Archives For Preaching

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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Fishing Net

Some of the greatest preachers in history were great at introducing and delivering sermons, but poor at closing them. We preach Christ and we preach a gospel that calls for commitment, so powerful preaching presses for a verdict.

This is an area I spend a lot of time on when I’m preparing a message because a sermon without a conclusion is a message without a purpose. Changed lives come from great conclusions. John Stott said, “If there’s no summons, there’s no sermon.”

First, avoid these four common mistakes:

  • Don’t just summarize the message. Ask people to act.
  • Don’t announce that you’re concluding, especially if you don’t mean it.
  • Don’t blame the clock and rush to a conclusion.
  • Don’t introduce new ideas or extra points in your conclusion.

Instead, conclude by doing these things:

1. Always point back to Jesus Christ.

Jesus is center-stage. The goal of preaching is not to get people to fall in love with you as the preacher but to get them to fall in love with Jesus. Since the Bible is the story of Jesus’ redemptive work, every sermon ought to draw people to the cross and the resurrection of…

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Preaching to the Unconvinced

Preaching to the UnconvincedChristians believe, want to know God’s Word 
and come eager to hear your preaching. Non-Christians don’t believe, aren’t that interested in God’s Word, but sometimes end up in your services. So how do you preach to the unconvinced? How do you destroy the negative stereotypes they have about God, the church, and you as the preacher? And how do you help them to have ears to hear what God has to say to them? This new eBook from church planter Vince Antonucci is divided into seven practical principles Antonucci has found to be critical and effective in preaching to the unconvinced. With each principle, he offers helpful examples of how he puts them into action, as well as inspiring real-life stories of how the unconvinced have become convinced. Download the FREE eBook.

Key highlights:

  • Seven proven principles for preaching to the unconvinced
  • Strategies for busting stereotypes of pastors, churches and Christians
  • How to evaluate and use your preaching to create a safe place for the unconvinced
  • How to creatively use culture to build bridges
  • How to anticipate and proactively…

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If God’s objective for every believer is to transform us into total Christlikeness, then the objective of preaching is to motivate people to develop Christlike convictions (to think like Jesus), Christlike character (to feel like Jesus), and Christlike conduct (to act like Jesus). Every other objective of preaching is secondary. At the end of the sermon, if people aren’t being transformed in how they think, feel, and act, I’ve missed the mark as a preacher.

To put it another way, the ultimate goal of preaching is not information. In fact, giving people a greater knowledge of the Bible can cause pride to develop in our hearers rather than humility if that information isn’t translated into obedience. And the goal if preaching is not merely instruction either. Preaching certainly includes instruction, but there is more to preaching that mere behavior modification. The goal of well-rounded preaching is transformation and obedience.

If we preach with life transformation as our goal, then the result will be believers who are more obedient to the Bible, and we call obedient believers disciples. Just look at the challenges Jesus gave as He taught people – He continually…

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Christmas at Saddleback

If the two times of the year that guests typically show up for a weekend church service are Easter and Christmas, then we have an evangelistic mandate to make the most of the opportunity to welcome them, show them grace and love, and initiate a relationship with them if at all possible. The problem is, the people who attend faithfully the other fifty Sundays of the year often forget about the priority of welcoming and greeting those who are attending for the first time.

One of the most valuable things church leaders can be doing right now is reminding their members about the fundamentals of receiving guests. And that starts with a basic understanding of the kind of guests you’re going to meet at your Christmas services.

  • There are those who come seeking – like the wise men
  • There are those who come surprised – like the shepherd
  • There are those who come distracted – like the innkeeper and his wife
  • There are those who come kicking and screaming – like Herod.

In other words, your crowd will include those who are present with family but don’t really believe, or at least they don’t believe that Jesus is for them….

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I realize that we pastors are going way beyond motivational speaking in our sermons. We are sharing the gospel and leading people to the cross. But we are still speakers and communicators nonetheless, and our effectiveness and influence depend on our understanding something about the nature of speaking.

