Archives For Lane Sebring

Recently my church hosted a leadership conference to encourage and equip our lay leaders and staff. One of the speakers at the event, Nikki, impacted me with her engaging presentation. She spoke for nearly an hour training our leaders how to do ministry effectively in our context. About halfway through her presentation I had filled my page with notes and was eager for more. I started to think about what made the experience so captivating. I turned the page over and jotted down some notes that I want to share with you. Nikki embodied the four irresistible traits of speakers who connect with their audience.

Speakers who connect:

1. Relate to their audience. Irresistible speakers know how to relate to their audience. They understand the need people have to feel understood, and they make an effort to demonstrate to their listeners that they get them. When Nikki spoke that day it impacted me because I was convinced that she understood me. The subject matter was sensitive and controversial. She was speaking as an authority on the subject, so if I didn’t think she understood where I was coming from I wouldn’t have trusted her…

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It’s more important than ever before to work on gaining and keeping the attention of your listeners while you preach. Capturing and maintaining attention is one of the most difficult things a communicator must do. But I don’t think this difficulty has much to do with attention span. Some will say that it’s just because people have shorter attention spans than a generation ago. While attention spans may be shorter, this doesn’t tell the whole story. I do believe shorter sermons are almost always better, but what makes them better has more to do with how it makes the preacher deliver a better sermon when he has less time to waste with filler, rambling, and incoherence.

The reason we have to work harder to gain and keep attention has to do with what competes for the attention of our people every time we preach. Our listeners are so distracted, and we need to know what we’re up against. Some of these distractions are new, and some are as timeless as humanity, but they are all present every time you stand up to preach. Here are four things competing for your people’s attention during…

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Preaching PulpitEvery time we preach we have an opportunity to fulfill our God-given calling to impact lives with the truth of God’s Word and the hope of the Gospel. But the effectiveness of our preaching is impacted by a host of variables we cannot control, including distractions in the room. But there is something we can control, and that is how well we prepare.

I’ve written extensively on several aspects of sermon preparation including forming a preaching team, nailing down a weekly prep schedule, and seeking healthy feedback. But I find one of the most often neglected aspects of effective sermon preparation is rehearsing the sermon. By rehearsing I mean preaching the entire message by yourself (or to a handful of people) before you actually preach the sermon to your church.

The reluctance to rehearse is varied. Some preachers might think it’s awkward to preach to themselves. They’re totally right, by the way. It is awkward, but that does not mean you shouldn’t do it. Other preachers might avoid it because they don’t think it’s necessary. Still others may have just never thought of it. I…

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Preparing Sermons with a Team

Preachers do weird things. One weird thing we do is prepare our sermons alone. Every week you have to get up in front of a group of people and say words. Those words have to be engaging, powerful, motivating, encouraging, accurate, practical, and spiritual all at the same time.

Every. Single. Week.

And you prepare alone. All by yourself. I think this started with Moses. He went up on a mountain and heard from God. He came down and told the people, “This is what God said.” We’ve never really changed the model. Preachers have been preparing sermons alone ever since.

I used to prepare my sermons alone. I would read commentaries, watch sermons, and research articles, but it was mostly just me, by myself.

If you’re like most preachers, you prepare alone. The problem is, you are not Moses. You are not an Old Testament prophet. There is nothing requiring you to use this method. I’m not saying God can’t speak to you in your study. You should hear from God as you prepare. If you’ve been preaching for any length of time, you know how exhilarating it is to spend time in…

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A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pew.“~C.H. Spurgeon

With each sermon you preach, you should be absolutely crystal clear what you want your people to take away from it. If you are murky about how they’ll be able to use your message, then you can be sure they’ll be clueless. Not to mention that they’ll pick up on your uncertainty and check out because their time is valuable and you have chosen to waste it.

As preachers who want to communicate well, clarity must be a top priority in every sermon. But it’s easy, and sometimes necessary, to focus a most of your prep time on your content and not your listeners. This makes it so crucial to think through how your listeners will receive and use your message. I want to give you three simple tests that will help you ensure that your sermon is ready to go in terms of its impact on your listeners and their ability to apply it.

This is drop-dead simple, and it’s meant to be. At this point in your prep you have already done the complicated stuff, this is the icing on the cake that…

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How you begin your sermon is vital. It can mean the difference between your listeners checking out or deciding to pay close attention. The things you say at the beginning of a sermon are what your listeners subconsciously use to build a framework for your whole message. If your thoughts are murky and unclear, you’re laying an unstable foundation.

The first 90 seconds of your sermon are some of the most powerful seconds you have. Don’t waste them. Your listeners decide within these first 90 seconds whether they will keep listening to you or not. This is particularly true if they don’t know you. But even if they do know you and like you as a preacher, every Sunday is a new opportunity to engage them or lose them. And both engagement and disengagement happen faster than you think.

Here are 3 Must-Do’s of a Strong Sermon Opening

1. Start high. When you step onto the stage to present the Word of God you should be thrilled! You should revel in the privilege you have to teach people about the love God has for them. And it should show. Smile. Greet your people. Be genuinely energetic…

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I recently met with a pastor who leads a thriving church in my area. He planted the church in 2003 and it has grown from three families to 2,500 people in attendance today. He spent an hour with me sharing a lot of fantastic insights about casting vision, setting direction, and bringing people along on mission to reach the community. I want to share with you one of the most valuable pieces of advice he gave me: Tell your church what they are.

Tell Your Church What They Are

Tell your church what they are and eventually they’ll become that. These words rang inside my head as he explained that his job as a pastor is to set the expectation high and let his church know he believes that’s who they are. Eventually, they will become that.

Great leaders set high expectations and truly believe their church is capable of meeting them. This principle is the same in school teaching. If a teacher expects a lot out of a student, the student will likely rise to the occasion and deliver. If the teacher expects very little from a student, the student will meet the low expectation…

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Anyone who preaches typically has a lot to say. You have more to say than you have time to communicate on Sunday morning. This is why so many preachers preach too long. But what you have to say is important. And, believe it or not, there’s a lot of people, beginning with those in your local church, who want to know what you have to say about a lot of things. You’re a spiritual leader in their lives and your thoughts, experiences, and opinions matter to them.

This is why you should blog. This is why I blog.

In my last post I shared my journey of blogging for one year. This post will explore two ways blogging can enhance your ministry. Then, I want to give you some simple steps to get started setting up your blog and writing your first post.

1. Blogging increases your influence and kingdom impact.

There are people who would read your blog because you wrote it. There are others who currently don’t know you who would find you, appreciate your writing and follow you if you started blogging.

I’ve met and interacted with so many people as a result…

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PreachingDo you ever get stuck in a sermon prep rut? I do. Sometimes the sermon comes together like a beautifully crafted work of art. But other times I struggle to make progress in my study. It’s hard to break out of sermon prep stuck-ness. I’ve learned a few things that help me overcome these stuck times, and I want to share them with you. Here’s 16 things you can do this week to get unstuck in your sermon prep:

1. Put away your study materials and pray for ten minutes about nothing but your sermon. Preaching is supernatural work and prayer reemphasizes in your own heart that you are utterly dependent on God to empower you to preach effectively.

2. Read the text five times slowly. It’s amazing how quickly we tend to move away from the text to study materials and sermon formulation. Put away everything else and just read the text multiples times letting it speak to you.

3. Open the voice memo app on your smart phone, hit record and start preaching what you have so far. You may find that speaking the words helps you formulate them better or in a different way…

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