Archives For Preaching

TeenagerPreaching to teenagers can be extremely challenging but extremely rewarding.

After spending years working as a Youth Pastor, I have learned a few things about preaching to teenagers.

These lessons were hard-learned through trial and error. Mostly error.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of everything you need to know. But hopefully these tips will help some of you not have to learn the hard way like I did.

1. Be Authentic

Be yourself. Don’t try to be cool. Don’t try to act just like a teenager or use all the same slang they use. Students have a built-in poser detector. They can spot a fake a mile away.

We have all met the 40-year-old youth pastor who is trying way too hard to be “hip.” Don’t be that guy.

We have also met the 20-year-old youth pastor who tries way too hard to be a hipster. Again, don’t be that guy.

Teenagers want to know: Do you really care about them? Do you really have an authentic relationship with Jesus? Do you really practice what you preach?

Authenticity is the one of the most important things you can have as a speaker. It doesn’t matter how polished your sermon is,…

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It’s more important than ever before to work on gaining and keeping the attention of your listeners while you preach. Capturing and maintaining attention is one of the most difficult things a communicator must do. But I don’t think this difficulty has much to do with attention span. Some will say that it’s just because people have shorter attention spans than a generation ago. While attention spans may be shorter, this doesn’t tell the whole story. I do believe shorter sermons are almost always better, but what makes them better has more to do with how it makes the preacher deliver a better sermon when he has less time to waste with filler, rambling, and incoherence.

The reason we have to work harder to gain and keep attention has to do with what competes for the attention of our people every time we preach. Our listeners are so distracted, and we need to know what we’re up against. Some of these distractions are new, and some are as timeless as humanity, but they are all present every time you stand up to preach. Here are four things competing for your people’s attention during…

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Church Building

This week, walk around your church campus and try to see it through the eyes of a first-time guest.

We become so familiar with our surroundings that we become oblivious to the faded paint, the frayed carpet, the chipped pulpit, the stack of stuff on the piano, or the burned-out light bulbs overhead.

One way to combat this tendency is to do an Environmental Impact Report on your church. Take pictures throughout your facilities and show them to your leaders in order to figure out what needs to be changed.

Here are some environmental factors to pay close attention to:

1. Lighting: Lighting has a profound effect on people’s moods. Inadequate lighting dampens the spirit of a service. Shadows across a speaker’s face reduce the impact of any message.

Most churches are far too dark. I’ve noticed that even churches with plenty of windows often cover them up. Somehow, churches have gotten the idea, maybe from funeral parlors, that dimming the lights creates a more “spiritual” mood. I completely disagree.

I believe that church buildings should be bright and full of light. God’s character is expressed in light. 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light; in him there is…

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pastor

Truth: Your pastor is weak. He’s flesh. He’s human, frail, and doesn’t always have it all together. He may be faithful to God and thereby filled with the Holy Spirit, but there’s always a secret side to him. He will probably never mention it in a sermon or a deacons meeting. Chances are, he won’t even tell his wife, but he endures battles.

I’ve been a pastor since I was 19 years old, and I’ve fought these battles for all that time. I want to advocate for your pastor today to tell you a few things you probably weren’t aware of.

Your Pastor Battles Loneliness

Pastors are surrounded by people who love them, but who often don’t know them intimately. They are celebrated on Sunday, but wonder on a slow Friday morning if they’ll ever enjoy a deep friendship with anyone. Call him and encourage him.

Your Pastor Battles Feelings of Inadequacy

Most pastors today are expected to be great preachers, teachers, counselors, hospital chaplains, advisors, financial managers, publicists, apologists, scholars, organizers, recruiters, and sometimes maintenance men. That’s a lot of pressure. Most pastors are hardwired to do one or two of those things well, so it’s a virtual…

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Why do people go to church?

A recent Gallup study found that 76 percent of people who attend church at least once a month say that sermons that teach them more about Scripture are the primary reason they go.

Plus, 75 percent also listed sermons that help them connect their beliefs to their lives as a major factor for attending.

The study confirms what I have been saying for years: Preaching is the number one reason people go to your church. And it’s not just any kind of preaching, but biblical teaching that’s relevant to their lives.

It’s not the music (38 percent), community (49 percent), service opportunities (59 percent), or kids and youth ministry (64 percent).

All of these are still important. But the primary reason people listed for going to church was good preaching.

Some will be quick to argue that people should go to church for more than preaching. “It’s about Christian community! It’s about loving the bride of Christ!”

True. Church is about more than preaching. But it doesn’t change the fact that three-quarters of people come to church because of the preaching.

There’s no substitute for a good sermon.

Preaching Is a Pastor’s Primary Responsibility

This Gallup study…

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Train Station Schedule Board

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30 NIV).

Timing was important to Jesus; everything in its time at just the right time. On his mission to bring you and me from death to life (Romans 6:13), he never rushed or struggled to play catch up.

He clearly worked from a different clock than everyone else. Instead of Eastern Standard Time, Jesus seemed to be on Eternal Standard Time. He never arrived late and he never arrived early; he simply arrived according to his purpose.

Jesus was born at exactly the right time to be in Bethlehem with his parents, right as the stars aligned to announce the birth of Israel’s long-awaited king. When he was older, he stayed to study Scripture in the temple, even though his parents had left for home.

When others thought he was late, Jesus arrived just in time to raise Lazarus from the dead. When his brothers wanted him to go with them to the Festival of Shelters, Jesus told them, “Go on to the festival. My time hasn’t yet come,…

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Empty Tomb

Easter services are among the highest-attendance events of the year for most churches.

