Archives For Preaching

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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Winners

If you’re a pastor, you’re a motivator. In fact, motivational preaching is one of the most powerful and persuasive tools for change our culture knows.

W. A. Criswell, one of my own preaching heroes, defined preaching as “seeking to move a man’s will God-ward.” He went on to define teaching as “instructing that man in the will and ways of the Lord.”

I agree with the late Dr. Criswell that both are the tasks of the local church pastor, but it was his words about the motivational nature of preaching particularly captured my heart.

The very idea of motivational preaching may have negative undertones with many people because we assume that the Gospel is at odds with a message of personal motivation. Or at least we feel that the doctrine of depravity is incompatible with a doctrine of personal achievement. But when we begin with a proper perspective of self — that we are completely and totally dependent on the redemptive power of God — then the Gospel becomes the most motivational message of all.

We win. We are winning, even when it seems that we’re losing. So we are winners, now and forever because of the grace of God…

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Do you remember what it was like to go to church for the first time?

A lot of pastors have been in church for so long that we can’t remember. Maybe you grew up going to church with your family like I did. If so, you can’t remember because you were too young.

If you came to faith in Jesus later in life, you might have an advantage in this area. You know how awkward it was.

Maybe you didn’t know anyone. Maybe you only knew one friend who invited you there. Maybe you were nervous. Maybe you were afraid it would be a cult. You were probably more than a bit skeptical.

Pastors cannot afford to lose touch with what it is like to be an unbeliever in church if we want to continue to reach people with the Good News of Jesus Christ. So, if your church is trying to reach your community, as it should, then you must assume that there skeptics in the room.

Maybe they were invited by a friend, family member, or co-worker. Maybe they found your church online. Maybe they had a horrible week and wandered in looking for something,…

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Microphone

Have you ever watched a really good TED talk?

Like this one, this one, this one, or this one.

TED talks are some of the best presentations on the planet. The single idea of a great TED talk often becomes viral.

As pastors, I believe we communicate the most important “idea” ever. If we want to reach our culture, we can learn from these popular public speaking videos.

What makes these presentations engaging to our culture?

What can we apply to our preaching without compromising our message?

I have studied the TED talk guidelines for speakers, and here are some of the rules that preachers could learn from.

1. Speak in 18 minutes or less

Why is this important? Because most people in your audience are good at focusing on an idea for a small piece of time.

Sometimes less is more.

There is nobody in church on Sunday who thinks, “Oh boy, I hope the pastor preaches 15 minutes over his allotted time again today!”

Nobody ever said, “Bummer, church let out early today.”

Now, I understand that TED talks are different from sermons; 18 minutes is probably too short if you are unpacking a larger section of Scripture.

However, few preachers…

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preaching lessons from Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon is arguably one of the greatest preachers in the history of Christianity.

  • He preached over 600 sermons before the age of 20.
  • The collection of his recorded sermons fills 63 volumes and over 20 million words, making it the largest collection of books by a single Christian author.
  • He once spoke to an audience of 23,654 without the use of a microphone or sound system.
  • He frequently preached ten times per week because he accepted so many invitations to speak.1

Spurgeon was so gifted and influential that it’s no wonder he earned the nickname of the “Prince of Preachers.”

It’s safe to say that we could all learn much about preaching from such a prolific preacher.

So here are 12 preaching tips that Charles Spurgeon taught his students:

1. PRAYER IS SERMON PREP

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Preparing Sermons with a Team

Preachers do weird things. One weird thing we do is prepare our sermons alone. Every week you have to get up in front of a group of people and say words. Those words have to be engaging, powerful, motivating, encouraging, accurate, practical, and spiritual all at the same time.

Every. Single. Week.

And you prepare alone. All by yourself. I think this started with Moses. He went up on a mountain and heard from God. He came down and told the people, “This is what God said.” We’ve never really changed the model. Preachers have been preparing sermons alone ever since.

I used to prepare my sermons alone. I would read commentaries, watch sermons, and research articles, but it was mostly just me, by myself.

If you’re like most preachers, you prepare alone. The problem is, you are not Moses. You are not an Old Testament prophet. There is nothing requiring you to use this method. I’m not saying God can’t speak to you in your study. You should hear from God as you prepare. If you’ve been preaching for any length of time, you know how exhilarating it is to spend time in…

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AdventAlways.

’Tis the season of Advent  –  the celebration of the coming, the appearing of Jesus Christ. Advent consists of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, and Christmas Day. Traditionally, the Christian church has used the first two Sundays of Advent to anticipate the second coming of Christ and the last two Sundays to celebrate his first coming, as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem.

Different church traditions approach Advent in different ways, but I favor the approach of focusing on the four key messages of the Christmas story: hope, peace, joy, and love.

This year, we’re doing an Advent message series based on these themes…

The Christmas season seems to do two things in relationship to hope. It highlights and accentuates the hopefulness we can have when we follow Jesus, who came once and who is coming again. But this time of year also exposes the hopelessness that so many feel because of loneliness and losses.

It’s a tough time of year for a lot of people financially, with winter coming on and the days getting shorter. There’s less sunlight and therefore a little less energy and a little more sadness…

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WinterDecember is crazy. It’s chaos for most American families. We’re rushing from one party to the next, getting the shopping done, and wrapping up the year at work and at home, hopefully before we have all the kids in the house full-time for their two weeks off.

December also tends to highlight our consumeristic tendencies. We go from celebrating thankfulness and contentment on Thanksgiving to the mad dash for cheap stuff on Black Friday. Just take a glance at the condition of the Nike Outlet Store in Seattle after Black Friday shoppers went a bit mad…

If you don’t think consumerism is that much of a problem for us, consider some highlights of this story from Becoming Minimalist‘s website: 21 Surprising Statistics That Reveal How Much Stuff We Actually Own:

There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times).

The average American throws away 65 pounds of clothing per year (Huffington Post).

Americans donate 1.9 percent of their income to charitable causes (NCCS/

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