Archives For Preaching

SpeakingEvery day, someone in America is committing career suicide. But it’s not with a gun or even drugs – it’s with a podium. Respected men and women – often excellent leaders and employees – but who end up dying a horrible death in front of an audience – usually at an industry conference, corporate meeting, or workshop.  It doesn’t take a CSI officer from the crime lab to analyze the evidence from the scene. It can easily be found in an audience filled with people nodding off to sleep, checking their e-mail, mumbling to themselves, or finding excuses to leave early.

The truth is, most speaker mistakes could easily be solved with a few easy steps – keys that only take a short time to learn, but could literally catapult your speaking career to an entirely new level.  So if you’re preparing for an upcoming conference or workshop, or know someone who is, look over this list carefully.

…It might save you from the dreaded “ECH” (Early Career Humiliation).

Workshop Titles:

1. Titles are critically important for their advertising and promotional value, so I suggest you make it “sexy” but not “cute.” “Sexy” simply means…

Continue Reading

Candle LightsWhen man landed on the moon, that was big news. It was almost as if the whole world stopped to watch Neil Armstrong’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. But it is nothing compared to the news that God landed on the earth. Jesus Christ is God, and his birth is when God came to Earth.

The Relevance of Christmas: God Came to Earth

Jesus “always had the nature of God …” (Philippians 2:6 TEV) Jesus was God, and he came to live among us for a while (John 1). That is the relevance of Christmas.

Jesus didn’t start in the stable. He existed even before Creation. The preeminence of Christ is explained in Colossians, where we are told he is the exact likeness of the unseen God, he existed before anything else, and, in truth, he is the Creator who made everything in Heaven and on Earth (Colossians 1:15-16).

We may have a hard time relating to a vague being in the sky, but Jesus is God in the flesh. The Bible says if you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen God (John 1). If Jesus really is God and God…

Continue Reading

Turkey“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 NLT)

When the Apostle Paul says, “Always be full of joy in the Lord,” he doesn’t say to only be joyful in good times. Even when times are tough, the Bible teaches we can be joyful if we follow this simple strategy:

Don’t worry about anything.Worrying doesn’t change anything. It’s stewing without doing. There are no such things as born-worriers. Worry is a learned response. You learned it from your parents. You learned it from your peers. You learned it from experience. That’s good news: The fact that worry is learned means it can also be unlearned.

How do you unlearn it? Jesus says in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (NIV). He’s saying don’t open your umbrella until it starts raining. Live one day at a time.

Pray about everything. Instead of worrying, use your time for praying. If you prayed as much as you worried, you’d have a lot less to worry about. Is God interested in car payments? Yes. He’s interested in every…

Continue Reading

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….

Continue Reading

SpeakingDo you remember public speaking in school when you were growing up? Maybe there was a class specifically dedicated to it, or maybe it would just roll around every once in awhile when projects were due or presentations were required.

The words themselves, “public speaking,” seem to carry an immense amount of pressure. They connote sweaty palms, cracking voices, and hours practicing in front of the mirror.

For some people, those words are about as welcome in their lives as a spider or a confined space.

Public speaking isn’t easy, but it is necessary—especially as a pastor.

So I’ve compiled the advice I’ve heard over the years into a quick, simple list.

Here are the three things every great public speaker knows:  

1. Telling a story is the best way to engage an audience. 

Telling a story is your best bet for not only connecting to and engaging your audience, but also for ensuring they’ll retain the information you give them. For some reason, our minds are wired to remember stories more than any other method of information delivery.

We can listen to facts all day and rarely remember more than a few of them.

But when we hear a…

Continue Reading

BibleOne of the greatest challenges as a pastor is when you know God wants you to preach on a sensitive and challenging subject. Some pastors do all they can to avoid or ignore these kinds of matters.

Yet, I have a question for you. When God is so clear on a subject in His Word and the culture is facing the issue in a glaring way, how can a biblical preacher not address it? At the same time, I want to be more than clear: we do not need to do this continually, as if we are on the hunt for a fight. But there are moments when God has led us to deal with a current issue.

How do we preach sensitive and challenging subjects?

In mid-July, God began to put the immigration crisis before me and on my heart. You can go back and read various things I have written relating to this crisis in our nation. One was written before I went to the border of Texas and the other was written after returning from the border. Upon my return, I began to seriously study this issue and once I looked upon it from…

Continue Reading

Preaching On the Street

God has a purpose for everything. The Bible says in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Pr. 19:21 (NIV) God has a specific purpose for preaching, and His purpose is far more important than your purpose or my purpose for preaching.

One of the greatest problems in our churches is purposeless preaching. So many sermons are made up of many words in search of a purpose. Each weekend, 55 million people listen to 1 billion words in sermons given in America alone. Yet research shows that the biggest complaint people have is that sermons are boring and don’t relate to their lives. 

