Archives For Preaching

10 Ways to Build Momentum with Your Groups

Steve Gladen and Brett Eastman talk about Summer and how to make Summer Time a little more dynamic in your groups.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:41-43

1. Stay consistent: continue to meet when you regularly meet.
2. Uplift someone or a group in your area.
3. Modify group meetings.
4. Make a plan for spiritual growth.
5. Explore Rotating leadership and homes.
6. Reassess
7. Try a different type of study.
8. Involve everyone in an overnight retreat together.
9. Minister together, do a serve project!
10. Experience a night of worship.

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By Russell D. Moore

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Mother’s Day is a particularly sensitive time in many congregations, and pastors and church leaders often don’t even know it. This is true even in congregations that don’t focus the entire service around the event as if it were a feast day on the church’s liturgical calendar. Infertile women, and often their husbands, are still often grieving in the shadows.

It is good and right to honor mothers. The Bible calls us to do so. Jesus does so with his own mother. We must recognize, though, that many infertile women find this day almost unbearable. This is not because these women are (necessarily) bitter or covetous or envious. The day is simply a reminder of unfulfilled longings, longings that are good.

Some pastors, commendably, mention in their sermons and prayers on this day those who want to be mothers but who have not had their prayers answered. Some recognize those who are mothers not to children, but to the rest of the congregation as they disciple spiritual daughters in the faith. This is more than a “shout-out” to those who don’t have…

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Geoff Surratt PreachingI find writing sermons incredibly difficult. I wish that I could just read a scripture, give the historical context, make wry observations and then call people to repentance, but sermon writing is a gut-wrenching, arduous process for me. I would compare it to childbirth, but every mom would rightfully slap me down. Nonetheless it is really hard.

Here is how sermon preparation often goes:

Stage One: I am a Prophet

There’s a whole lotta sinnin’ going on and I’m the man to point it out, I’ll open a big ole can of Jeremiah on the church this Sunday. They won’t know what hit them. I do a quick search for every scripture that refers to the sin of the week and I get worked up into a lather of righteous indignation. You can almost smell the fire and brimstone coming off the computer screen as I type out the sermon.

Stage Two: I am a Sinner

After studying scripture for a little while I begin to feel convicted. It seems that there is two-by-four attached to my retina that is blurring my vision for speck extraction. By midweek I realize that I am such…

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About 40 years ago, I was at a camp in the mountains. Alone in a room, I prayed, “God, if there is a God, I’m open. If you’re real, I want to know you’re real. And, Jesus Christ, if you can change my life, if there is a purpose for my life, I want to know it.”

You know what happened? Nothing. I didn’t get goose bumps. I didn’t cry. No bright lights shown down. Nothing.

But that was the turning point in my life – because I was no longer biasing myself against God. I wanted to know the truth, even if it was inconvenient.

As we teach our congregations, we need to help them understand that Truth can be discovered once we develop an attitude of openness that says, “I want to learn God’s Truth more than anything else.”

Once they understand this, we can explain that God uses these five ways to show us what is true. You can take these points and adapt them for use in your congregation —

1. Through creation — We learn a lot about God and a lot about truth just by looking at…

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Empty TombThe lack of focus given to the resurrection of Jesus Christ in theological thinking, preaching and teaching today is troubling. Surprisingly, many evangelicals seem to undervalue it.  It’s not that they do not believe it to be important, nor do they disbelieve its historical authenticity. Yet anecdotal evidence and a perusal of theological works reveal a substantial lack of passion for the importance of Christ’s resurrection.

A brief overview of Scripture–as reflected in Jesus’ teaching, verbal portraits of the evangelists, and the early church in Acts and the epistles–provides strong emphasis on the value and significance of Christ’s resurrection.  Therefore, it should be a major part of our thinking, proclamation, and theological framework. It is integral to our faith. As noted by author N.T. Wright,

To put it at its most basic: the resurrection of Jesus offers itself . . . not as an odd event within the world as it is but as the utterly characteristic, prototypical, and foundational event within the world as it has begun to be. It is not an absurd event within the old world but the symbol and starting point of…

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crossJesus didn’t cloud his messages with technical or theological jargon. He spoke in simple terms that normal people could understand. We need to remember that Jesus did not use the classical Greek language of the scholar. He spoke in Aramaic. He used the street language of that day and talked of birds, flowers, lost coins, and other everyday objects that anyone could relate to.

Jesus taught profound truths in simple ways. Today, we do the opposite. We teach simple truths in profound ways.

Sometimes when pastors think they are being “deep,” they are really just being “muddy. They like to show off their knowledge by using Greek words and academic terms. No one cares as much about the Greek as pastors do. Chuck Swindoll once told me that he believes an overuse of word studies in preaching discourages confidence in the English text. I agree.

It is easy to complicate the gospel, and of course, Satan would love for us to do just that. The apostle Paul worried that “your minds would be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3 NASB).

And remember, simple…

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If you’ve ever done any amount of public speaking, you’ve had that moment when you step on stage and have a sinking feeling that says, “What in the world am I doing here?”

Ever had that?

Whether it’s the crowd that’s staring back at you, the venue itself, your lack of preparedness, or the content you’ve been asked to deliver, you realize in the heat of the moment that you’ve been asked to do something that’s out of your comfort zone and destined for a slow death.

I had one of these opportunities just the other day. I was asked to give a presentation on a recent mission trip I led to Costa Rica. The trip was phenomenal. But in the same vein as every other post-mission-trip-story I, and you, have ever heard in my life, the gravity and beauty of the trip doesn’t translate once you’re off the field. Translation isn’t often hampered by a language barrier, though. It’s hampered because the people in the room weren’t there on the trip, they feel a bit guilty because they haven’t gone on a mission trip, they want…

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We spend hours working on our sermons, in particular, making sure we grab the congregation’s attention at the start. Yet, far too many of us simply trail off at the end. We never press the congregation for a decision. A sermon without a conclusion is a message without a purpose.

Here are a few ways Pastor Rick makes sermon conclusions more effective —

Always point back to Christ. Offer an opportunity to receive Christ and expect people to respond.

End with emotional intensity. Preach through the head to the heart. Once you’ve informed their minds, you must touch their emotions and challenge their wills. Your conclusion should be the emotional high point of the sermon.

Ask for a specific response. Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific. The goal of the sermon should be to storm the citadel of the will and capture it for Jesus Christ. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Use an argument. Anticipate the objections the audience might have and logically refute them.
  • Use a warning. Warn them of the consequences of disobedience.
  • Use indirect conviction. A good example is the story of Nathan and David…

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WineskinsA football player’s head is not in the game and he’s just going through the motion. The narrator says he is phoning it in.

The stage actor has said those lines precisely 568 times before audiences and an untold number in rehearsal and in front of his bathroom mirror. He has to really work at his craft, lest he “phone it in.”

The teacher has gone over those lessons each year for the last two decades. She could do it blind-folded while making a grocery list. If she’s not careful, she’ll “phone it in.”

Our Lord warned of religious people using “vain repetitions” in their prayers. Putting the mind in neutral and the mouth spouting out those words and phrases we’ve all learned, as though the Lord hears and answers based on sheer volume. Phoning it in.

You’re a retired pastor and travel a good bit. You get invited to guest-supply in various pulpits and speak to congregations that have never heard any of your best stuff. By the third year of this, you’ve boiled your preaching down to a solid one dozen messages. You’re having more fun than you’ve had…

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