Archives For Brandon Hilgemann

You step on stage. The lights come up. Everyone is looking at you.

Adrenaline starts pumping as your fight or flight response kicks in. You are nervous. You are about to preach a sermon.

The problem: the nerves and adrenaline that are common in public speaking naturally cause pastors to preach too fast.

You are either too excited or so nervous you rush to get it over with.

When was the last time you evaluated the pace of your preaching? How would you grade yourself?

If you speak too fast, your audience may have trouble keeping up with you. They won’t be able to think about the words you say, and your message will lose impact.

Preachers with a fast pace appear nervous.

But if you speak too slow your audience may become bored and wish you would hurry up and say it already. They may begin thinking about other things, and your message will lose impact.

Preachers with a slow pace appear to lack passion.

If you want to become a better preacher, you have to master the art of speaking pace.

So what is the perfect pace? Faster? Slower? Somewhere in between?

The answer is YES. All three.

If you preach at the…

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The work of ministry is never done. There is always more you could do. More people you could meet with. More sermons to write. More emails to answer. More outreach opportunities.

More. More. More.

Productivity matters for pastors. You will never be able to do everything, but the Bible encourages us to be wise and make the most of our time.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV).

Pastors and others who work in ministry will be held accountable for how well we steward the time God has given us.

How are you doing with that?

I have not always been the most productive person. However, in my years of ministry, I have learned a few things along the way that have benefited me.

I wish I had known and practiced these productivity tips earlier. I hope they will help you as well.

1. Practice Spiritual Discipline

Without exception, begin your day with time in God’s Word and prayer. Disciples are disciplined. You cannot lead your people spiritually if you are spiritually empty.

Prayer and time in the Word is…

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Growing up, I never wanted to be a pastor because public speaking was one of my biggest fears.

If I were to have ranked my worst fears in order, it would have been:

  1. Girls
  2. Public speaking
  3. Death
  4. Speaking to girls

My first sermon was terrible. I hid behind the biggest podium I could find, clutching my notes in both shaking hands

My sermon notes were my lifeline. I never took my eyes off of them.

That poor audience!

The content was OK, but the delivery stunk.

Fast forward a few years, and someone challenged me to preach without notes. It was one of the scariest thing ever did, but my sermon delivery improved considerably. And the more I practiced, the better I got.

My notes were a crutch. They made me feel safe when, in reality, they were an excuse for my insecurity and laziness. I thought they were helping me, but they were holding me back.

Today, I still prefer to write a full manuscript of my sermon to clarify my thoughts, but I only allow myself to bring one small page of notes with me on stage.

Most of the notes I have with me are direct quotes of the Scripture…

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Years ago, I brought a group of high school students to a Christian conference in California. The first night, hundreds of high schoolers packed into the gymnasium to worship God and hear a message from the guest preacher. The preacher took the stage and gave a compelling sermon about how much we should love people. While the content was true and good, I walked out that night with a funny feeling about the sermon. Something was not right. Then, I realized the problem: the preacher made no mention of Jesus.

Is a sermon really a sermon without Jesus? More specifically, is a sermon ever complete without the preaching of the Gospel? I do not believe so. Every sermon should find its resolution in the Gospel—the good news of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection to pay the penalty of our sins so that all who believe in him may receive forgiveness. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the defining belief that distinguishes a Christian message from every other religious or self-help talk. A sermon without the Gospel is incomplete.

All Scripture is Fulfilled in Jesus

To understand why the Gospel should be in every sermon, we…

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7 Ways Senior Pastors Can Keep Teenagers Listening To Their Sermons

Photo Credit: AllStarsYouth via Compfight cc

A few months ago a 13-year-old girl approached me after I preached, and excitedly proclaimed, “Good sermon. I actually paid attention to your whole message! I didn’t get bored once!”

My first thought was, “Thank you Jesus! I have witnessed a miracle! A 13-year-old girl’s fleeting attention was held by a sermon over 30 minutes.”

But then I thought, “Hey, wait a minute… What is she saying about all my other sermons?”

Engaging the short attention span of teenagers (and even adults) is not easy. But if you are a Senior Pastor, and there are teenagers in the room, you better engage them or you will lose them.

I’m not saying that I have mastered this, but here are some tips that I have found helpful.

How Senior Pastors Can Keep Teenagers Listening to Their Sermons

1. Be Authentic

The most important thing you can do in your sermon is be the same person on stage that…

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mother's day sermon ideasI am studying this week for a Mother’s Day Sermon I will be preaching.

When I start the message prep process, I always begin with prayer and then find a text in the Bible that I will preach.

Since I am preaching on Mother’s Day, I did a study on all the passages of scripture that I might want to preach for a sermon about mothers.

The best sermon ideas come from scripture. So here are some Mothers Day sermon ideas for you.

My hope is that this list will be helpful to save some of you the time of having to find the passages on your own.

Mother’s Day Bible Verses

Note: All scripture below is from the ESV translation.

Jesus Takes Care Of His Mother

John 19:25-27

25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

Timothy Is The Product Of…

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pastor losing weightOne of my big goals this year is to lose weight and be healthier.

