Archives For Preaching

Appeal In PreachingWhen we preach the Bible, we are leading people to encounter God and respond to Him personally. As we work our way through the specific text we are preaching, we are leading them to encounter the God who wrote this Bible.

My Personal Testimony

I believe when a preacher of God’s Word unpacks the Scripture, revealing the Lord Jesus and His greatness, he preaches for decision. As we work our way through the text, periodically sharing illustrations that relate to the meaning of the text, then making the needed applications from the text, we are moving people to decision.

I grew up watching Billy Graham crusades on television, as well as other men like Jerry Falwell and Adrian Rogers, who would always move people to respond to God. Therefore, not only because of their influence, but the influence of many others, including my home church, I have believed all these years that when we preach God’s Word, we are moving people to a moment of decision. I also believe the words recorded in God’s Word in 2 Corinthians 5:11, “Therefore, because we know the fear of the Lord, we seek to persuade men.” God’s…

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Nothing thrills a Pastor more than seeing real transformation happen in the lives of people. We want to see people grow up and become completely mature – completely like Jesus Christ. Another word for this is sanctification, and sanctification always begins as God’s Spirit uses God’s truth to change the mind, heart, and will of His follower.

Jesus prayed to the father in John 17:17, “Use the truth to make them complete. Your Word is truth.” Transformation is change, and change happens as we apply God’s truth to every area of our lives. The first responsibility of Pastors and shepherds is to preach God’s truth, which transforms the lives of our hearers into the image of Jesus Christ.

One of the primary marks of spiritual immaturity is when other people can easily sway us away from the truth. Not knowing the truth of God’s Word causes us to change our beliefs back and forth, repeatedly, which creates an unstable life. Paul said in Ephesians 4:14-15 that when we…

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RelevanceHere’s how to be guaranteed that listeners will eagerly anticipate your next series of messages, waiting to hear your words—and God’s—on the selected topic.

First, some background…

A few years ago the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps asked me to research the attitudes of incoming 18-, 19-, and 20-year old recruits toward religion and church.  I interviewed young men and women across mainstream America.  One of the questions I asked was, “What is your opinion of church?”  Two words came back over and over: boring and irrelevant.

“Relevance” is one of the hallmarks of an effective, contagious church. Attendees who find their church speaking clearly and creatively to life issues not only return, but bring friends. “Relevance” is found in the words and rhythm of songs…in the style and appearance of facilities…in children’s Sunday School and topics in the adult classes.  But perhaps more than any other area, relevance must be found in the sermon.

In his book, What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary, veteran pastor James Emery White talks about how to make preaching relevant: “The most important thing has to do with your sermon topics. They should address people’s life issues and questions about the faith… That means you try to bring as…

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MoneyAs a Pastor, I’m well aware of how many people have the assumption that “all Pastors want to talk about is money.” The funny thing is, after twenty years in ministry and communicating regularly with thousands of pastors, I can firmly assert that talking about money is one of our least favorite things to do, especially in our culture where personal finances are very… personal.

But the Apostle Paul wrote to a younger Pastor in Ephesus named Timothy once and told him to “Teach and urge these things… there is great gain in godliness with contentment… but those who desire to be rich fall into temptation… for the love of money is the root of all evil… As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches.” (1 Timothy 5:2-17 ESV)

In other words, good doctrine (which literally means “teaching”) demands that we address the issue of money. Here are several reasons why the church NEEDS to talk about finances…

  • Money is a gift from God to be managed for a season, not an earned commodity to be consumed…

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Rick Warren PreachingI believe that the best model to follow in the history of preaching is Jesus. It isn’t John the Baptist, Paul, or any contemporary speaker alive today. Jesus was THE Master Communicator. The Bible says in Matthew 7:28 that “the crowds were amazed at Jesus’ sermons.” Why? Because both the content and the delivery came straight from the Father. Jesus said in John 12:49, “The Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.”

When I’m preparing a message, I ask eight questions to help me prepare. The first two are about what to say and the final six are about how to say it.

1. To whom will I be preaching?

Jesus always started with His audience. He even knew their thoughts. So the first question in my mind is about the audience to which I will be speaking, and I try to picture them in my mind. And there are always three ways to get people’s attention with a message.

  • Speak about things people value.
  • Speak about things that are unusual.
  • Speak about things that threaten us.

All three break through the listening barriers that people naturally have. The goal of preaching may be…

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Giving Blood Len SweetOver the past thirty years, shifts in technology have displaced the Enlightenment culture of the book with a new visual and aural culture that is profoundly changing our homes, workplaces, and churches. The church must learn to speak to people who hear and learn in ways that are different from how the church has communicated in the past.

In this groundbreaking resource, bestselling author Leonard Sweet introduces readers to what he terms a “transductive” epistemology, a new model for understanding and communicating truth that will profoundly affect the way the church communicates to a new generation. Sweet argues that “knowing” is no longer simply a linear movement from propositions (deduction) or toward propositions (induction). These classical models have lost their efficacy.

Instead, Sweet offers an alternative to traditional approaches, showing us how to communicate the Bible as God’s storybook, divine handiwork – and not just a rulebook of “do’s” and “don’ts” or a handbook for living. He challenges long-held assumptions about communicating the Bible, offering a fresh paradigm for preaching and teaching in the twenty-first century church.

