All in Preaching

What's The One Thing?

Each day you and I are bombarded by content.  

Text messages, tweets, email, voice mail, advertising, meetings, books, blogs, seminars, sermons - it is never ending. One of the dangers in this constant consumption of information is an inability to effectively internalize anything. Because there is so much to process, you can end up with nothing. 

There is great wisdom in intentionally limiting what we consume, but much of it is simply inevitable. We need a better way to capture, process, and file away information. 

One approach I've found especially helpful is to concentrate on capturing "the one thing."

 

Is God in Control?

Big Idea:

God's caring control is constant.

For full sermon audio, listen here: http://rdmp.tn/DG5

Have you ever looked at a situation in your own life – or the state of the world in general – and wondered, “Is God truly in control of all this? Does He have power over all things, all people, in all places, at all times? Is God really sovereign?”

The Bible's answer to these questions is an overwhelming and emphatic, “Yes”:

 

Is God Good?

Big Idea:

God is always good and ever-worthy of our worship

 For full sermon audio, listen

[here]

Is God good?

This question about God’s character and capability plagues more people than any other. Almost daily we hear someone asking the question, “How could a good God allow such suffering in this world?” Perhaps we have asked it ourselves. How indeed?

We live in a world that is filled with physical, mental, emotional, political, and relational suffering. If we’re honest, we’ve all wondered how God could be good and yet allow these things to happen. Why does He not intervene?

7 Reasons People Might Hate Our Preaching...

Every preacher knows the discouragement of looking out on an obviously disengaged audience - glassy stares, confused looks, slowly closing eyes just moments from a nap - it's awful. While some of the responsibility lands in the laps of our listeners, most of the responsibility is ours as preachers.

Our job is to "rightly handle the word of truth" (2 Tim.2:15). That's the command the apostle Paul gave young Timothy - a green, insecure, uncertain pastor in a jacked up situation. 

I am part of a tribe that takes this task seriously. We preach the Word week in and week out. We don't play games with God's Word. But, if we're not careful we can make the mistake of believing that faithful preaching means nothing more than mere accuracy. I believe Paul's encouragement to Timothy begs more than accuracy alone.

Here are seven reasons people might hate our preaching (even if it's Biblically accurate)…

 

Big Idea

"Nothing improves preaching like constant prayer, effective preparation, and frequent reps. "

Improving your preaching gift is like dieting for weight loss - progress develops over time and doesn't happen overnight. It's hard work. Slowly, week after week and sermon after sermon, you begin to learn a few things. Eventually, they say, you find your voice (I'm still working on this).

 

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “The work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.” I’m so thankful to be a preacher. It’s my favorite part of being a pastor. While I love the act of preaching, I often find the art of prepping sermons tedious. I love to study and preach what the Lord gives me. It’s the blood, sweat, and tears in between that makes me long for the time when I was a vocational coffee maker.

"Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary."

You've most likely heard some version of this quote, often attributed (incorrectly) to St. Francis of Assisi. The problem with this quote -- other than the fact that St. Francis never said it -- is that it forces an unnecessary, unhelpful, and unbiblical dichotomy between displaying the Gospel with one's life and declaring the Gospel with one's mouth.

While I wholeheartedly agree that Christians should live exemplary lives that display the work of the Gospel, the Bible doesn't hold this up as the definition of evangelism. Until you open your mouth and actually tell someone the good news about Jesus, you have not done the full work of Biblical evangelism.

In many churches, the most thankless job is that of the pastor's wife. Though the pastor alone is paid, the pastor's wife is often still saddled with a host of responsibilities and expectations. She is expected to be a model wife, nurturing mother, friend to everyone, run a women's ministry, throw every baby shower, and cook every meal. These expectations are often unfair, unhelpful, and most importantly, unbiblical. "Pastor's Wife" is not a secret third office of church leadership. The Bible contains no job description for the pastor's wife, which is why extra-biblical expectations are often placed upon her.

Preachers face a lot of pressure these days. We live in a day and age marked by easy access to an amazing caliber of preaching. This means the bar is set extraordinarily high for the average preacher. It's intimidating to know that your audience podcasts pastors like Mark Driscoll, Andy Stanley, James MacDonald, Steven Furtick, Matt Chandler, and John Piper throughout the week and then shows up to hear you on Sunday.

 

Pastors should be working hard to preach the best sermons possible, but the best sermon is only as good as the audience listening. Preaching is a two-way street. The preacher is responsible for preaching well, and the audience is responsible for listening well.

Listening is a lost art in our culture, so how should we listen to a sermon?

Sermon prep is difficult work. It’s long, arduous, and tedious. Because of the difficulty inherent to prepping a gospel-centered, culturally-intelligible, Biblically-saturated sermon, many opt for other types of “sermons.” Some preach creativity.

Some preach comedy.

Some preach social observations.

Some preach practical pep-talks.

It’s simply easier to “preach” these other things than it is to open God’s Word each week, find a fresh sermon for God’s people, and put spiritual food on the table.

 

Preaching is draining work. A faithful Bible preacher labors week after week to carefully and prayerfully craft sermons in a way that are faithful, helpful, and clear.

All the while they see the faces of actual people God has entrusted to their care. They see their victories, their trials, their suffering, and their sin. They hear their fears, doubts, and their prayers. All of this adds to the weight of bringing a word from God that will build them up, encourage them, feed them, and challenge them.

 

If you are a preacher, you have done it. You have been right in the middle of preaching your sermon and used that illustration you had a feeling might flop, but decided to take the risk anyway. Then it happens.

It detonates in your face and all you want to do is sit down and let the band come back on and play. Maybe it was unnecessarily offensive, distracting, or not thought through. Maybe it made no sense, confused people, or wound up serving no purpose whatsoever.

 

I've always been oddly interested in the process various pastors use in preparing to preach. Not just the textual work and crafting of the sermon, but specifically their day of preparation. Personally, I've seen over and over how the quality of my preparation directly impacts the quality of my proclamation. My Sunday morning schedule has changed with our facilities, service times, and other factors, but here's my current Sunday morning process for preparing to preach.

 

"So, I know you preach on Sunday, but what do you do the rest of the week?"

If you're a pastor than you've been asked this question on multiple occasions. Is it just me, or does it seem that people only ask this question on the particularly hard weeks when almost anything sounds better than writing another sermon, walking through another crisis, or watching yet another person ignore the clear counsel of God's Word and thus shipwreck their life? In truth, while pastoral ministry is (in my biased opinion) the most amazing job on the planet, it is also one of the most difficult.

 

I love preaching, and I desperately want to grow in my own preaching. By God's grace we live at a point in history when some of the greatest Bible teaching is available through the mere click of a mouse. What I love most about this is the tremendous amount of diversity that exists. No two preachers are exactly alike, and no one preacher is entirely perfect. Over the last few years I've listened to specific preachers in an attempt to continually develop specific skills in my own preaching. Here are the seven preachers I have listened to most frequently and the skills I believe they demonstrate over and over again.