After having a new baby, moving to a new state, and transitioning to a new job, I looked in the mirror one morning and realized I was about 40 pounds overweight.

If you are overweight or have ever been there, it’s not a fun realization to say the least. How did this happen?

I was so focused on church and family last year, that my own physical health suffered. Can you relate?

So I made a commitment, got my family onboard with me (because I know I don’t have the strength to do this alone), and I’m happy to say I have lost 15 pounds in a little over a month.

3 Ways Losing Weight Made Me A Better Pastor

I have noticed 3 major benefits of losing weight so far.

1. More energy. 

When I get home from a long day of work, I no longer just want to crash on the couch in front of the TV. I have the energy now to get on the floor and play with my kids! I am not as lazy at home and work.

2. Better focus.

I feel more focused and productive at work. I have more…

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thankfulSometimes I complain about being a pastor.

There are times when I have Elijah moments. I feel depressed and whine to God about how I don’t have the strength to keep going.

I think, if we are honest, we would admit that most of us have felt this way about ministry.

Ministry is difficult! It can be extremely discouraging and defeating.

It is times like these, when you feel down or discouraged in ministry, that you have to remember why you got started in the first place. You have to remember why you made the decision to follow God’s calling to ministry.

I have to constantly remind myself why I should be thankful. So, I made a quick list over Thanksgiving of ten reasons I am thankful to be a pastor.

No matter how difficult ministry may get, I can look at these things and know I am truly more blessed than I think.

10 Reasons I Am Thankful To Be A Pastor

  1. I get to tell everyone about the hope and salvation I have found in Jesus, and have a front row seat to see God change people’s lives.
  2. I get the privilege of…

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AudienceIs your audience boring?

Do they respond to your preaching? Do they laugh at jokes? Do they say “Amen.” Do they ever clap their hands? Are they leaning in to listen? Are they taking notes?

You may think the problem is your people, but I want to propose something different here: If your audience is dull, maybe the problem isn’t your audience. Maybe, the problem is how you have engaged with them.

Audience engagement starts with the speaker. People will do what they are taught., Many pastors just don’t encourage engagement.

In my opinion, good preaching sits somewhere in between monologue and dialogue (a lecture and a conversation). The preacher does the talking, but the audience is engaged and gives feedback with their body language and occasional with their mouths.

So how do you help build audience engagement? Here are five ways I have found helpful.

But first, I need to make 3 important disclaimers:

  1. Just because people says “Amen” or clap a lot  doesn’t make you a better preacher. There is such a thing as too much engagement. 
  2. Audience engagement will vary by church tradition. I am not saying that any one tradition is better than another. This advice is only if you want to encourage more…

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Christmas Service

For a church, Christmas Eve services are typically one of the highest attended days of the year. A great message is absolutely essential on such a big day.

This may be the only time many of these people will give your church a chance. This may be the last time you get to speak to them if they are not compelled to return.

So here are some tips.
5 Keys To A Great Christmas Sermon

1. Keep it short.

I’m not going to tell you how long you should preach. But whatever your average time is, work to shave some time off of it. If you normally preach an hour, shoot for 45 minutes. If you speak for 30, shoot for 25. End early if at all possible.

Whatever you do, don’t go long! It is rude to families with plans afterwards. It is rude to volunteers helping at multiple services. Finish exactly on time or earlier than you said you would. Everyone will appreciate it.

The goal isn’t to cover the entire Bible in one message. The goal is to make a small section of scripture so life-changing that they are left wanting to come back to hear more.

2. Bring your A game.

Christmas…

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Falling HeartsCan you preach a good sermon without love?

I was at a gathering of pastors, and the gust speaker said, “You can preach a good sermon without loving your people, but you will never preach a great sermon without loving them.”

I immediately wrote the phrase down and chewed on it for a while.

Can pastors really preach good without love?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized it is true.

There are plenty of pastors who preach good sermons without love for the people they are preaching to. They preach well, because, although they don’t love people, they love preaching.

Their people even say afterwards, “That was a good sermon.” Because by all accounts it was.

The timing and delivery were good. The illustrations were well rehearsed. The pastor was likable. The interpretation of scripture was solid. But “good” is all their preaching will ever be.

There is just something missing. Something that cannot be measured, but it can be felt. Love.

On the other hand, there are other pastors who preach the same level of sermon (even less polished), but have a genuine love for the people they are preaching to.

Their love is obvious. It flows through them….

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Old ChurchIt is a sad reality today that many churches are simply not reaching many people for Christ.

No, it’s not all about numbers. Yes, fellowship and discipleship are important. But if we are trying to follow the great commission, why are we not doing more to try to reach more people?

Put simply, I believe it is because we have not created a culture of evangelism in our churches. Somewhere along the way, many churches have lost their evangelistic fervor.

If we want to create a culture of evangelism in our churches, I believe there are at least 5 things that we must do.

1. Model Evangelism Yourself

You cannot expect your people to do something that you yourself are not doing. It is as simple as that.

You can only lead people as far as you have gone yourself. If you are not actively seeking evangelistic opportunities, your people won’t either.

This should be a given, but I know this is something I need to get better at myself.

It is easy to get so consumed in the busy work of being a pastor that we neglect our own obligation to reach out to people who are…

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