    Robyn – this is your last chance to recant this talk of leaving and stay at Epuni after all! Seriously – a good post. Yes definitely I tried to say too much in my earlier messages and I think some bible passages really tempt us to go in multiple directions. Having 3 or 4 points is one thing. Having them all aligned so that they pack a collective punch around the Big Idea is another entirely. As it happens I’m finishing a series called Th Bible in Four Weeks this Sunday so preaching from Acts to Revelation. Similar to your series. Finding one Big Idea from Acts to Revelation and applying it is challenging but I think I’ve got it!

  2. Rhett says:

    As the lucky one who gets to try to fill your shoes (gulp!) this was helpful and fun to read. I also recently trawled through my last 5 years of sermons to cherry pick re-usable illustrations, and I had similar reflections about my older ones.

    1. I tried to say way to much.
    2. My sermons lacked clarity in their structure.
    3. My illustrations were far too focussed on my own life stage.
    4. My hobby horses crept in way too much.

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