All tagged preaching

Clarity Is King.

Most the preachers I know work very hard at the craft God has called them to. They labor hour after hour, week after week, in order to faithfully feed the people God has entrusted to them.

This means...

They work hard to humbly exegete each text. 

They dispense an immense amount of effort into every word.

They carefully craft nearly every sentence. 

They give much thought to the illustrations they use. 

They want the gospel to be front and center every time they climb into the pulpit. 

Despite the hard work, there is one common shortcoming I see in a lot of preaching, including my own. It's a shortcoming that I believe separates the sub-par sermons from the good ones. 

3 People Every Pastor Needs

Pastoral ministry can be lonely work for a number of reasons. 

Some pastors don’t know how to have meaningful relationships. Others live under the crushing weight of a misplaced Messiah complex that keeps them from connecting with others. Often times church planters, or pastors in new churches are simply isolated and don’t truly know anyone.  

Pastors preach the importance of community, but often fail to participate in it. The reality is, every pastor, just like ever other person, needs the right people in their life, in order to pursue health and endure for the long haul. While every pastor would benefit from a deep well of diverse relationships, here are three I believe to be critical… 

Sweat Your Sermon Intro

The first pastor who really taught me about preaching once told me, “If you open strong, close strong, and hit your transitions, your sermon will take care of itself.” While it’s a bit more complicated than that, he was largely correct. Many sermons fall apart before they even start, crash and burn because of an inability to “land the plane”, or lack clarity due to confusion in transition.

 

While I hope to write on each of these sermon elements, I want to start with the importance of a strong sermon introduction. So what makes for an effective sermon illustration? In a sentence:

Prevailing Under Pressure To Compromise

This should come as no shock to you, but it’s increasingly difficult to be a Bible-believing Christian in our culture. There is constant pressure to compromise our faith. More and more Christians are being labeled as “bigots” for even voicing convictions contrary to the cultural norm.

 

Gone are the days when our culture held to at least some standard of Biblical morality. Gone are the days when when your faith may not lead to conflict. Gone are the days when being a Bible-believing Christian was socially acceptable. 

This pressure leaves us with two options: We can compromise our faith, or we can contend for it. Jude 3 calls all Christians to... 

3 Pastoral Priorities...

Pastors always have plenty to do.

There is always another meeting to attend, sermon to write, class to teach, decision to make, counsel to give, etc.  If we are not careful, our calendars can quickly fill to the point of being unrealistic. This is one reason so many pastors burn out. 

What most pastors are not honest about, or maybe even in touch with, is what truly drives our over-busyness. Too many pastors don’t trust the God we preach. We betray our disbelief when we try to be saviors instead of the stewards God has called us to be. In his book The Contemplative PastorEugene H. Peterson cuts to the heart of this over-busyness problem:

The word  'busy' is the symptom not of commitment but of betrayal. It is not devotion but defection. The adjective 'busy' set as a modifier to 'pastor' should sound to our ears like 'adulterous' to characterize a wife or 'embezzling' to describe a banker. It is an outrageous scandal, a blasphemous affront.” (P.27)

Having a fruitful life and full schedule is a good thing. We should work hard and spend ourselves making Jesus known. But busy to the point of burnout is a problem. It’s a problem for the pastor and it’s a problem for the church.

Busyness becomes a problem when what we CAN do crowds out what we MUST do. We can do all kinds of things, but there are at least three things that must be prioritized in the pastor’s life…

5 Prayer Requests For Those Listening To Preaching

Preachers aren’t the only people who need to pray prior to the preaching of God’s word. Every Christian should spend time in prayer before sitting under a sermon. If your pastor is a faithful Bible teacher then each week you have the opportunity to hear God speak in a heart-altering, life-changing manner. This should be taken seriously and prepared for properly. 

If you want the most out of the next sermon you listen to, here are five prayer requests for those listening to preaching:

Is Your Gospel Too Small?

There is no greater need in our world than more clear, more faithful, and more fervent proclamation of the one true gospel of Christ. We need to tell everyone about Jesus and what He has done. We should do this over coffee and meals. We should do this through books and blogs. We should do this through sermons and songs. 

We should use any and every means at our disposal to help more people know Jesus. 

Yet, in all our efforts to live in light of the one true gospel and share it with the world around us, we must guard against two tendencies to shrink the gospel…

Your gospel is too small if…

11 Issues Impacting Your Preaching

When I first started preaching, I had one and only one thought on Sunday mornings: 

"Don't forget what you want to say."

I walked around like I was carrying a cup of coffee that was just a little too full, afraid if someone bumped me, my sermon may spill out of my mind and onto the floor. I'm more relaxed now, yet still aware of how difficult preaching well truly is.

There are so many ways a sermon can go wrong. I know God's Word never returns void and I'm thankful that the caliber of God's work isn't determined by the quality of my preaching. Personally, I just never want that to be an excuse for phoning in a crappy sermon. 

The longer I preach, the more aware I am of just how many issues impact my preaching. I can study, pray, and prepare hard and still crash and burn on Sunday - I know because I've done it. Preparation is paramount, but there are other factors in play. 

Here are 11 issues that impact the preacher in no particular order...

7 Ways To Refresh Your Preaching.

It's Saturday night, which means you're slumped over your sermon notes when it finally sets in. 

No, you're not hiding any sin, or walking through suffering. You're not spiritually dry, or nearing burnout. You simply can't remember the last time you had a Sunday off from preaching. As a result, you feel like you're saying the same thing the same way week after week.

Your illustrations are tired. Your jokes are dry. Your applications are about as helpful as a swimsuit in a snowstorm. Your preaching has gone stale.

But you know what? It happens. It happens to every faithful herald who fills a pulpit week in and week out. Each Sunday as I drive home from church I experience the collision of two emotions simultaneously: 

Your illustrations are tired. Your jokes are dry. Your applications are about as helpful as a swimsuit in a snowstorm. Your preaching has gone stale.

But you know what? It happens. It happens to every faithful herald who fills a pulpit week in and week out. Each Sunday as I drive home from church I experience the collision of two emotions simultaneously: 

The satisfaction that I’ve preached another sermon and the stress of having to do it all over again the next week.

The Preacher's Mightiest Weapon

As a preacher, I'm regularly asked how long it takes me to write a sermon. My go-to answer is, "It depends on how much I've prayed." I see a direct correlation between the quality of my preparation/preaching and the quality of my praying. 

For many pastors, myself included, prayer can be the easiest aspect of sermon prep to skip. This, however, is a grave error. The preacher preps the sermon, but prayer preps the preacher. Prayer is what prepares our hearts to proclaim God's Word. Prayer is what gives preaching power in the pulpit.