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.

Photo Credit: Robby McKee cc

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…

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1. Thou shall turn off notifications.

The only thing worse than a cell phone ringing in the middle of a prayer is the preacher’s iPad ringing in the middle of a prayer.

Make sure to turn on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ switch in ‘Settings’. I also turn on ‘Airplane Mode’ just to make sure I don’t have anything popping up from Wi-Fi.

At one location I preached there was a very weak Wi-Fi signal that I didn’t have the password to. A Wi-Fi connection message kept popping up while I was preaching.

You don’t want any distractions from the message God has given you.

2. Thou shall turn off auto-lock.

I have forgotten to do this a few times. Five minutes into the message my iPad blacked out. It totally threw me off.

I had to pause what I was saying, open the iPad, and swipe to unlock before resuming the message. This is even worse if your iPad is password protected.

Always make sure to open up ‘Setting’, tap ‘General’ and set ‘Auto-Lock’ to ‘Never’.

3. Thou shall lower the brightness.

If the stage is dark and the brightness is too high your iPad will…

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Francis Chan at SaddlebackThe recent Saddleback sermon series Follow Me has featured some of the best teaching pastors in the US. So far we have heard from Greg Laurie, Francis Chan, Wilfredo De Jesus, Russell Moore, Jud Wilhite, Perry Noble, Judah Smith, and Doug Fields. Our aim is to serve our community of pastors and church leaders. Choose any one part of the Follow Me sermon series as a free download by using the coupon code FOLLOW13 at checkout. Click here. (excludes DVDs).

Download Your Free Sermon

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BullseyeThe Bible is clear that Christians must be “doers of the Word and not hearers only,” (James 1:22) so it’s clear that our responsibility as Pastors and preachers of the Word is to challenge people to do something in response to what we’ve said. In other words, the goal of preaching is life change.

How can you add more application into our message to make God’s Word more doable? Always aim for a specific response.

The greatest weakness of most preaching is that the sermon has a fuzzy focus. So many sermons are vague & abstract because the pastor isn’t really clear about why he is teaching this particular message, nor does he give the audience a specific direction to go in response.

It’s easy to be abstract, but it takes effort to be specific, but nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific! A well-prepared sermon should be more like a bullet than buckshot. Know your purpose and aim right for it!

The most important question you can be asking as you are in the process of studying and preparing your sermon is what specific response am I going to ask for?

Since you are preaching for action, for a verdict, and for…

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TractorI just had a fascinating conversation with my brother-in-law, Andy, about discipleship.

Andy farms and knows all about tractors (especially a certain green brand).

We were talking about how people respond better to teaching when someone has taken the time to work with them personally in their spiritual life. In the middle of the conversation, Andy said, “its just like preparing the soil.”

(Disclaimer –I know nothing about farming. So if I get this wrong, please remember, it’s the thought that counts!)

Andy explained that, in farming, there are several methods of soil preparation: No-till preparation, Minimal-till preparation, and Sub-soil-till preparation.

No-till preparation is just what it sounds like. You plant without tilling. It saves time and money (at least at first) because you don’t have to run your equipment (and fuel) over the land before planting.

Minimal-till preparation could be anything from “scratching the surface” of the ground to going 6-8 inches deep. This loosens the soil up and makes it easier to plant.

Sub-soil-till preparation goes even deeper. Andy shared that many times, ground that is only tilled 6-8 inches can still be hard underneath. This keep roots from being able to penetrate deep and blocks nutrients from being…

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FireworksSummertime presents challenges for every church. People are very busy and mobile in the summer time and, sadly, some families will disengage from their local church from Memorial Day Sunday until the beginning of school or even waiting until after Labor Day. All of these matters combine to become one enormous challenge for the leaders of a church.

As a pastor of a local church, this becomes a personal, spiritual challenge for me. People need refreshment. People need a vacation, as do I. Yet, the ministry of the church marches forward.

I believe there are three big questions in the mind of most pastors this summer. While I cannot guarantee you any solutions, I can, humbly, offer a few suggestions.

Question 1: How Can We Keep People Connected?

While you cannot control your church’s summer attendance, you may be able to influence it. Work with your team to discover ways to keep people connected. Consider the below suggestions:

*First, acknowledge that many of your people will take a couple of weeks away this summer. Impress upon them that when they are in town this summer they need to engage on the Lord’s Day with the church.

*Remind your people that…

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Rev. Thomas Chalmers, 1780 - 1847. Preacher and social reformer (shown preaching)Jesus was definitely an iconoclast, continually challenging the conventional thinking of His day. Twenty different times Jesus said, “You’ve heard it said… but I say to you…” And even today, his thoughts on leadership go against the grain.

Most modern books on leadership, whether Christian or secular, give the same advice – be confident, never admit fear, maintain control and be composed, be convincing and never show weakness. But Jesus had a different style altogether. Instead of leading from a position of strength (lording authority over people), Jesus led from a position of weakness, becoming a servant.

