“Preaching is an ongoing conservation with the congregation and I am thankful for that,” Clarkson said. “There’s a lot of hunger in our culture for experiencing the living God and I hope that in my preaching, I can give people a sense of that.”
In addition to reading the scriptures, Clarkson uses life experiences and weaves it in his homilies.
Preaching experts such as the Rev. Charles Crabtree, president of Northpoint Bible College in Haverhill, say keeping the Easter message simple is the best way to maintain interest.
“If you give a history lesson about the Resurrection, it doesn’t make it personal. But if you study the story of the Resurrection in a fresh and new light weaving the culture around us, we’re not so much rejoicing at a historical event, but looking at a living person,” said Crabtree, an Assembly of God minister.
Crabtree said he studies 10 hours and it takes him another 10 hours writing his sermon. He usually preaches between 25 to 35 minutes and does not focus so much on people who only attend services on certain holidays.
“The key to Easter is seeing lives change and as a pastor it’s a wonderful thing to see,” he said.
One way he uses to capture people’s attention is using everyday experiences, famous people who have converted, atheists who have found a new life in the Lord and testimonials from drug addicts who are part of Teen Challenge.
“People can’t relate to the message if you preach about the Christ of yesterday, you have to talk about fervent Christians who have found new life in Christ,” Crabtree said.
Some times, his topics come from outside the box including “The Day the Sun Rose from the West” and “If Christ had not risen?”
The Rev. Susan Gleason, pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Haverhill, also uses unfamiliar themes. She does first person narratives and have played the part of Pontius Pilate or the donkey on which Jesus rode on when he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.