Five Ways to Overcome Preaching Distractions

sermon development Jan 13, 2015
There are many things that distract you while you preach. Distractions can easily interrupt your flow, make you lose your train of thought and potentially derail your message. It’s important to prepare for potential distractions ahead of time. All preaching distractions fall into one of two categories: internal or external.

Internal Distractions. These exist inside your head. Your mind goes a million miles an hour while you preach. You think about a lot of things in the moment:
-you can’t decide what your next word is going to be
-you wonder how your message is coming across
-you’re not sure if you’ve adequately made your point
-you realize you’re not actually living out what you’re preaching
-you think about the argument you had that morning with your wife
-you’re concerned someone might be thinking you’re preaching about them
-you realized you’ve talked yourself into a corner
-you wonder if everyone is bored and all of this goes...
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Here’s to 6 Months of Preaching Donkey – Top 5 Posts of 2014

church leadership Dec 30, 2014

Preaching Donkey has been so much fun. I can’t believe it’s been around for six months! I started this blog on July 1, 2014 as a way to help preachers communicate better. I wanted to share some thoughts and start a conversation with other preachers and learn together. The response has blown me away!  So far the blog has 31 posts with 17,739 page views. Over 10,000 people follow @PreachingDonkey on Twitter and 154 people like Preaching Donkey on Facebook. Preaching Donkey articles have been published on Sermon Central and Church Leaders several times. I never dreamed this little idea would take off like it has, but this is only the beginning!

I am truly grateful for you. Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing Preaching Donkey with your friends. You are why Preaching Donkey will keep going into 2015 with even more helpful content for preachers who want to communicate better! I thought it would be fun to look back at the top...

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Why It’s Vital to Take a Day off and Have a Real Vacation

church leadership Dec 16, 2014

The world is not going to end if you take a day off. This planet will keep turning if you go on a vacation. One of the best things you can do to stay fresh as a preacher is to take a break.

So many pastors get burned out and fatigued because they lack balance. They are giving 100% of themselves 100% of the time. This is not sustainable and will lead to an inevitable crash landing. But there are two simple things you can do to keep yourself from burnout: Take a real day off and have a real vacation. Why are these so important?

Here’s why it’s vital to take a day off and have a real vacation:

1. God rested. God set a pattern of working six days and resting one. If your schedule is packed tighter than God’s and you think you have more to get done than him, you need to loosen things up. God commanded his people to remember the sabbath. Remember to rest. To recognize that God provides and even if you take a break from your work, he’ll keep...

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Does the Holy Spirit ONLY Work When Preachers are NOT Prepared?

sermon prep Dec 09, 2014

If you preach regularly you’ll resonate with this quip about sermon preparation, “Somebody’s gonna suffer. Either you do before, or they do during.” -Howard Hendricks

Sermon preparation is not an easy task. It takes great patience and the ability to stick through even when inspiration and creativity are lacking.

This is why I have written a lot of articles on sermon prep:

I know that sermon preparation can be vexing, and I want to help in any way I can. I also know how important it is to put in the necessary hard work and deliver a sermon that is worthy of a listen.

I get interesting feedback when I write about the importance of...

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3 Things You Can do Right Now to Communicate Better as a Preacher

The most effective preachers are continual learners. What separates ordinary preachers from extraordinary communicators is a relentless desire to improve. But there are so many things competing for your time it’s difficult to know which resources to take advantage of. To make it easier, I want to share 3 things you can do right now to communicate better as a preacher:

1. Read great preaching resources.

I once met with guy who was in his sophomore year in college. He felt a strong calling to be a pastor and wanted to know if he should change his major and pursue ministry as a career. I offered him some books to read that would help him think through his decision. He declined them, “I’m not much of a reader.”

“Well, then you won’t be much of a pastor.” I responded without thinking much about it.

He was surprised at my assessment that he should either become a reader or do something different for a living. I feel very strongly that those...