It’s the big event — the church’s equivalent to the NCAA Basketball National Championship Game.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people will trust their time to your church.

We often celebrate the number of people who come, but that’s not the real indicator of success. The real question is, will your guests come back?

This may be your only chance to make a good impression.

The stakes are high. So here are five tips that will help you preach an Easter sermon that brings guests back for more.

1. Serve an appetizer, not a buffet.

Think of your Easter sermon more like a gourmet appetizer at a fine restaurant than the average food you get at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

The appetizer is small, but it’s filled with so much flavor that you want more.

Preaching too much information or for too long will leave a bad taste in the mouth of your guests. Don’t try to cram everything about Jesus down their throats. Instead, give them a sweet taste of Christ like they’ve never had before, so they want to come again for more.

I won’t try to…

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Persuasion

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11a NASB).

“And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks
(Acts 18:4 NASB).

And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8 NASB).

Agrippa replied to Paul, ‘In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian'” (Acts 26:28 NASB).

Persuasion gets a bad rap, especially when it comes to evangelism.

Sure, we all know those types who take it too far. We’ve all felt that holy cringe when we’ve seen pointed fingers and heard “repent” reverberating from a bullhorn on the street corner. But I think we can all agree that this style of “evangelism” is more coercion than it is persuasion.

The English word for “persuasion” smacks of the used car salesman stereotype of evangelism that asks “What can I do to get you to buy into Christianity today?” to a hurried, harried, and harassed customer. But the biblical Greek word for evangelism (“peitho“) is a whole different story.

Peitho means “to gently win someone over, to lovingly convince, to…

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Preaching to Unchurched

In terms of seeing radical life changes in individuals, nothing can take the place of Spirit-anointed preaching. The message is still the most important element of a worship service for the unchurched.

Saddleback’s growth — in spite of hot gymnasiums, cold tents, and crowded parking — has shown that people will put up with a lot of inconveniences and limitations if the messages are genuinely meeting their needs.

Here are a few tips I tend to share with pastors when they ask about preaching:

Provide an outline with the Scriptures written out.

I provide a printed outline of the message with all the Bible verses that will be used — and the verses are fully written out. There are a number of reasons that I do this:

  • Unchurched people may not own Bibles.
  • It relieves embarrassment in finding texts.
  • You can cover more material in less time. I once counted the number of times a well-known pastor said, “Now turn to this” in his message, and I timed how long he took. Seven minutes of his message was spent just turning pages!
  • You can have everyone read a verse aloud together because everyone has the same…

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Stained Glass

Easter is coming again soon. Are you ready?

Every year pastors have the duty to come up with yet another great Easter sermon. But after years of preaching the same message, you can start to feel like a broken record.

The Easter message should be the same every year. You should preach the Good News of the resurrection of Jesus.

But don’t just dust off the same old sermon every year. You can still be creative in the way you tell the story.

So here are 30 ideas straight from the Bible to help get you started.

30 EASTER SERMON IDEAS FROM THE BIBLE

  1. Preach the Easter story from the gospel of Matthew (Matthew 28).
  2. Preach the Easter story from the gospel of Mark (Mark 16).
  3. Preach the Easter story from the gospel of Luke (Luke 24).
  4. Preach the Easter story from the gospel of John (John 20).
  5. Preach about Peter’s denial of Jesus three times (Matthew 26:30-3569-75Mark 14:26-3166-72Luke 22:31-3454-62John 13:36-3818:15-1825-27) and his forgiveness through Christ (John 21:15-19).
  6. Preach from Judas’ perspective: his betrayal (Matthew 26:14-2547-56Mark 14:10-2143-50

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Memorial

Dr. Paul Powell was a major leader in the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Southern Baptist Convention. His leadership in the Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, as well as his writings, served as an influence in my early pastoral ministry. Sadly, on December 28, 2016, Dr. Powell passed away at 83 years of age in Tyler.

I only had the privilege to meet Dr. Powell a couple of times, but I will never forget reading in one of his books about conducting and preaching someone’s memorial service. Although exceptions occur, I have practiced these three principles to this day. I must admit that while I remember the three principles from many years ago, I do not remember exactly what Dr. Powell said about each one. I have, however, learned a lot about each of the principles over the years. It is amazing that I am still sharing with other pastors the things that I learned in these principles in my very early 20s. These three basic principles are from the overflow of pastor and leader Paul Powell.

1. Be Biblical

A sermon for any person’s memorial service needs to be based upon…

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Preaching PulpitEvery time we preach we have an opportunity to fulfill our God-given calling to impact lives with the truth of God’s Word and the hope of the Gospel. But the effectiveness of our preaching is impacted by a host of variables we cannot control, including distractions in the room. But there is something we can control, and that is how well we prepare.

I’ve written extensively on several aspects of sermon preparation including forming a preaching team, nailing down a weekly prep schedule, and seeking healthy feedback. But I find one of the most often neglected aspects of effective sermon preparation is rehearsing the sermon. By rehearsing I mean preaching the entire message by yourself (or to a handful of people) before you actually preach the sermon to your church.

The reluctance to rehearse is varied. Some preachers might think it’s awkward to preach to themselves. They’re totally right, by the way. It is awkward, but that does not mean you shouldn’t do it. Other preachers might avoid it because they don’t think it’s necessary. Still others may have just never thought of it. I…

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