Archives For Preaching

If God’s objective for every believer is to transform us into total Christlikeness, then the objective of preaching is to motivate people to develop Christlike convictions (to think like Jesus), Christlike character (to feel like Jesus), and Christlike conduct (to act like Jesus). Every other objective of preaching is secondary. At the end of the sermon, if people aren’t being transformed in how they think, feel, and act, I’ve missed the mark as a preacher.

To put it another way, the ultimate goal of preaching is not information. In fact, giving people a greater knowledge of the Bible can cause pride to develop in our hearers rather than humility if that information isn’t translated into obedience. And the goal if preaching is not merely instruction either. Preaching certainly includes instruction, but there is more to preaching that mere behavior modification. The goal of well-rounded preaching is transformation and obedience.

If we preach with life transformation as our goal, then the result will be believers who are more obedient to the Bible, and we call obedient believers disciples. Just look at the challenges Jesus gave as He taught people – He continually…

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Christmas at Saddleback

If the two times of the year that guests typically show up for a weekend church service are Easter and Christmas, then we have an evangelistic mandate to make the most of the opportunity to welcome them, show them grace and love, and initiate a relationship with them if at all possible. The problem is, the people who attend faithfully the other fifty Sundays of the year often forget about the priority of welcoming and greeting those who are attending for the first time.

One of the most valuable things church leaders can be doing right now is reminding their members about the fundamentals of receiving guests. And that starts with a basic understanding of the kind of guests you’re going to meet at your Christmas services.

  • There are those who come seeking – like the wise men
  • There are those who come surprised – like the shepherd
  • There are those who come distracted – like the innkeeper and his wife
  • There are those who come kicking and screaming – like Herod.

In other words, your crowd will include those who are present with family but don’t really believe, or at least they don’t believe that Jesus is for them….

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I realize that we pastors are going way beyond motivational speaking in our sermons. We are sharing the gospel and leading people to the cross. But we are still speakers and communicators nonetheless, and our effectiveness and influence depend on our understanding something about the nature of speaking.

Seth Godin, a marketing guru with much to teach the church, wrote about speaking and had this to say:

Speaking in public: two errors that lead to fear…

1. You believe that you are being actively judged

2. You believe that the subject of the talk is you

When you stand up to give a speech, there’s a temptation to believe that the audience is actually interested in you.

This just isn’t true. (Or if it is, it doesn’t benefit you to think that it is).

You are not being judged, the value of what you are bringing to the audience is being judged.

And he goes on to say:

The members of the audience are interested in themselves. The audience wants to know what they can use, what they can learn, or at the very least, how they can be entertained.

Source: Seth Godin

This…

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Plane RideHave you been invited to be a guest preacher?

I have had the opportunity to do a bit of guest preaching lately. I have also dealt with my fair share of good and bad guest preachers.

Here are some tips to help make you a better guest preacher – one they will actually want to invite back.

1. Honor the senior pastor

Most pastors do not get nearly enough appreciation for the extremely hard work they do for their church. They will never stand up on stage and toot their own horn. So, as the guest preacher, you should toot it for them.

Let the people know why you love their pastor. Create an opportunity for everyone to clap for him. Give the man some honor and recognition. (1 Timothy 5:17)

2. Respect the time limit

Ask how long you are scheduled to preach and stick with it! DO NOT go longer than the time you are given. You are a guest. Don’t over stay your welcome!

Not all churches have a clock visible from stage, so I personally use thePresentation Clock app on my iPhone. I set the time I have to preach, and it counts…

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Beautiful take-off. Wonderful flight. Crash-landing.

Unfortunately, that’s what I’ve witnessed toward the end of many preachers’ evangelistic sermons.

These well-meaning communicators of God’s Word often have great opening illustrations that capture the audience’s attention. Their takeoff is flawless and inviting.

Many times their beautiful takeoff is followed by a wonderful sermon. The preacher unpacks a Bible passage that clearly lays out the “flight plan” of salvation. Hearts sore to 35,000 feet as the passengers encounter the shockingly good news of God’s grace in God’s Word.

But, all too often, as these preacher-pilots start putting down their landing gear cracks begin to appear in the fuselage. Wires cross, lights flash and the smoke of works-based righteousness begins to slowly fill the cabin, choking the passengers with legalism.

This is followed by severe turbulence in the hearts of the passengers, not the kind that comes from genuine conviction but from a brand of “grace” that is loaded with conditions and qualifications.

As the preacher points the nose of his sermon toward the landing strip he uses phrases that focus on what the audience must do to be saved rather than on…

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I received an interesting note from Joe Hayes, head of the TV and video ministry at Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, South Carolina. At Redemption, the Sunday online worship service is succeeding way beyond expectations. Since so many churches have an online video feed of their live service on Sunday – and yet very few do it well – here’s 4 tips from Joe that might help:

1) Consider it just as important as your live event.   Don’t do an online, streaming feed and treat the viewers like second class citizens. Make sure it’s as high quality as you can afford, and make it available and easy to find.

