Archives For Brandon Hilgemann

preaching lessons from Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon is arguably one of the greatest preachers in the history of Christianity.

  • He preached over 600 sermons before the age of 20.
  • The collection of his recorded sermons fills 63 volumes and over 20 million words, making it the largest collection of books by a single Christian author.
  • He once spoke to an audience of 23,654 without the use of a microphone or sound system.
  • He frequently preached ten times per week because he accepted so many invitations to speak.1

Spurgeon was so gifted and influential that it’s no wonder he earned the nickname of the “Prince of Preachers.”

It’s safe to say that we could all learn much about preaching from such a prolific preacher.

So here are 12 preaching tips that Charles Spurgeon taught his students:

1. PRAYER IS SERMON PREP

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Church In WinterAre you ready for your Christmas sermon?

As you are well aware, Christmas Eve services are one of the highest attendance days of the year for most churches.

It’s the big event, the big night.

Hundreds — maybe even thousands — of people will trust their valuable time to your church. But the week after that, will your guests come back?

This could be the only chance you get to make a good impression.

The stakes are high. So here are five tips that will help you preach a sermon that brings guests back for more.

1. Think appetizer, not buffet.

Think of your Christmas sermon more like a gourmet appetizer at a fine dining restaurant than the average food at an all-you-can-eat buffet. The appetizer may be small, but it’s packed with flavor, and you’re left wanting more.

Preaching too long will leave a negative impression. You will never have enough time to cover everything in a single sermon. The goal should be to give people a delicious taste of Scripture so they want to come back for more.

I won’t dictate how long you have to preach, but try to shave some time off your average…

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christmas-ornament

It’s Christmas time again.

And every year pastors have the task to create yet another great Christmas sermon. But after many years of preaching the same message, you can get repetitive.

The message every year should remain the same, but you need a bit of a creative twist on the way you present it every year to keep the message fresh.

So, if you’re stuck in a rut trying to come up with a different way to tell the Christmas story once again, here are 40 ideas straight out of the Bible to get your started.

40 CHRISTMAS SERMON IDEAS FROM THE BIBLE

GOSPEL NARRATIVES OF JESUS’ BIRTH

1. Matthew 1:1-17 – Preach the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew traced from Abraham through David all the way to Jesus. Matthew is unique because he includes women in his genealogy.

2. Matthew 1:18-25 – Preach the Christmas story through the eyes of Joseph, who planned to divorce Mary quietly until an angel came.

3. Matthew 2:1-12 – Preach the Christmas story through the eyes of the wise men, who seek to worship the newborn king.

4. Matthew 2:1-23 – Preach the Christmas story through the eyes of King Herod,…

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Pastors

Let’s cut the fluff and get real for a moment. Being a pastor is incredibly difficult.

The church is often guilty of only painting a picture of the wonderful blessings of being called to ministry – like it only gets better day after day.

We somehow forget to talk about the suffering involved. Did we forget, or are we afraid people won’t go into ministry if they know the truth?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are some things we are failing to prepare new pastors for.

I wish someone would have sat me down at age 20 and told me the following as I have spent the last decade learning these the hard way:

1. It will be the hardest thing you ever do.

No seriously, it is really, really, really hard! Imagine the most difficult thing you have done and multiply it by a hundred. That may be close to how hard ministry is. If you want to be a pastor because it sounds fun or easy, do something else.

2. Integrity and a love for Christ will not be enough; you have to be able to lead people.

Your character and love for Christ are…

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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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