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Two Questions to Nail Down Before Every Sermon

sermon prep Nov 18, 2014

To know if you were successful at something you’ve tried, you have to know what you were seeking to accomplish. This is true in every area of life but especially in preaching. This is why I nail down two questions before every sermon. These two questions are an essential part of my sermon preparation process, and I want to share them with you.

1. What is the objective for this sermon?

When you think back on a sermon you’ve preached you should know if you met your objective. Nothing is more frustrating than putting lots of work into a sermon and having no way to measure its effectiveness. But to assess the sermon you need an objective to measure it against. And to meet an objective, you must have an objective. So what exactly is a preaching objective?

A preaching objective is simply what you want the sermon to do. A sermon should be more of a verb than a noun. A sermon should work. It should accomplish things.

But your sermon only accomplishes...

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9 Tips for Preaching on Controversial Topics

sermon prep Nov 11, 2014

As a preacher you should never shy away from tough topics. If the Bible addresses an issue, you should too. You want to help your people have a holistic view of how biblical truth intersects with every aspect of their lives. But the more controversial the topic the more important it is to handle it with care.

In the last couple years I have preached on topics ranging from what the Bible teaches about alcohol consumption, to sex and sexual issues, to marriage, and financial giving. Along the way, I have learned a few things about how to approach these types of sermons, and I would like to share with you. Here are 9 tips for preaching on controversial topics:

1. Avoid shock-jocking. Some preachers use sensitive topics as an opportunity to use crass language and coarse humor. Their intent is to capture attention and foster interest in the topic, but this is unnecessary. If you are covering a sensitive topic it probably engenders enough interest in itself.

Depending on your...

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Stop Preaching Out of Pride and Fear

sermon development Nov 04, 2014

As preachers we must guard against pride. It is a trap that can destroy our effectiveness and our ministries. But we need confidence in order to boldly proclaim God’s word. A tension exists between pride and confidence.

Most of us would say that being confident in our abilities is generally good, but being prideful in ourselves is detrimental. We know that the Scriptures contain harsh warnings against pride. You can be a confident person without being prideful, but it often seems like a fine line.

A closely related character trait to pride and confidence is fear. Fear can be a huge inhibitor. Most of us bounce back and forth between pride and fear. Sometimes we’re prideful of our accomplishments looking for others to notice how awesome we are and validate us. Other times we are insecure in our abilities and fearful of what other people might think. We like confidence because it seems to be a good middle ground, but it is difficult to stay there...

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How to Get More Helpful Feedback on Your Sermons

sermon prep Oct 28, 2014

There are few things more vulnerable than preaching. If you do it right, it is a moment when you bare your soul for the world to see. So it makes sense that you wonder what people think of your preaching. You want to know if your sermon worked. Did God use it to move people? Sometimes you just want someone to tell you that you did great so you don’t feel as awful about your mediocre sermon (we’ve all been there).

Most of us walk away from a sermon we’ve preached with this resounding thought: Validate me, tell me how great my sermon was because I need to feel worthy as a person!

Categorically positive feedback is acceptable from your mom or your spouse. Everyone needs someone cheering them on. But you have to pursue more meaningful feedback from others if you want to get better. You should seek feedback that actually makes a difference. You want the kind that tells you if your sermons are doing what they’re supposed to do – making an impact.

But...

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5 Practical Things Preachers Can Learn from Paul

sermon prep Oct 21, 2014

In our effort to become better preachers we often learn from the best preachers in our generation. We watch the superstars and take notes gleaning all we can from them. This, by the way, is a good thing. While you should never seek to copy someone else or become them, you can always learn a great deal from studying best practices. But we have a lot to learn not only from our contemporaries, but also from those who have gone before. One leader and preacher who we can learn a great deal from is Paul.

Paul, the Apostle, was not only a top notch theologian who wrote a huge part of the New Testament. He was also a missionary, pastor, church-planter and movement leader. We can gain a lot from watching his life and ministry. Here are 5 practical things preachers can learn from Paul:

1. Paul relied on the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The discussion of whether churches should carefully plan out their ministry strategy or rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance creates a false...

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