Purchase the Book

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Easter at Saddleback

As I write this, millions of Christians and church leaders are getting ready for Easter weekend, and it’s a huge opportunity for the church to spring into action to invite and welcome lost people to hear the gospel. And so as we Pastors prepare to preach about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we desperately need the power of God – the same power that raised Jesus from the dead – to be at work in and through us.

The resurrection of Jesus was the greatest demonstration of the power of God in all of history. Let me explain why.

After Jesus died they put His body in a tomb. But the tombs were different in those days than they are today. Today we put somebody in a coffin and put them in the ground and we cover them up with dirt. In those days they buried people in caves. They often would use it for many, many bodies. It was not just one burial; lots of people would be buried in the cave. So they’d find a cave and they’d build a trench in front of it and they’d…

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Composing Music

Did you know that for musical arrangements, composers write more than just the notes to be played? They also write the strength with which each note should be performed.

These markings are referred to as the “dynamics” of music.

A composer might write a pp, meaning pianissimo or “very soft,” or a ff,meaning fortissimo or “very loud.” There are multiple marks all meant to tell the musician roughly how strong or soft a note is meant to be played.

These dynamic markings make all the difference in a song. The best songs do not stay at the same level.

The dynamics of all great songs rise and fall from the forcefulness of a shout to the gentleness of a whisper.

I believe that preaching is very similar.

Great preaching doesn’t stay on one level. Great preaching is vocally dynamic.

3 Levels of Dynamic Preaching

I believe that every preacher should have three levels of vocal dynamics.

  1. Normal
  2. Quiet
  3. Loud

This isn’t complicated, but it takes a lifetime to master.

Every preacher should work to get comfortable using each of these levels of vocal dynamics. Think of them as tools in your back pocket to pull out as needed for emphasis.

Normal is your base level. This is…

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Big EasterEaster is one of the two biggest weekends for most churches in terms of attendance. I see this as a great opportunity for evangelism to begin and for a relationship to start between your church and all of the visitors who come that Sunday. You should do everything you can to leverage Easter weekend for growth.

At the same time, it’s important not to ‘put all your eggs in the Easter basket.’ What I mean is, Easter is a great starting point for evangelism, but it’s not the finish line, at least not for a purpose driven church. In our culture, it usually takes multiple exposures to the gospel for someone to make a decision to follow Jesus. Let me explain.

Give People More Than One WEEK

Many churches offer a come-forward invitation, which by the way, I used to do myself, Billy Graham, style when I would preach evangelistic crusades. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with altar calls. But often the emphasis is on making a decision in the moment and often there is a…

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Easter He Is Risen

Easter Sunday is like the Superbowl of preaching.

This may be your largest attended service of the year. Statistically, people are more open to visiting a church on Easter (and Christmas) than any other time of year.

Because of this, your Easter sermon is infinitely important.

The eternal destination of many people in attendance is hanging in the balance. For many of them, this is the only chance you will get this year to reach them. For some, it will be your last chance ever.

The weight of responsibility on a pastor to preach on Easter Sunday should not be underestimated.

As you put in the study, hard work, and spiritual preparation to preach this Easter, here are 20 questions to ask yourself.

20 Questions to Ask Before Preaching This Easter

  1. Have I prayed about my sermon, given it over to God, and asked for the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit?
  2. Have I faithfully interpreted the Bible without addition or subtraction?
  3. Does this sermon make a clear presentation of the Gospel message?
  4. Have I used any Christian terminology that may be confusing or need explanation for visitors?
  5. Is this…

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Crying Baby

What is the most distracting thing that has ever happened to you while preaching?

For me it was when I was a youth pastor at a church in New Mexico. I was preaching to a group of high school students.

In the middle of my message, a boy stood up, jump onto his chair and began to do what looked like an Irish jig. And before I could say anything, the chair flipped over, dropping the boy flat on his back. Everyone burst into laughter.

Fortunately, except for his ego, the boy was not hurt. But he definitely hurt my sermon. All eyes were on him. All eyes were off Jesus. Some students were literally rolling on the floor they were laughing so hard.

How do you recover from something like that?

Another time when I was preaching a silent fire alarm was falsely triggered somehow. So as I was wrapping up my message, four firemen in full uniform come walking down the aisle, up the side of the stage, and disappear into an electrical room behind me.

What do you do in that situation?

Nobody prepares you for falling dancers and firefighter appearances in seminary!

If you…

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Westminster Chapel

I’d freshly fallen off the turnip truck in Britain.

I was a young up and coming missionary preacher from America, prepared to swashbuckle my way through the riggings of expository preaching to the British masses and earn my place as a pulpiteer. I’d been recently inducted as the Evangelist of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s first church, legendary Bethlehem “Sandfields”, Aberavon, Port Talbot, Wales.

Prior to my arrival, I’d thought I was smart, but after arriving in Britain I knew that I’d have to step it up a notch.  After all, this was the country that had produced Spurgeon, the “second Shakespeare”.  Oratory was their strength, as well as writing via C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, etc.

I thought I was smart…but then I began to meet truly intelligent people.

I suddenly realized that I was out of my depth.  I thought I’d been swimming in the deep end of the pool, but now I realized it had only been the feeling a toddler gets when dropping off the steps in the shallow end.  I was in an Olympic size pool now and I had no “floaties”.

The first time this dawned on me was when I’d been invited to…

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