Archives For Preaching

Most church conflict results from poor communication. Even your best ideas, plans, or suggestions are worthless if you can’t communicate them effectively. Remember, communication is not automatic. Just because someone hears you say something doesn’t mean they’re really listening.

Fortunately, there are seven skills you can develop that will guarantee people will listen when you speak. Just follow these guidelines from the Bible:

  1. CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME! Timing is the first key. You may be ready to talk, but are they ready to listen? Never drop a bomb! “There is a right time and a right way to do everything.” Eccl. 8:6 (GN)
  2. PLAN YOUR PRESENTATION. Think it through first. Especially plan your introduction and your supporting illustrations. Don’t start with the detail. In TV they move from the long shot to the medium shot to the close up. “Intelligent people think before they speak. What they say is then more persuasive.” Prov. 16:23 (GN)
  3. BEGIN WITH HIS OR HER NEEDS. A listener is always asking “Why should I listen to this?” and “How will it benefit me?” If you answer those two questions up front, you will have their undivided attention. “Speak only…according…

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You can learn a lot about a person by their conversation. Listen long enough and you will discover what they value most.

The same could be said about churches. In the recent past, such issues as music style, facility design and sermon length have dominated discussions and debate. While all of those topics have their place, if we treat them as the most important issues in the church, we reveal that our values are immature.

In my opinion, the day is fast approaching when the church will no longer have the luxury of treating lesser things as though they were of greater importance. The decreasing elements of Christian influence in pop culture will force churches to re-evaluate their values. Here are four value shifts that I believe will soon take place in American evangelical churches. In many congregations, the conversations are already transitioning.

  • From Style to Substance. As church members are forced to contemplate whether they should attend their niece’s same-sex marriage, or provide insurance coverage for life-terminating drugs, they will care less about whether the pastor is “easy on the ears” and more about whether he is able to apply faithful Bible proclamation to relevant…

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At first glance you’d probably think I’m resistant to change. I don’t drink Starbucks coffee. I’m still not used to women having tattoos. I’m not getting an earring any time soon. And my wife says I still have the same haircut I had when I was in fifth grade. I assume she thinks that’s a bad thing.

By all appearances you’d think I’m someone that wants to keep things just the way they are. But I’m not. I love change. I love the thrill of staying current, or even staying one step ahead. I love anticipating trends. I’m usually not too concerned with running with the pack.

But there is one change that troubles me: It’s the lack of talk about hell by pastors.

I’m not troubled by who is going to hell. Unfortunately for Boston Red Sox fans, this is one thing we all agree upon.

I’m troubled by the lack of talk about, writing about, preaching about, and deeply held conviction regarding the reality of hell by pastors today.

Why is this happening?

We Pastors Want To Appear Compassionate And Inclusive

When my daughters were in Elementary school their school put on an annual holiday musical program. Every…

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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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Paul addressed the issue of sincerity in preaching on several occasions throughout the New Testament. One such instance is 2 Corinthians 2:17, “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” As I have reflected on this verse, it’s given me some comfort to know that the issues that plague modern Christianity also faced the apostles. I’ve also found an important value in preaching – sincerity.

Sure, there are false teachers, hucksters, and impostors in pulpits across the land today. There were in Paul’s day too. It’s nothing new. But the contrast to this trend is a revival of sincerity in the pulpit. Preaching has been defined by D. Martin-Lloyd Jones as “the communication of God’s truth through human personality.” So we preachers get to represent God’s truth through our very personality. The prayer, “hide me behind thy cross, O Lord,” doesn’t reflect an accurate understanding of what preaching is all about. God has called me to represent Him as only I can, and for you to do the same.

So sincerity is a key…

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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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Leaders are always defined by self-imposed standards. I’m not talking about standards set by other people, but standards they set for themselves. Great leaders always expect more from themselves than they do from their followers. They put forth more effort as well. That’s leadership.

If you were to look through the New Testament for the phrase “make every effort,” you’d find it six times. They represent six important vows we need to make as leaders. I believe these six vows will lead to an effective and productive ministry.

