Speaking with Belinda Lakelin

I love getting the opportunity to hear people preach about Jesus. I am also curious about how different people prepare sermons. So with that in mind here are some questions I asked Belinda.

Can you think of a sermon that had a big impact on you? 

Yes – Neil Fitzpatrick “Grace Alone”.  I’d never heard of Neil – a friend gave me a tape of his four talks on the Protestant Reformation and I was listening to Grace Alone, whilst home alone and doing the ironing. It was about 20 years ago.

Why has it stayed with you?

Because the Holy Spirit came upon me and finally allowed me to realise that I am saved by grace.  I’d been in church for about 7 years, but I grew up in a non-church home that taught good people go to heaven.  So I picked up on the church lingo – I could have told you I was saved by Grace (I’d heard it often enough), but in my heart, I was still working to be accepted by God.  All through the sermon, I was thinking “yes, yes, I know this”, but then Neil finished by applying the sermon like this “What this means is that being saved is 100% God and 0% you” and it was like the weight of the world came off my shoulders – and I felt so free.  Free to be loved and free to love others.  It was a life-changing moment. Sometimes I joke Neil put it in a language I could understand (I have a Major in statistics).

What was your process preparing to preach at Seaforth?

I’ll preach the gospel to myself.  I’ll remind myself that my righteousness is in Jesus and I am loved no matter what, and that my identity doesn’t come from success (or failure) in preaching.  I’ll tell myself that feeling nervous is normal, and when I begin to wonder why on earth I am doing this, I’ll remind myself that God is with me and is working through me, even though I am the least of all evangelists.

I’ll pray.  I have an alarm on my phone that goes off every workday at 10:02 (to match Luke 10:2 about praying for workers for the harvest). When I see that I will pray for Seaforth that God would use them to be workers in his harvest and that my sermon will be part of the way God works in sending out workers. I’ll also pray that the message will be relevant and useful.  That it would be God’s word to the church.  As an itinerant preacher, I am often afraid that my message won’t be relevant to the people I am speaking to because I don’t know them.  But I trust God will use it and the Holy Spirit will use the message.

I’ll prepare. I have been following along with Tim Hawkins preaching book “Messages that Move”.  This time, I’m using a sermon/concept I’ve used before so I am not writing a new sermon, but I will read the passage (Matthew 28) and think about the way I apply the concepts this time.  I’ll also think about the introduction, and how I want to introduce evangelism and hopefully get people wanting to listen to a message on evangelism.  I’ll also check the length is appropriate for the church by looking at their other sermons online.

The two days before I preach, I’ll practice the sermon three times (in total) with the goal of memorising it.  I may also practice it on the drive up in the morning.  I’ll have the sermon printed. I’ll dress.  I have two preaching dresses – one summer and one winter, which takes the stress out of wondering what to wear.  (Neither have pockets, so I’ll ask for a handheld microphone, which is usually ok).  If I was doing a night service, I’d probably wear jeans.  If I’m really nervous, I’ll also get my fingernails painted. I’ll pray. Before I get out of the car, I’ll pray.  Before I stand up to preach, I’ll pray again.

I’ll say hi. I’m an introvert and probably feeling very nervous at this point, but I think it helps people hear the sermon if they have a feeling the person bringing it is approachable, so I make the effort to say hi to a few people.  It’s also my way of trusting God – I’ve prepared, prayed and practiced.  Now it’s time to love people. I’ll observe.  I’ll look at the church’s notice board, the building layout and website.  During the church service, I’ll pay attention to anything I can mention during the sermon – Churches are often already involved in mission and I like to point this out and encourage people.

Do you think the sermon still has a role in the work of evangelism? 

Yes.  I see evangelism and disciple-making as overlapping.  So as regular Sunday sermons “teach Jesus”, they are evangelising and making disciples.

Further resources:

Plan A: the Great Commission for Every Christian: