Archives For Preaching

Preaching On the Street

God has a purpose for everything. The Bible says in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Pr. 19:21 (NIV) God has a specific purpose for preaching, and His purpose is far more important than your purpose or my purpose for preaching.

One of the greatest problems in our churches is purposeless preaching. So many sermons are made up of many words in search of a purpose. Each weekend, 55 million people listen to 1 billion words in sermons given in America alone. Yet research shows that the biggest complaint people have is that sermons are boring and don’t relate to their lives. 

If the purpose of preaching isn’t clear to the preacher, it won’t be to the listeners! My friend Charles Swindoll says, “If there’s a mist in the pulpit, there’s a fog in the pew!” Without a clear purpose, preaching is a misuse of the Bible, a waste of time to the people, and a frustration to the preacher.

Every preacher ought to have a solid theology of preaching so that we understand why we’re doing what we’re doing every weekend….

Continue Reading

NOTE: We’ve added a third week!

Preaching Ranch

Be part of an exclusive cohort of Pastors and take your preaching to an all-new level by choosing one of two weeks in September and joining us at Saddleback’s Rancho Capistrano for a three-day in-depth workshop on preaching for life change. Nothing is more powerful for changing lives, casting a vision, and shaping the future direction of a church than preaching.

Is your preaching changing the hearts and lives of your people? Do you desire to become a better communicator to reach the lost in your community? Each weekend, 55 million people listen to 1 billion words in sermons given across America. Yet research shows that the #1 complaint people have is that sermons are boring and don’t relate to their lives. The simple fact is that preaching makes or breaks a church.

This three day conference will help you develop creative approaches, strategies, and techniques to communicate the only message that can truly change a person’s life. It’s practical information that is transferable, regardless of church size, denomination or cultural-context.

We want to host you:

  • A guest room on our Ranch property in beautiful Southern Orange County, CA Check in:…

    Continue Reading

Break LightI have a friend who is really into rebuilding old cars. It is an art form to take a rusted out car from the scrap heap or auction lot and restore it to better than new condition.

He once told me that when you rebuild a car, you don’t just add the parts that are missing. That wouldn’t work. Why? Because many of the existing parts are beyond repair. Rust, corrosion, and years of damage have left them unusable.

The car must be broken down piece by piece, cleaned, restored, and reassembled with new parts for a proper restoration.

I think that is a lot like preaching.

Preaching could be described as the act of breaking down existing world views, and then rebuilding them Biblically.

You break it, then build it.

Do you ever do this when preaching?

For example, I were preaching about marriage, I would start by breaking down how most people view marriage.

I would talk about how the idea of marriage is eroding in our culture. I would talk about the rise in unhappy marriages and divorce, because our way isn’t working. I might tell a funny story or two about how my flawed…

Continue Reading

As a “professional communicator) I get the privilege of doing a lot of speaking to a ton of different groups. God has blessed me to speak in front of big groups (just got done preaching two hours ago to 5,000 teenagers at #IYC2014 in Nashville), small groups (I do a weekly staff chapel service for our staff of 23 strong at Dare 2 Share) and medium sized groups (anything in between 23 and 5,000  )

After I prepare a sermon there are 5 pre-sermon rituals I go through before it’s “go time.” Here are the five rituals I do before I preach:

1. Review relentlessly.

Before I preach my sermon I go over the sermon outline again and again. My goal is to be know the material so well that nobody notices me looking down at my notes. If I know it that well then, if my notes spontaneously combusted, I would still have a message from God I could deliver.

2. Adjust quickly.

There is nothing like a pending audience to give you adrenalin to second guess lame illustrations and weak points. I always carry a pen…

Continue Reading

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…

Continue Reading

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…

Continue Reading

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…

Continue Reading

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…

    Continue Reading

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…

Continue Reading

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

Continue Reading

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…

Continue Reading

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…

Continue Reading