1) Vow to maintain integrity

“Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him” (2 Peter 3:14).

God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. No one is perfect. To be spotless and blameless means to live with integrity. How do you maintain integrity if you’re not perfect? You need to be transparent. A person of integrity is not claiming to have it all together in every area. On the contrary, the person of integrity is willing to be open about their strengths and weaknesses.

Having integrity also means living what you say you believe. You model what you teach. And you tell the truth,…

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I see preachers today erring in one of two directions and rarely finding the balance. That is, some preachers are grounded in the world of the Bible and committed to the text, but when they preach they’re dull and lifeless. They put their people to sleep. On the other hand, there are other preachers who are very creative and passionate and effective communicators, but they are not rooted in the biblical text. I’m seeing both of these extremes. We need to have preachers who marry these two things—a commitment to the biblical text and a commitment to passionate, creative delivery.

Dr. Hershael York (Professor of Christian Preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky)

Dr. York makes a point that I think most ministers miss: It’s important that preachers be both biblical and creative. We don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. Creativity and solid theology are not mutually exclusive.

This conversation can get people antsy. Talk about creativity, and some take it as an attack on the Bible. Talk theology, and some pastors think you want them to live in…

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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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There may be no more under appreciated person in the Kingdom that the bi-vocational pastor. Many of them are the only staff member of a small church. They work a job during the week and are still expected to perform most, if not all, of the ministry functions of a full-time pastor.

Through the years I have known bi-vocational pastors who had to take time off work to do funerals, did periodic weddings, and still had to preach two or three sermons a week. They did counseling, attended deacons meetings, met with the personnel committee, finance committee, or any number of other groups.

The week of a church planter was recently summarized like this:

Long days have become the standard for Nathan Vedoya. As a bi-vocational church planter, there’s no such thing as typical, but this may be as close as it gets. He wakes up early, shares the breakfast-making responsibilities with his wife, and drops the kids off at school before heading to his full-time job as the shelter manager for Hope Mission in Edmonton, Alberta. His wife, Deen-Deen, also heads out to a full day of work at around the same time.

Vedoya spends…

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Snow Church

I posted something negative about abortion on Facebook and then watched a mini-landslide of comments come in calling me all kinds of not-nice names. Others jumped in to stand up for life but it just wasn’t a pretty moment at this table of strangers. This issue, among plenty of others, begs the question: will we ever figure it all out?

Will we determine what righteousness in a nation really looks like? Will the innocent, born and unborn, be rescued? Will the victims of oppression ever be delivered? Will the poor ever eat well? Will the burdened ever have their burdens lightened?

The answer to all of these, of course, is yes. And it’s a big loud YES! because of the great, glorious agenda of King Jesus.

For those who choose to place their trust squarely in Jesus, the world will absolutely look much differently someday, and many of the issues we do battle over in the culture today will be solved once and for all to the benefit of the poorest and most broken among us. A psalmist once wrote about the agenda of the King with these words:

Praise the Lord!

Let all that I am…

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Simple and Interesting

Don’t miss the first two parts of this series:

Part One: Start with People
Part Two: Get Practical

The crowd loved to listen to Jesus. Mark 12:37 (NCV) says, “The large crowd listened to Jesus with pleasure.” The New International Version says they “listened with delight.”

Some pastors actually think they have failed in their preaching if people enjoy a message. I’ve heard pastors say proudly, “We’re not here to entertain.” If you look up the word “entertain” in a dictionary, you‘ll find this definition: “capturing and holding the attention for an extended period of time.” I don’t know any preacher who doesn’t want to do that! We shouldn’t be afraid of being interesting. A sermon doesn’t have to be dry to be spiritual.

To those outside the church, dull preaching is unforgivable. Truth poorly delivered is ignored. On the other hand, the unchurched will listen to absolute foolishness if it is interesting.

It never ceases to amaze to me how some Bible teachers are able to take the most exciting book in the world and bore people to tears with it. I believe it is a sin to bore people with the Bible.


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