Archives For Brandon Hilgemann

Composing Music

Did you know that for musical arrangements, composers write more than just the notes to be played? They also write the strength with which each note should be performed.

These markings are referred to as the “dynamics” of music.

A composer might write a pp, meaning pianissimo or “very soft,” or a ff,meaning fortissimo or “very loud.” There are multiple marks all meant to tell the musician roughly how strong or soft a note is meant to be played.

These dynamic markings make all the difference in a song. The best songs do not stay at the same level.

The dynamics of all great songs rise and fall from the forcefulness of a shout to the gentleness of a whisper.

I believe that preaching is very similar.

Great preaching doesn’t stay on one level. Great preaching is vocally dynamic.

3 Levels of Dynamic Preaching

I believe that every preacher should have three levels of vocal dynamics.

  1. Normal
  2. Quiet
  3. Loud

This isn’t complicated, but it takes a lifetime to master.

Every preacher should work to get comfortable using each of these levels of vocal dynamics. Think of them as tools in your back pocket to pull out as needed for emphasis.

Normal is your base level. This is…

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Easter He Is Risen

Easter Sunday is like the Superbowl of preaching.

This may be your largest attended service of the year. Statistically, people are more open to visiting a church on Easter (and Christmas) than any other time of year.

Because of this, your Easter sermon is infinitely important.

The eternal destination of many people in attendance is hanging in the balance. For many of them, this is the only chance you will get this year to reach them. For some, it will be your last chance ever.

The weight of responsibility on a pastor to preach on Easter Sunday should not be underestimated.

As you put in the study, hard work, and spiritual preparation to preach this Easter, here are 20 questions to ask yourself.

20 Questions to Ask Before Preaching This Easter

  1. Have I prayed about my sermon, given it over to God, and asked for the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit?
  2. Have I faithfully interpreted the Bible without addition or subtraction?
  3. Does this sermon make a clear presentation of the Gospel message?
  4. Have I used any Christian terminology that may be confusing or need explanation for visitors?
  5. Is this…

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Crying Baby

What is the most distracting thing that has ever happened to you while preaching?

For me it was when I was a youth pastor at a church in New Mexico. I was preaching to a group of high school students.

In the middle of my message, a boy stood up, jump onto his chair and began to do what looked like an Irish jig. And before I could say anything, the chair flipped over, dropping the boy flat on his back. Everyone burst into laughter.

Fortunately, except for his ego, the boy was not hurt. But he definitely hurt my sermon. All eyes were on him. All eyes were off Jesus. Some students were literally rolling on the floor they were laughing so hard.

How do you recover from something like that?

Another time when I was preaching a silent fire alarm was falsely triggered somehow. So as I was wrapping up my message, four firemen in full uniform come walking down the aisle, up the side of the stage, and disappear into an electrical room behind me.

What do you do in that situation?

Nobody prepares you for falling dancers and firefighter appearances in seminary!

If you…

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Apple Ipad Air

What are the best iPad apps for pastors? Using my iPad as a pastor for the last 3 years, I have tried a lot of different apps.

If you are anything like me, you are in a never-ending hunt, roaming the iTunes App Store looking for the next app that will make your iPad better than ever.

After trying many different apps, I have compiled a list of my absolute favorite iPad apps for ministry that I truly believe every iPad packing pastor needs.

Day One Journal – Day One recently has won various app awards for a reason. It is the best app for anyone who journals. It is especially useful for your quiet time with God. If you are not into journaling, consider using Day One for recording prayer requests. Another great use is for having a record what God has been speaking to you in your quiet time with Him, so you can pull those thoughts for sermon preparation later.

Evernote – Never forget anything ever again. This the best note-taking app ever. I use Evernote for keeping a database of every sermon I have ever preached. I also use…

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Plane RideHave you been invited to be a guest preacher?

I have had the opportunity to do a bit of guest preaching lately. I have also dealt with my fair share of good and bad guest preachers.

Here are some tips to help make you a better guest preacher – one they will actually want to invite back.

1. Honor the senior pastor

Most pastors do not get nearly enough appreciation for the extremely hard work they do for their church. They will never stand up on stage and toot their own horn. So, as the guest preacher, you should toot it for them.

