Feature Preacher: Matt Dyck
Matt is husband to Lisa and father to Joel, Luke, and Silas. When he’s not pastoring, he spends his time with his family, driving between soccer games, playing his guitar, riding his mountain bike, or drinking coffee that’s too expensive while reading books by people much smarter than him.
Here are some reflections from Matt:
Q: How do you write your sermons?
One of my foundational beliefs is that you can’t give away what you don’t have. It’s true in the physical and it’s true in the spiritual (Acts 3:6). So my preparation I believe starts with my lifestyle. I’ve had a practice of journaling for about 15 or so years. I try and do it “regularly,” which I wish meant daily, but often turns out to be 3-4 times a week. I do it electronically now (using a program called Day One) and this allows me to tag each journal entry with multiple descriptions that make it easy to find in future months/years.
The trick is that you can’t do intimacy with God to get something from God.
You have to do it to get God PERIOD.
I know that my most influential sermons come from this place, but I don’t go to that place to get a sermon. So I separate the two processes. I have two weekly blocks of time that are strictly committed to sermon prep (on Monday and Thursday), and that is separate from my daily time with God (where I journal) in the morning which I do solely to abide with him.
Q: How do you prepare your sermons?
When I prepare, I do it using a mind map.
This has been a learning curve for me as I’ve had to figure out how my brain works best. I think in big concepts, and I think very story like. Working with a mind map allows me to move around the different pieces to see how the whole story flows together (I use a program called “Mind Node”). I find once I can figure out which pieces to keep in the story and which to eliminate, filling in the content of each 'chapter' is easy. This also is helpful for preaching without a transcript as it forces my brain to organize the material in the big blocks and work from there.
Q: How do you plan your sermons series?
I learned a long time ago to start with the question: what do our people need to hear?
At the end of the day, I’m a pastor. My role is to lead and grow a group of people. I have a Pastoral staff team and a sermon planning team (made up of staff and volunteers) that I pose this question to a couple of times a year.
The sermon series need to be as unique as our people are.
Different seasons require different types of styles and content. Sometimes testimony is needed, sometimes pastoral comfort, and sometimes overcoming fear to risk take together... "Where is the Lord leading us at this time?" is the question that I think a pastor always needs to be asking. And not to sound like a broken record, but unless I spend regular time listening to God’s voice (and attentively listening to those around me), I will preach to itching ears (2 Timothy 4:3).
The best sermon series’ that I’ve been a part of have always been planned in a team setting. If preachers can push aside ego and insecurity, there is a wealth of creativity and insight waiting to be utilized in their congregation.
Q: When you started preaching, how did you develop your skills as a preacher?
Well, it probably started long before I started preaching. I worked at Bible Camp every summer for years. There were some summers where my role was to work with the guest speakers each week. 3 years before I preached my first sermon I was picking their brains every week and asking questions about pastoring and preaching. I had a fire in my belly to preach. I was a worship leader, and everyone in my life was encouraging me to be a worship pastor, but I couldn’t ignore this gravitational pull I felt towards helping others taste and see that the Lord is good through communication.
As an intern at SunWest Church, I was mentored under Willy Reimer. We would plan sermons with Willy and critique him every week. Eventually, Willy starting to give me a few spot opportunities to preach. He and the team were equally ruthless with me, but I didn’t let that discourage me from continuing to work at it (when your leader receives critique it creates an environment where you can receive it as well). Willy gave me enough encouragement to continue to keep going but never told me just what I wanted to hear (that still continues today lol) when he watches and listens online, or he visits.
Having regular feedback is critical to developing your skills as a preacher.
For years I couldn’t watch myself preach, but now I try and watch myself most weeks. I realize how much I can still do to grow each time I watch. I also send weekly evaluations to staff, preaching team, and some other volunteers to send in weekly feedback. I need to know if I’m hitting the target that we said we were going to hit.
Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your preaching? Why?
For the reasons stated above, Willy had a significant impact on my development of preaching in general and my philosophy of preaching in particular.
I want to assume nothing and explain everything when I preach.
I want someone who is far from God take steps toward God. I believe that heart was grown in me from Willy. That doesn’t mean you don’t go deep, but I think great preachers are able to dig deep and keep it understandable for everyone.
Beyond that, I just love listening to good communicators. I have listened to everyone from Tim Keller, Rob Bell, Erwin McManus, Matt Chandler, Stephen Furtick, Bruxy Cavey, Brian Zahnd… I even listen to stand up comedians (the good ones know how to tell stories, and run themes throughout a set)! All these communicators are very different in their style and their theologies, but all incredibly effective at communicating in a way that impacts people wherever they are at.
I want to move people one step closer to Jesus, and I’m willing to learn from anyone on how to do that.
Q: What is your favourite book about preaching?
I’m not sure when the last time was that I read a preaching book. I need to do that again. Robinson’s Biblical Preaching was the first preaching book I read in Bible College. John Stott’s I Believe In Preaching was also an early read for me. I read Kenton Anderson’s Choosing To Preach when doing my Masters. I appreciated his effort to give different examples of how one can preach (using popular preacher examples). The creativity of the communication is the fun part for me and that book opened my eyes to a variety of approaches.
You can find examples of Matt’s preaching at www.sunwestchurch.com
You can follow him:
On Twitter: @Matt_Dyck
On Instagram: matt_dyck
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