Archives For Preaching

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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Rest of Your Life

On Sunday, January 6th, Pastor Rick delivered a sermon to prepare the Saddleback church community for the upcoming campaign What On Earth Am I Here For?. If your church is starting the campaign on the National launch day of February 3rd, we thought you could use this sermon to prepare your members and start to talk about forming small groups. We are offering this download free, and we will offer next week’s sermon for free as well.

Thousands of churches will be taking part in What On Earth Am I Here For? and we can’t wait to hear about how it affects your church. Please make sure to email us with testimonies or any questions at

Getting Ready For The Rest Of Your Life by Rick Warren

Download from Saddleback Resources

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Money“Prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; among whom you appear as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:15)

The worst time to preach on money is when you need some, pastor. The second worst time is when the church needs some.

The best time to preach on money is all the other times.

That said, here are a number of cautions for you to consider before walking into that lions’ den to tame the monster called greed.

1) Get your own house in order. Now, it’s possible to preach on prayer while knowing you have a long way to go in that respect. You can preach on good works and witnessing even if your record is spotty. You can do so because everyone has room for improvement in these areas. But when it comes to giving/stewardship, you can know when you are doing well.

The Christian is to be a giver. That means a hefty portion of his/her income will go into the church offering (whether you call it a tithe or something else), and believers will also be generous to the poor,…

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PlannerThe new year is right around the corner, have you planned your preaching schedule for 2013 yet?  Here are some tips to help you plan for your preaching for all of next year:

1. Spend time fasting, praying and preparing yourself spiritually to hear from God– the amount of time and the way you do this will depend on the individual.  There is no substitute, however, for getting yourself spiritually prepared to hear from God.  As I prepare to start work on my preaching plan, I like to spend 3-4 days fasting, dedicating several periods of time during each day for spiritual examination and prayer.  No amount of planning can substitute for prayer and hearing from God.  Every step in this process must be bathed and saturated in prayer.  The more time you spend in spiritual preparation the better.

Here is a helpful resource from Elmer Towns

2.  Identify the key issues and needs facing your congregation-I like to take an afternoon to simply pray through our church directory, asking God to…

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Eventually every preacher gets stuck where Moses spent some time. In the desert, going nowhere, staring blankly at sheep.

Fortunately it doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. I recall Haddon Robinson warning a gaggle of green wannabes that sermon prep can become dull and mundane. “Like hammering doghouses together on an assembly line.”

The next time you’re staring blankly at the monitor or rummaging the Internet in desperate search of an idea it’s time for a little self-assessment. Chances are you’ll find your drought started in one of four areas: your circumstances, how you cultivate creativity, conflict in the congregation or you’re sensing the approach of your ministry’s closure.

Four questions should help you dial it in.

Circumstance: Am I managing well?

Circumstances will drain us if we grant them control. Sure, we all have stretches of extraordinary demands we have to power through. But if that typifies your ministry its time to ask yourself a hard question. How good are my management skills?

cross We live in a fallen world, and God’s will is not always done on earth.

Still, when we’re faced with such an immense tragedy as the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, we are tempted to ask, “Why?”

But such questions are unanswerable – we simply don’t know.

Instead of asking, “Why?” we need to help our people ask, “What can I do now? What is my next step?”

As you know, the book of Nehemiah is about rebuilding after tragedy. Nehemiah tells the people, “You know well the tragedy of our city; it lies in ruins and its gates are burned. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and rid ourselves of this disgrace!” (Nehemiah 2:17 LB)

Rebuilding is much harder than building from scratch. It’s true for cities, and it’s true for our lives.

To help people rebuild their lives, we must help them understand this:

  • Express your grief. It is OK to mourn, but it is not good to resist, rehearse, reduce, or repress our grief.
  • Get help from others. The best way to do this is to get in a church and in a small group. Build a network of support to help…

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Our hearts are all broken for the families who lost children and loved ones this past Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. We pray for them as well as for emergency workers, teachers, and counselors who have been involved in helping the community in the aftermath.

Pastors fulfill a special calling in moments of tragedy. We carry the burden and the privilege of speaking into people’s lives in moments of pain, loss, and trauma. Biblical prophets shared a Word from the Lord appropriate to the moments that impacted culture so deeply. Pastors, today, occupy a similar role.

I’ve put together four resources to share with you as you minister on the front lines, handle the big questions, and comfort the hearts of those who are broken and bewildered this weekend.

The first is the transcript of a podcast we did a few years ago called Mobilizing Your Church in the Wake of Tragedy. The audio is available on iTunes.

Mobilizing Your Church In Times of Tragedy (pdf)

I’ve also collected three sermon outlines and transcripts to help you prepare to preach this weekend.


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