Let the people know why you love their pastor. Create an opportunity for everyone to clap for him. Give the man some honor and recognition. (1 Timothy 5:17)

2. Respect the time limit

Ask how long you are scheduled to preach and stick with it! DO NOT go longer than the time you are given. You are a guest. Don’t over stay your welcome!

Not all churches have a clock visible from stage, so I personally use thePresentation Clock app on my iPhone. I set the time I have to preach, and it counts…

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I love visiting other churches. I love walking on a church campus for the first time pretending I know nothing about church. It helps me understand how people might feel when they come to visit my church for the first time.

I visited a new church this week that I have never been to. They have a nice building. Their volunteers were friendly. The music was good. But as I sat and listened to the pastor, for some reason I was having trouble connecting.

The content was good, but something in his delivery was off. That’s when I realized the problem. The pastor had lousy eye contact.

His eyes bounced left, right, then down at his notes. Left, right, notes. Left, right, notes.

Although the message was thought out, his eyes betrayed him. His nerves showed. And it made it hard to watch and listen.

Eye contact is critical for four major reasons.

4 Benefits of Eye Contact in Preaching:

1. Eye Contact Builds Trust

When people lie, what do their eyes do? They look away! That is why people will say, “Look me in the eyes and tell me the truth.”…

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Are you losing people when you preach?

Do people check out during your sermons?

After listening to thousands of sermons and preaching quite a few myself, I have learned 8 different ways that pastors lose people in their sermons.

1. Sloppy Transitions

You just told a great story. It was funny and thought-provoking. But as soon as the story ended you suddenly switched direction and started talking about something else.

Wait… what? Slow down. How did we get from that funny thing your kid did to some old guy in the Old Testament?

Where is the connection?

You have to make clear connections between one part of your sermon and the next. Otherwise, people get lost in the transition.

It is as simple as saying, “that funny thing my kid did reminds me of a story in the old testament where a man named Samuel experienced something similar.”

Boom. Bridge built. Transition made. I see where you are going.

Typical transition points are after the introduction, before and after scripture, before and after illustrations, and before the conclusion.

Please don’t overlook how important a simple transition statement is in keeping everyone in the audience on track with you.

2. Too Many Points

I recently…

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Facebook TipsFacebook is kind of a big deal. Pastors cannot afford to ignore it.

You know how I know Facebook has taken over the world? My Mom uses it.

Facebook started as a college thing. Then it became popular with high schoolers. But suddenly moms, dads, and grandmothers are all over Facebook. Chances are, most of the people in your church are too.

Social media isn’t just a fad. It’s here to stay.

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee cc

So, how should a pastor best use Facebook to advance the Church?

I don’t have all the answers, but here are a few things I have learned.

7 Facebook Tips For Pastors

1. Don’t Mistake Facebook Friendships for Real Relationships

Here is a mistake I have been guilty of. I comment on someone’s status, or like a pic and think I am a highly relational pastor engaged in the lives of my people.

This is a trap that many young pastors fall into.

Although Facebook messages, comments, and likes are nice (and you should be doing this), a Facebook comment will never hold the same weight as a personal phone call. A direct message conversation will never be the same as a conversation over coffee. Sharing…

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1. Thou shall turn off notifications.

The only thing worse than a cell phone ringing in the middle of a prayer is the preacher’s iPad ringing in the middle of a prayer.

Make sure to turn on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ switch in ‘Settings’. I also turn on ‘Airplane Mode’ just to make sure I don’t have anything popping up from Wi-Fi.

At one location I preached there was a very weak Wi-Fi signal that I didn’t have the password to. A Wi-Fi connection message kept popping up while I was preaching.

You don’t want any distractions from the message God has given you.

2. Thou shall turn off auto-lock.

I have forgotten to do this a few times. Five minutes into the message my iPad blacked out. It totally threw me off.

I had to pause what I was saying, open the iPad, and swipe to unlock before resuming the message. This is even worse if your iPad is password protected.

Always make sure to open up ‘Setting’, tap ‘General’ and set ‘Auto-Lock’ to ‘Never’.

3. Thou shall lower the brightness.

If the stage is dark and the brightness is too high your iPad will…

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