The fact is, everybody has weaknesses. And our weaknesses are multi-faceted. We have physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual weaknesses. The question is, what do you do with your weaknesses? While most people deny, defend, or excuse their weaknesses, Christian leaders can embrace them and ask God to use them! When God works through weak people, His power is shown more clearly!

Let me define what I’m talking about when I use the word weakness. I’m not talking about a character flaw that can and should be changed. A weakness is any limitation…

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At the Movies 2012Summer tends to be a time when churches slow down and brace for the “summer slump.” But some churches press forward and capitalize on the “down time” by doing things out of the ordinary and experiencing growth on multiple levels. One of the more popular ideas in recent years is preaching a series of messages based on the themes of current films at the box office.

If you’re preaching a series in this strain, please take a moment to comment below and tell us…

  • What’s your approach?
  • What movies will you address?
  • How do you make sure the message is biblically-based?

Feel free to include links to your series on your church webpage or your blog. We’ll put together a follow-up article including the best ideas!

Also, here’s a free resource from Open from their At the Movies 2012.

Now… go!

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PreachingFor ten years of my life I was a preaching pastor at a church I helped plant with my good buddy Rick Long (Grace Church of Arvada.) This weekend I’ve been preaching all three services at my old stomping grounds and it’s got me reminiscing. With this in mind here are 10 things I miss about being a pastor:

1. Working the foyer before and after the services (I worked that foyer like a politician running for office!)

2. The thrill and nervousness of having to come up with fresh sermons every week.

3. Awkward side hugs (actually I don’t miss those!)

4. Delegating the tough counseling situations to the elder who was giving me the hardest time

5. My mom yelling answers to my rhetorical questions right in the middle of my sermons.

6. Seeing people put their faith in Jesus every week during the services.

7. Working on staff with life-long friends.

8. The people: watching them go from new convert to disciple to disciple multiplier over the course of time.

9. Being a pastor that FULLY supports the youth ministry.

10. Sunday afternoon naps (it was my ritual after preaching 3 services!)

Would I ever go back to being…

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BurningEarlier this week a godly Christian friend of mine remarked, “Is it just me or is the world starting to spin out of control? It seems like all we’re doing is going from one major crisis to the next to the next. How are we supposed to catch our breath anymore?”

How should we respond in the midst of crises? The short answer, no surprise, is: By praying. More than any other writings, the ancient Hebrew and Christian hymn book, the Psalms, show us how.

Beginning with Psalm 3, and over and over again until Psalm 149, we find the psalmist actively and fervently praying to the Lord in various dire circumstances.

How many are my foes!…
Give me relief from my distress….
Listen to my cry for help…
Away from me, all you who do evil…
Save and deliver me from all who pursue me…

In seven out of every ten psalms, the writer is either crying out to the Lord for physical salvation, thanking God for sparing his life, reminding himself of the differing fates of the righteous and evildoers, or renewing his allegiance to God and His Word in the face of rampant wickedness.

If the psalms…

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Apple Smoking In The DarknessPreaching presents a myriad of temptations. We pastors are often unaware of the truth of our heart as we approach the pulpit on Sunday morning. We are solely focused on our exegesis or our homiletical approach. However, as we arrive at the pulpit God is calling us to discern the temptations of our heart. In the first post of this series we explored the temptation of originality. Now, we will explore the second temptation.

Temptations #2: Mastery

The pursuit of excellence in one’s vocation is admirable. Preaching the gospel is indeed a great responsibility that must be taken seriously. We want to do what we do well. We want to master our craft. However, the drive toward “mastery” must never lack equal attentiveness to the heart. As pastors it is imperative that we pay heed to the deep beliefs that are often driving our desire for mastery. My fear is that many pastors spend more time honing their preaching skill-set via workshops, classes, books, etc. than they do prayerfully considering the posture of their heart. As we spend the week of preparation finding the perfect story, practicing the sermon…

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Apple Smoking In The DarknessThere are many facets to the vocational life of a pastor. However, for evangelical pastors today there is one element of our calling that is deemed most important and induces the greatest anxiety: Preaching. How should we preach? What should we preach?  Questions of technique, method and content abound. Undoubtedly, this flurry of interest in the discipline of preaching has had a positive impact on the “quality” of preaching in the church today. However, amidst this emphasis on the pastoral discipline of preaching I wonder if a focus on the pragmatic has left other questions unattended.  Specifically, what temptations does the pastor face in preaching?

In a series of posts I wish to ponder with you some potential temptations in preaching. I do not share this list of temptations as a distant observer, but as one who has faced these temptations in preaching himself. While I am isolating these temptations in this series they most certainly are woven together; often bound by a deep belief that one’s identity is found in his work (preaching). This list is not intended to be exhaustive or…

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