Archives For Preaching

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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Your congregation can invest in eternity by using their money for God’s purposes. It is secure. It is risk free. It comes with guaranteed interest. It yields dividends forever.

The Bible says, “Tell people to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share whatever God has given them. By doing this they’ll be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven. It is the only safe investment for eternity and they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well.” (1 Timothy 6:18-19, TLB)

1. Invest in God’s treasury fund (worship).

This is the investment fund most of your congregation will know about – tithing. We invest in the treasury fund by using some of our money to express worship.

There’s nothing we can give God that he needs. And God certainly doesn’t need our money. But when we give an offering to God – an undesignated, planned, and proportional offering where and when we worship – we’re saying, “God I love you.”

The Bible says, “Honor the Lord by giving him the first part of all your…

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Preaching is a sacred task. We who shepherd congregations are entrusted with the assignment of opening God’s very own words to his people, week after week, and translating ancient truth to today’s people. We are to preach so as to build up (edify), to hold up (encourage), and to fire up (exhort).

I’m burdened that so much preaching today remains in its ancient context and fails to be interpreted to our current cultural circumstances. I agree with Chuck Swindoll that boring preaching is a crime, and I wish more pastors would come to the pulpit not only prayed up, but touched with the feelings of their flock. In a given year of preaching, we ought to at least touch on every major area of doctrine, each genre of Scripture, and address the major points of pain and need in people’s lives from Scripture.

I do this by preaching thematically in shorter series’ but it can also be accomplished through an expository framework equally well. But this isn’t really a post about what topics, themes, or books of the Bible you should be preaching from. It also isn’t about preaching about current cultural crises which, while…

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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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Foundations

The Bible says, in John 7:13, “No one had the courage to speak favorably about Jesus in public” (NLT). Even some of history’s greatest spokespeople for the gospel have struggled in their resolve to proclaim the truth boldly. The Bible says in Acts 18:9, “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent'” (NIV).

In our current cultural climate, it’s more intimidating than ever to stand up for biblical truths that are seen as politically incorrect. And in order to do so, courageously, believers need a thorough understanding of the world that is framed by Scripture.

Everyone thinks about the world through a particular lens, or filter. We refer to this filter as someone’s “worldview.” And in our post-Christian culture, most Christians have a non-Christian worldview. In other words, a big part of our preaching assignment is helping our listeners to see the world through the lens of a biblical worldview.

Our task is not necessarily to shape the specific opinions that people should have on a particular topic, unless the Bible directly and clearly addresses it. Instead, our job is to present a biblical worldview…

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Prayer

Does prayer make any difference? Absolutely! And prayer makes a difference because the living God, the Holy Spirit, lives inside the one praying. Further, when God’s people get together and pray as a community, amazing things happen!

I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of those before-and-after photos advertising the latest weight loss and fitness program. The Bible gives us a pretty neat before-and-after picture of the early church. Before the Holy Spirit empowered the church at Pentecost, the apostles are waiting, hiding, and hoping. And they’re praying.

Then Pentecost occurs. The fire falls. The Spirit empowers. And things begin to happen. Thousands are saved and added to the church. Miracles occur. Healing takes place. The impact is so tangible that the church leaders start getting in trouble for bringing attention to the crime of the unfair crucifixion of Jesus. Peter and John heal a crippled man at one of the Temple gates and it lands them in jail where they take a beating and are sternly warned not to speak any more in the name of Jesus.

Upon their release, instead of cowering away in fear, the Bible says this…

As soon as they were freed, Peter…

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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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Broken Guy

“I’m not broken. Get off my Facebook.”

Our church uses a lot of sponsored Facebook posts. Aside from attenders bringing friends, it’s the primary way that people in Northwest Arkansas discover us and check us out on Sunday. One of our posts referenced an upcoming message about brokenness and that comment was left by someone, annoyed that our sponsored ad showed up in their newsfeed.

I’m okay with that. I don’t like annoying people so we always apologize and offer a quick instruction for removing us permanently from their content stream. But I have to respectfully disagree with the comment’s author. There are actually two kinds of people in our culture.