Seth Godin, a marketing guru with much to teach the church, wrote about speaking and had this to say:

Speaking in public: two errors that lead to fear…

1. You believe that you are being actively judged

2. You believe that the subject of the talk is you

When you stand up to give a speech, there’s a temptation to believe that the audience is actually interested in you.

This just isn’t true. (Or if it is, it doesn’t benefit you to think that it is).

You are not being judged, the value of what you are bringing to the audience is being judged.

And he goes on to say:

The members of the audience are interested in themselves. The audience wants to know what they can use, what they can learn, or at the very least, how they can be entertained.

Source: Seth Godin


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Plane RideHave you been invited to be a guest preacher?

I have had the opportunity to do a bit of guest preaching lately. I have also dealt with my fair share of good and bad guest preachers.

Here are some tips to help make you a better guest preacher – one they will actually want to invite back.

1. Honor the senior pastor

Most pastors do not get nearly enough appreciation for the extremely hard work they do for their church. They will never stand up on stage and toot their own horn. So, as the guest preacher, you should toot it for them.

Let the people know why you love their pastor. Create an opportunity for everyone to clap for him. Give the man some honor and recognition. (1 Timothy 5:17)

2. Respect the time limit

Ask how long you are scheduled to preach and stick with it! DO NOT go longer than the time you are given. You are a guest. Don’t over stay your welcome!

Not all churches have a clock visible from stage, so I personally use thePresentation Clock app on my iPhone. I set the time I have to preach, and it counts…

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Beautiful take-off. Wonderful flight. Crash-landing.

Unfortunately, that’s what I’ve witnessed toward the end of many preachers’ evangelistic sermons.

These well-meaning communicators of God’s Word often have great opening illustrations that capture the audience’s attention. Their takeoff is flawless and inviting.

Many times their beautiful takeoff is followed by a wonderful sermon. The preacher unpacks a Bible passage that clearly lays out the “flight plan” of salvation. Hearts sore to 35,000 feet as the passengers encounter the shockingly good news of God’s grace in God’s Word.

But, all too often, as these preacher-pilots start putting down their landing gear cracks begin to appear in the fuselage. Wires cross, lights flash and the smoke of works-based righteousness begins to slowly fill the cabin, choking the passengers with legalism.

This is followed by severe turbulence in the hearts of the passengers, not the kind that comes from genuine conviction but from a brand of “grace” that is loaded with conditions and qualifications.

As the preacher points the nose of his sermon toward the landing strip he uses phrases that focus on what the audience must do to be saved rather than on…

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I received an interesting note from Joe Hayes, head of the TV and video ministry at Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, South Carolina. At Redemption, the Sunday online worship service is succeeding way beyond expectations. Since so many churches have an online video feed of their live service on Sunday – and yet very few do it well – here’s 4 tips from Joe that might help:

1) Consider it just as important as your live event.   Don’t do an online, streaming feed and treat the viewers like second class citizens. Make sure it’s as high quality as you can afford, and make it available and easy to find.

2) Understand the online experience is different from the live service.   In the live service people are sitting with a large group. They can feel the excitement, see the preacher sweat, and it’s a visceral, physical experience. But with the online service, people are watching on a small screen, usually from across the room. They’re also probably distracted. So shoot more close-ups, and make sure the audience…

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I love visiting other churches. I love walking on a church campus for the first time pretending I know nothing about church. It helps me understand how people might feel when they come to visit my church for the first time.

I visited a new church this week that I have never been to. They have a nice building. Their volunteers were friendly. The music was good. But as I sat and listened to the pastor, for some reason I was having trouble connecting.

The content was good, but something in his delivery was off. That’s when I realized the problem. The pastor had lousy eye contact.

His eyes bounced left, right, then down at his notes. Left, right, notes. Left, right, notes.

Although the message was thought out, his eyes betrayed him. His nerves showed. And it made it hard to watch and listen.

Eye contact is critical for four major reasons.

4 Benefits of Eye Contact in Preaching:

1. Eye Contact Builds Trust

When people lie, what do their eyes do? They look away! That is why people will say, “Look me in the eyes and tell me the truth.”…

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