If the purpose of preaching isn’t clear to the preacher, it won’t be to the listeners! My friend Charles Swindoll says, “If there’s a mist in the pulpit, there’s a fog in the pew!” Without a clear purpose, preaching is a misuse of the Bible, a waste of time to the people, and a frustration to the preacher.

Every preacher ought to have a solid theology of preaching so that we understand why we’re doing what we’re doing every weekend….

Continue Reading

NOTE: We’ve added a third week!

Preaching Ranch

Be part of an exclusive cohort of Pastors and take your preaching to an all-new level by choosing one of two weeks in September and joining us at Saddleback’s Rancho Capistrano for a three-day in-depth workshop on preaching for life change. Nothing is more powerful for changing lives, casting a vision, and shaping the future direction of a church than preaching.

Is your preaching changing the hearts and lives of your people? Do you desire to become a better communicator to reach the lost in your community? Each weekend, 55 million people listen to 1 billion words in sermons given across America. Yet research shows that the #1 complaint people have is that sermons are boring and don’t relate to their lives. The simple fact is that preaching makes or breaks a church.

This three day conference will help you develop creative approaches, strategies, and techniques to communicate the only message that can truly change a person’s life. It’s practical information that is transferable, regardless of church size, denomination or cultural-context.

We want to host you:

  • A guest room on our Ranch property in beautiful Southern Orange County, CA Check in:…

    Continue Reading

Break LightI have a friend who is really into rebuilding old cars. It is an art form to take a rusted out car from the scrap heap or auction lot and restore it to better than new condition.

He once told me that when you rebuild a car, you don’t just add the parts that are missing. That wouldn’t work. Why? Because many of the existing parts are beyond repair. Rust, corrosion, and years of damage have left them unusable.

The car must be broken down piece by piece, cleaned, restored, and reassembled with new parts for a proper restoration.

I think that is a lot like preaching.

Preaching could be described as the act of breaking down existing world views, and then rebuilding them Biblically.

You break it, then build it.

Do you ever do this when preaching?

For example, I were preaching about marriage, I would start by breaking down how most people view marriage.

I would talk about how the idea of marriage is eroding in our culture. I would talk about the rise in unhappy marriages and divorce, because our way isn’t working. I might tell a funny story or two about how my flawed…

Continue Reading

As a “professional communicator) I get the privilege of doing a lot of speaking to a ton of different groups. God has blessed me to speak in front of big groups (just got done preaching two hours ago to 5,000 teenagers at #IYC2014 in Nashville), small groups (I do a weekly staff chapel service for our staff of 23 strong at Dare 2 Share) and medium sized groups (anything in between 23 and 5,000  )

After I prepare a sermon there are 5 pre-sermon rituals I go through before it’s “go time.” Here are the five rituals I do before I preach:

1. Review relentlessly.

Before I preach my sermon I go over the sermon outline again and again. My goal is to be know the material so well that nobody notices me looking down at my notes. If I know it that well then, if my notes spontaneously combusted, I would still have a message from God I could deliver.

2. Adjust quickly.

There is nothing like a pending audience to give you adrenalin to second guess lame illustrations and weak points. I always carry a pen…

Continue Reading

Appeal In PreachingWhen we preach the Bible, we are leading people to encounter God and respond to Him personally. As we work our way through the specific text we are preaching, we are leading them to encounter the God who wrote this Bible.

My Personal Testimony

I believe when a preacher of God’s Word unpacks the Scripture, revealing the Lord Jesus and His greatness, he preaches for decision. As we work our way through the text, periodically sharing illustrations that relate to the meaning of the text, then making the needed applications from the text, we are moving people to decision.

I grew up watching Billy Graham crusades on television, as well as other men like Jerry Falwell and Adrian Rogers, who would always move people to respond to God. Therefore, not only because of their influence, but the influence of many others, including my home church, I have believed all these years that when we preach God’s Word, we are moving people to a moment of decision. I also believe the words recorded in God’s Word in 2 Corinthians 5:11, “Therefore, because we know the fear of the Lord, we seek to persuade men.” God’s…

Continue Reading

Nothing thrills a Pastor more than seeing real transformation happen in the lives of people. We want to see people grow up and become completely mature – completely like Jesus Christ. Another word for this is sanctification, and sanctification always begins as God’s Spirit uses God’s truth to change the mind, heart, and will of His follower.

Jesus prayed to the father in John 17:17, “Use the truth to make them complete. Your Word is truth.” Transformation is change, and change happens as we apply God’s truth to every area of our lives. The first responsibility of Pastors and shepherds is to preach God’s truth, which transforms the lives of our hearers into the image of Jesus Christ.

One of the primary marks of spiritual immaturity is when other people can easily sway us away from the truth. Not knowing the truth of God’s Word causes us to change our beliefs back and forth, repeatedly, which creates an unstable life. Paul said in Ephesians 4:14-15 that when we…

Continue Reading