2) Understand the online experience is different from the live service.   In the live service people are sitting with a large group. They can feel the excitement, see the preacher sweat, and it’s a visceral, physical experience. But with the online service, people are watching on a small screen, usually from across the room. They’re also probably distracted. So shoot more close-ups, and make sure the audience…

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I love visiting other churches. I love walking on a church campus for the first time pretending I know nothing about church. It helps me understand how people might feel when they come to visit my church for the first time.

I visited a new church this week that I have never been to. They have a nice building. Their volunteers were friendly. The music was good. But as I sat and listened to the pastor, for some reason I was having trouble connecting.

The content was good, but something in his delivery was off. That’s when I realized the problem. The pastor had lousy eye contact.

His eyes bounced left, right, then down at his notes. Left, right, notes. Left, right, notes.

Although the message was thought out, his eyes betrayed him. His nerves showed. And it made it hard to watch and listen.

Eye contact is critical for four major reasons.

4 Benefits of Eye Contact in Preaching:

1. Eye Contact Builds Trust

When people lie, what do their eyes do? They look away! That is why people will say, “Look me in the eyes and tell me the truth.”…

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Last Sunday, we wrapped up our teaching in the series Limitless Life, based on the book by Derwin Gray by the same title. The basic idea is that we are all limited by the labels we wear. Some of those labels were given to us by other people and others, we’ve applied to ourselves. But none of those limiting labels are God’s intention for us. He offers labels like “redeemed,” “child of God,” and “more than a conqueror.”

Labels CrossOne of the more painful moments for me as a Pastor was arriving home and getting a longer look at that cross. All those labels… all that shame… all that brokenness among the people who come in every Sunday smiling.

On the first Sunday of the series, we stood a wooden cross at the entryway of the auditorium and gave everyone blank labels. They wrote down the labels they’d been carrying and then stuck them on the cross on their way out. Then we spent the remainder of the series talking about the replacement labels God offers.

We watched, over the course of this series, as people joined small groups at a record pace for us,…

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Rick Warren PreachingHopefully, by October, you’re already thinking through your preaching calendar for next year. Part of shepherding a congregation toward long term health is offering a balanced diet from the pulpit. Your preaching over a twelve-month period should be pre-planned with certain factors built in.

Before a new year begins, I try to identify eight to twelve series’ that I’m going to do for the year. What I’m looking for most is balance. There is no way I’m going to be able to use all of the themes that I come up with, but I want to be balanced. And I want to look at several factors as I seek that balance.

First I want to be balanced in content.  That means I need to do a doctrinal series, a relational series, and an ethical series. I want to strike a balance between Old Testament and New Testament. And I want to preach to people at various stages of spiritual growth.

Second, I want to have balance in terms of style. I may do a character series such as a series on Moses, Joseph,  or Joshua from Hebrews 11. I may also do a…

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In their return to Saddleback Church after the death of their son, Pastor Rick and Kay share the very personal story of Matthew and his battle with mental illness. They explore the stages of loss that they are walking through with honesty and transparency, teaching us how to do the same in the tough and tragic times of our lives, reminding us that through it all, God is with us and loves us, and urging us to follow Paul’s teaching in 2 Corinthians 1:4-6 — to comfort others in their troubles as God comforts us.

More About This Series

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Are you losing people when you preach?

Do people check out during your sermons?

After listening to thousands of sermons and preaching quite a few myself, I have learned 8 different ways that pastors lose people in their sermons.

1. Sloppy Transitions

You just told a great story. It was funny and thought-provoking. But as soon as the story ended you suddenly switched direction and started talking about something else.

Wait… what? Slow down. How did we get from that funny thing your kid did to some old guy in the Old Testament?

Where is the connection?

You have to make clear connections between one part of your sermon and the next. Otherwise, people get lost in the transition.

It is as simple as saying, “that funny thing my kid did reminds me of a story in the old testament where a man named Samuel experienced something similar.”

Boom. Bridge built. Transition made. I see where you are going.

Typical transition points are after the introduction, before and after scripture, before and after illustrations, and before the conclusion.

Please don’t overlook how important a simple transition statement is in keeping everyone in the audience on track with you.

2. Too Many Points

I recently…

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Adrian Rogers outlined sermons using four phrases:

  • Hey You! (Get the audience’s attention)
  • Look! (Examine the Scriptures)
  • See! (Explain the passage)
  • Do! (Make application)

Andy Stanley is famous for one-point preaching, but really breaks his messages into five movements:

  • Me (How do I struggle with this?)
  • We (How do we all struggle with this?)
  • God (What does the Bible say about this?)
  • You (What should you do about this?)
  • We (How can we all live this out together?)

And I’m not sure who came up with it, but another well-known system is:

  • Hook (Get attention)
  • Book (Examine the Word)
  • Look (Expound the passage)
  • Took (Make an appeal)

The Puritans jumped right into point one of 27ish as they preached for several hours and there are plenty of other outlining methods as well. I’ve changed my system several times over the years, which I think is important to keep us out of a rut. Lately, I’ve been outlining my messages around three movements..

WHERE WE ARE

In the first part of the message, I speak about the problem or issue that the message addresses, hopefully in a way that motivates my hearers to identify with the problem personally as in, “Oh yeah, I struggle with that too!”

WHAT GOD SAYS

In the…

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