Archives For Preaching

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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John 3-16By Mark Coppenger

Like the fellow who thought he’d be crossing visible longitude lines on his ocean voyage to Europe, some may think that the chapter and verse divisions were on the sheet when apostles such as John (or psalmists such as David) wrote down Scripture.

But no, they wrote letters and poetry and Gospels and other history without numbering. Those markers were added centuries later. Indeed, when Jesus referred to Exodus 3:6 in Mark 12:26, He simply located it in “in the passage about the burning bush.” Neither the “12:26” nor the “3:6” were yet in place.

To make a long story short, biblical scholars were making divisions of one sort or another in the centuries following the books’ original composition, but it wasn’t until the early 1200s that we got our current chapter setup, thanks to Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton. As for the verses, Jewish scribes had already done work on the Old Testament around the year 900, and their work was wedded to Langton’s. But the church had to wait another 300 years for its New Testament breakdown, performed by a French-born printer, Robert Estienne or…

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History Makers: Living By Faith is a new series based on the epic 10-part miniseries, The Bible, created by the History Channel, Mark Burnett, producer of TV’s Survivor, and Roma Downey. See history brought to life as you relive the dramatic stories of the Scriptures. Learn how to leave an extraordinary legacy despite ordinary circumstances.

Learn More About This Series

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The challenge of preaching is to declare eternal truth — what doesn’t change — in a culture that’s always changing.

The message never changes. It’s the “faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints”. (Jude v.3 NIV)

But the methods have to change with every generation. Otherwise, you’re not being faithful to the intent of the Bible.

Martin Luther said this: “If you preach the gospel in all aspects with the exception of the issues which deal specifically with your time, you are not preaching the gospel at all.”

One way to build a bridge between God’s Word and the issues of our day is to tie a sermon series into some cultural event, something that has already caught the attention of many people.

For instance, when we enter the current economic crisis, I preached a series on God’s principles for money management. It taught people that the Bible offers wise and practical advice on how to handle your finances.

Another example is when Mel Gibson released his movie, “The Passion of Christ”, we preached a series, “How Love Speaks: 7 Words From the Cross”.

A great opportunity next month will be to preach along with The Bible miniseries. Every Sunday night…

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By Buddy Owens

Worship EnvironmentsI remember only two things about my college biology class: the broken clock that hung on the wall behind my professor’s desk and this definition of culture: “A colony of microorganisms or cells grown in a specially prepared nourishing environment.” Sounds like the church, doesn’t it? Each congregation is a colony — an outpost of the Kingdom (to mix metaphors) — that is grown in a specially prepared, nourishing environment.

Here’s another definition of culture. This one is from my sociology class, which, by the way, also had a broken clock hanging behind the professor’s desk: “The values, beliefs, ideas, customs, skills, arts, and traditions of a people that are passed along to succeeding generations.” That sounds like the church, too.

The church is a culture, in the sense that it is a living organism, and the church has a culture that is a reflection of its values and beliefs.

With those definitions in mind, let’s think about this: How can we as pastors and leaders create a culture of worship in our churches? How can we prepare a “nourishing environment”? How can we transfer our values, customs,…

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High Pressure PreachingPreaching to people who aren’t accustomed to church isn’t like preaching to a well-churched community. Too many preachers say they want to reach people who are far from God, but they don’t adjust their preaching style to impact the spiritually lost.

One change in your preaching style to consider is how you ask for a commitment. I believe it’s essential that every gospel preacher ask his listeners to make a commitment. Jesus did it. Paul did it. Faithful preachers throughout the ages have done it.

But an effective invitation to make a commitment to Christ isn’t a high-pressure pitch. I’ve found that pressure is actually counter-productive. It becomes a battle of the wills. It often simply hardens the heart of the listener. That’s the last thing you want!

If the fruit is ripe, you don’t have to yank it. People who listen to God’s Word on a regular basis will commit to Him and His ways. It’s just a matter of time until the Holy Spirit draws the person to the Lord. Evangelism is usually a process of repeated exposures to the Good News.

In fact, we tell people at Saddleback to take…

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blue flame bibleI rarely preach one-and-done sermons—very rarely. Come to any service at Saddleback and you’ll catch us either at the beginning, middle or end of a series. Why do I do this?

  • It builds momentum. Momentum matters in ministry. It’s what keeps your church going in the same positive direction. It isn’t easy moving people in a direction they often don’t want to go. In a series each message builds on each other. Your congregation begins to anticipate the next sermon.
  • It creates word-of-mouth advertising. Preaching in a series can be the best advertising you have. Preach on a topic that touches the lives of your congregation, they’ll tell their friends.
  • It saves study time. Every time I preach I study more than I can possibly use. Most of us are like that. Often each sermon could be a series. Plus, it takes less time to study for four sermons on a similar topic than sermons on four different topics.

I always announce a new series on days we expect a lot of visitors, like Easter. It creates a hook that brings many first time visitors back for part two the…

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