Archives For Preaching

One of my biggest problems in sermon writing is what people call “analysis paralysis” – I get so involved studying for a sermon that, eventually, the more I study, the worse it becomes.

1. Do a Two-Minute Warning.

To cure this I started implementing something I call my “two-minute warning.” I stole it from my high school head football coach. Our high school football team went to the state championship (mostly due to our incredible coach and not so much because of the talent on the team).

Every Thursday at the very end of practice, the night before the big game, we would do what he would call the “two minute drill.” He would line us up on our own 10-yard line and then say, “Guys, you have two minutes to put the ball in the end zone.”

As the quarterback everything came rushing together — all the adrenaline, everything we had practiced, all the tips and ideas from our coaching staff — it all collided at that moment and forced me to quickly deduce what I needed to do to put the ball in the end zone.

I do a similar thing when I

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Many preachers believe the purpose of preaching is to explain the Bible, or to interpret the text, or to help people understand God’s Word. But these all fall short of what it really is.

Paul gives us God’s purpose of preaching in Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV): “Christ gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Why did God give prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers? To produce Christ-like people. That’s the purpose of preaching: to help people become like Jesus.

How does this happen? Through application. The only way lives are changed is through the application of God’s Word. The lack of application in preaching and teaching is, I believe, the number one problem with preaching in America.

Too many sermons are nothing more than lectures on biblical backgrounds or obscure Greek and Hebrew words. As a result,…

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Pastor, you’re surrounded by dirt.

To be more precise, you’re surrounded by soil – all kinds of soil. In your community, you have people who are ready to respond to the Gospel and people who aren’t. Your job is to isolate the good soil and plant your seed there.

Jesus clearly taught this notion of spiritual receptivity in the Parable of the Sower and the Soils (Matt. 13:3-23). Like different kinds of soil, people respond differently to the Good News. Everyone is not equally ready to receive Christ. Some people are very open to hearing the Gospel and others are very closed. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explained that there are hard hearts, shallow hearts, distracted hearts, and receptive hearts.

If you want your ministry to maximize its evangelism effectiveness, you need to focus your energy on the right soil. That’s the soil that will produce a hundred-fold harvest. Take a cue from those who work with actual dirt. No farmer in his right mind would waste seed, a precious commodity, on infertile ground that won’t produce a crop. In the same way, I believe…

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Hebrews 13:17 declares, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.“ In other words, don’t take your church leaders for granted. Instead, bring joy to their life by the way you treat them.

In light of this, here are five quick ideas to bless your pastor(s) this week:

  • Send him a handwritten note of appreciation. Be sure to mention specific ways he has influenced your life for Christ. Most pastors have no idea if they are making a difference and would be thrilled to receive such a note.
  • Gather a small group of people to pray over him before a Sunday service. There is nothing more reassuring prior to preaching than to know that your congregation is praying for you. It reminds him that he is not preaching to adversaries, but rather to fellow believers wanting to join him in hearing the Word of the Lord.
  • Talk positively behind his back. The temptation to gossip about church leadership is strong….

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Leadership comes with a microphone.  This is because in every leader’s life there comes a time when they must stand up and say, “Follow me!”

In an effort to help provide leaders with the best public speaking tools, I turned to the greatest leadership book ever written – the Bible.

In 1 Chronicles 28-29, King David stands before the nation of Israel and calls them to sacrifice for the construction of Solomon’s Temple.  In addition to casting vision for this legendary facility, there is an increased level of drama because David is handing the mantle of leadership to his son Solomon just prior to his death.

As I read the text, the following are 20 Things Great Public Speakers Do I gleaned from these two chapters.  First is the lesson followed by the supporting text.

  1. Great Public Speakers Know Their Audience – 28:1 – “Now David assembled at Jerusalem all the leader of Israel, the officers of the tribes and the captains of the divisions who served the king, the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and the stewards over all the substance and possessions of the king and of his sons, with the…

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When Jesus came along two thousand years ago, His character and His posture toward people can be summed up with two primary words:

“We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 NIV

Now I know some pastors who are just FULL OF IT, but that’s not what I’m talking about!

If our lives, ministries, and churches are to be marked by the character and posture of Jesus, our ministries should by full of two primary components: GRACE and TRUTH.

Both are equally necessary. Both must be held in tension. Both must be in balance.

Truth without grace or grace without truth makes our ministries out of balance.


Truth without grace is mean spirited. truth without grace beats up on people.

Truth without grace lacks love.

Truth without grace repels people away from Jesus.

Truth without grace tends to try to scare the Hell out of people…literally!

Truth without grace ceases to be the Gospel because the Gospel is Good News!

GRACE WITHOUT TRUTH is also wrong. 

Grace without truth lacks honesty.

Grace witout truth chooses not to confront sin.

Grace without truth is being nice…

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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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