Archives For Preaching

Speaking

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.

The…

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Part One: Start with People

I love the practicality and simplicity of Jesus’ teaching. It was clear, relevant, and applicable.  He aimed for application because his goal was to transform people, not merely inform them.

Consider the greatest sermon ever preached, The Sermon on the Mount:

  • Jesus began by sharing eight secrets of genuine happiness;
  • Then he talked about living an exemplary lifestyle, controlling anger, restoring relationships, and the issues of adultery and divorce.
  • Next he spoke of keeping promises and returning good for evil.
  • Then Jesus moved on to other practical life issues like how to give with the right attitude, how to pray, how to store up treasure in heaven, and how to overcome worry.
  • He wraps up his message by telling us to not judge others, encouraging persistence when asking God to meet our needs, and warning us about false teachers.
  • Finally, he concludes with a simple story that emphasizes the importance of acting on what he’s taught: Put into practice what you’ve just learned!

This is the kind of preaching that we need in churches today. It changes lives! It’s not enough to simply proclaim, “Christ is the Answer.” We must show the unchurched how Christ is…

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There has never been a more appealing and interesting preacher than Jesus. Why not model him?

Jesus’ preaching attracted enormous crowds, and the Bible often records the positive reactions of those crowds to his teaching.

  • Matthew 7:28 – “… the crowds were amazed at his teaching.”
  • Matthew 22:33 (TLB) – “… the crowds were profoundly impressed.”
  • Mark 11:18 (TLB) – “… people were so enthusiastic about Jesus’ teaching.”
  • Mark 12:37 (NASB) – “The great crowd enjoyed listening to Him.”

These crowds had never heard anyone speak to them the way Jesus did. They were spellbound by his delivery.

To capture the attention of unbelievers like Jesus did, we must communicate spiritual truth the way he did. I believe that Jesus – not anyone else – must be our model for preaching. Unfortunately, some homiletics classes pay more attention to Aristotle and Greek rhetoric than to how Jesus taught.

In John 12:49 Jesus admitted, “The Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.”  Notice that both the content AND the delivery style were directed by the Father. This is extremely important to note. We often overlook the manner in which Jesus preached.

There’s so much we can…

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Jesus used sermon illustrations.

Truth.

We usually call them parables. Let me tell you about one from the book of Matthew.

After performing a miracle, Jesus turned at his disciples and said, “If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move” (17:20).

The imagery of a mustard seed moving a mountain is powerful. First, a mustard seed is incredibly small. Yet, given the proper environment and resources, it grows to be a large plant.

Second, Jesus is not far from a place called Herodian. Herodian is what King Herod called the mountaintop palace he built to celebrate a victory over the Parthians.

There’s something interesting I should share about Herod’s mountaintop palace. Before he built it, THERE WAS NO MOUNTAIN.

How can you build a mountaintop palace without a mountain?!

Simple, Herod had a mountain built.

He took dirt from another place to create his very own personalized mountain.

Using this popular image, Jesus taught his disciples an important truth: if they have faith in God, they can do greater things than King Herod.

The disciples probably never forgot what Jesus said that day.

When it comes to using…

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Preachers, have you ever noticed that some of your most well received messages are the ones for which you have studied the least? Don’t worry, I’m not advocating a lack of study. However, I think it is important to understand why this phenomenon occurs.

When an idea first enters your mind, it is simple to comprehend. Just consider the experience of reading Scripture and having a new insight, which revolutionizes your thinking. All of a sudden, you see everything through the lens of your new insight. At this stage, you don’t have a lot of information, which allows you to have amazing clarity. Let’s call this stage one.

Stage one preaching tends to flow brilliantly from your mouth because the insight is clear – there is no “extra information” to trip over in your presentation.

Of course, the beauty of stage one preaching is also the fault: lack of information. This leaves stage one preaching open to misleading statements, unbalanced presentation of Scripture, and misapplication of the text.

Perhaps you have preached a stage one sermon and received wonderful complements. Then, the next time you have an opportunity to preach to a different audience, you decide to…

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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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Revival

As a pastor, church members would occasionally ask, “Why don’t we have revivals?” To which I would sometimes answer, “I don’t know, but I wish God would send one soon –don’t you?”

Of course, I knew what they were really asking. “Why don’t we have a series of services set aside each year for preaching and singing?”

First, let me say that I love preaching and I love singing. And I don’t have a problem with setting aside a series of services. However, I do have a problem with getting the cart before the horse.

Revival is the supernatural moving of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of men drawing them to repent of their sins and follow Christ more vigorously. During revival, the backsliders become worshippers, the self-absorbed become Christ-infatuated, and the nominal become evangelizers. True revival is evidenced by vast changes in the way believers talk, serve, work, and live.

Over the history of Christianity, God has never sent revival because a church scheduled services, hired a preacher, arranged for musicians, or invited crowds. (This is where the cart gets before the horse) Instead, God has promised revival “if my people who are…

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Old BibleThere are no “good” people in the Bible – at least not in the theological sense – except for Jesus. Everybody else is wrecked and ruined by sin and desperately in need of a Savior. So the way we have traditionally approached character-based sermons has a tremendous flaw. Here’s the traditional approach…


  1. Tell the story of a Bible character.
  2. Highlight the good stuff they did.
  3. Challenge people to follow their examples.

I’ve done plenty of that kind of preaching in my life in ministry, and I wish I could go back and re-preach them all from a totally different perspective. There are some major flaws with this kind of preaching. First of all, it’s moralism. It gives the idea that we can, in our own power, actually DO the good things we see the characters doing. But we can’t. We don’t. We fail repeatedly.

Second, preaching in this way assumes that the central protagonist of the story is a human being such as Abraham, David, or Paul. But the real protagonist in both the metanarrative of Scripture as well as each of its rather diverse stories is God. It’s about him. It’s his book, he’s…

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