My decision process involved evaluating the advantages and disadvantages.
- Variety - it would definitely be different. People's attention would be grabbed (at least until I fell on my face).
- A new hearing - Not only have I preached on Nicodemus several times, the people in my congregation had probably heard even more lessons/sermons on Nicodemus than I have preached. This might help us all hear the text anew.
- The power of a good story - By it's very nature this kind of sermon is a narrative. If done well it could be very powerful.
- I might look stupid. My youth minister and I both agree that we spend an ungodly amount of time in life just trying not to look stupid.
- No notes. This sermon would absolutely not work with notes. It would have to come from a combination of good memory (I do write manuscripts) and the ability to speak somewhat extemporanously (once I obviously forgot something and needed to course correct).
- Application. Being Nicodemus would limit my knowledge of modern life. How would I make any application in my sermon?
Result: Once I decided to do this, I went for it. I had the manuscript done by Tuesday and spent an extra amount of time learning it. Whereas I usually go over my sermon verbally 2-3 times before a Sunday morning, I lost count on how many times I went over this one. It's been a while since I was truly nervous about a sermon. I was incredibly nervous about this. All in all, it went well, I thought. The response from the congregation was positive. In general, I think people appreciated the attempt to bring some variety into the service. Several said they thought I should do that more often. At least a handful seemed to connect to the message, "We must be born again" in a renewed way. I don't think that this is a style of sermon I'll do often, but it is something I'll do again.
If you want to listen to my attempt at this style of sermon - check here - it's the sermon on 3/13/11, entitled The Teacher Gets Taught
Have any of you every preached as a biblical character? What was your experience?