  1. Those who are broken and don’t know it or won’t admit it.
  2. Those who are broken and do know it.

There are no unbroken people. Of this fact, Scripture is quite clear. It may help for me to define what brokenness is all about. We’re all broken because of sin. Universally, we’ve walked away from God, which has left a crack in our identity that can only be cured by the blood of the cross via repentance. And almost as universally, most of us are also broken by the sins of…

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You don’t know it all. There are limits to your knowledge, ability, and energy. And while the competitive nature of our culture, which often sneaks into our lives in ministry, would have us to hid all of our weaknesses in fear, there is tremendous power in becoming vulnerable with people.

Deciding to become vulnerable is risky. As church leaders, there will be people in our congregations who don’t want us to be human. They would prefer that we wear a halo and pretend that we’re never really tempted to sin in the same ways that they are. They feel safer if we, as spiritual leaders, are immune to the crass realities of life.

But when we hide our weaknesses, three big problems arise:

  • Our weaknesses get worse, feeding off of the shame and secrecy.
  • We become dishonest and hypocritical.
  • The truth inevitably comes out and people are disillusioned as a result.

So is bearing our vulnerability worth the risk? Absolutely. Here are some important reasons why vulnerability is a forgotten virtue of great leadership…

1. It’s emotionally healthy.

Maintaining an image of perfection requires enormous amounts of emotional energy. One of the reasons we sometimes get so stressed out and depressed is…

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CrossChurch

Once a year, we have an unprecedented opportunity to welcome some in our communities who would not normally attend church. I want to give you some things to consider as we move toward the final planning stages for Easter weekend.

1. Plan for Easter to be a Great Success

If you do not plan for success, it will not happen. What is success? You will have to pray about and define what you believe success looks like in your church. For us at Cross Church, success for Easter weekend looks like:

  • God is present with us in great power
  • Increased numbers of people present that exceed a regular Sunday
  • People hear the gospel and place faith in Christ alone for salvation
  • Extra services so more people have the opportunity to hear the Gospel
  • Members and guests have a fabulous experience at Cross Church

The last several years we have had a major Passion Week emphasis each day leading up to Easter Weekend. Since our spring break occurs at the same time as Passion Week this year, we have decided not to do our Passion Week emphasis and will do other things to accelerate forward.

On a normal Sunday, we have eleven services on…

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If there’s one thing we know about Easter, it’s that many Senior Pastors go to great lengths to mobilize their congregations to get new people to attend on this day.

Many think this is a wasted attempt to pander to “Chreasters.” I completely disagree.

Increasing your Easter attendance is important, but not for reasons commonly thought. Here are four reasons why doing everything you can to increase your Easter attendance matters to the mission of your church.

1. More Than Likely 25% of All Your Visitors This Year Will Come On Easter

At CCV we know that roughly 50% of all newcomers will come at Easter and Christmas. The rest are evenly sprinkled throughout the year. That obviously means that half, or 25%, of all the visitors that come to your church this year will come this Sunday. Most outreach-focused churches have similar newcomer attendance and retention figures.

2. Only 10% Of Those Visitors Will Come Back

We also know that if 10 people visit our church, 1 of them will return and become a growing Christ Follower. Why is this important?

It’s important because if you are a church of, say, 150, that wants to break the 200 barrier and grow to…

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No other institution on earth has the potential to change the world and address global issues as the local church. No force on earth is as unstoppable as the local church when it is functioning as a unified body of believers. And nothing brings a church together in unity better than a growth campaign.

The greatest waves of growth that Saddleback Church has ever experienced have been the result of the various church-wide campaigns that we’ve done. When we set aside six to eight weeks to concentrate, as a church family, on a single theme, amazing things happen, such as…

  • People bring their friends, co-workers, and neighbors to church.
  • Hundreds of people are baptized.
  • All kinds of new small groups form and launch.
  • Some people give financially for the first time, and everyone sacrifices for the Kingdom.
  • The church grows larger, deeper, broader, warmer, and stronger.

As you plan your preaching over the next twelve months, plan at least one, if not two, opportunities for your church to align around a single theme. Some of our more well-known campaigns have included Decade of Destiny, 40 Days In the Word, What On Earth…

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