Every time we preach we have an opportunity to fulfill our God-given calling to impact lives with the truth of God’s Word and the hope of the gospel. But the effectiveness of our preaching is impacted by a host of variables we cannot control, including distractions in the room. But there is something we can control, and that is how well we prepare.
I’ve written extensively on several aspects of sermon preparation including forming a preaching team, nailing down a weekly prep schedule, and seeking healthy feedback. But I find one of the most often neglected aspects of effective sermon preparation is rehearsing the sermon. By rehearsing I mean preaching the entire message by yourself (or to a handful of people) before you actually preach the sermon to your church.
The reluctance to rehearse is varied. Some preachers might think it’s awkward to preach to themselves. They’re totally right, by the way. It is awkward,...
Nothing makes me beat my head against the wall more than trying to think of another creative way to tell the Christmas story. Christmas Eve is tomorrow and I’m preaching. I have felt the weight of this message for about a week now. It’s coming…
Am I ready?
Will this message make a difference?
Will they hate it? Will they love it?
Is it creative? Is it lame? Does it matter?
Do I do the “simple, straightforward” approach? Or should I do the more “creative, imaginative” approach?
It hit me today as I was reading through the account of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2 that there are truths in it for me. Four simple truths that serve as helpful reminders to those of us who preach. I want to share these because I think it will benefit you to keep them in mind as you preach your Christmas services this week.
In the passage, the angel comes to the shepherds and says these words: “Fear not, for...
It amazes me the insights and wisdom available to us in great preaching books. I’ve pulled together the books that have impacted my preaching the most. If you’re anything like me, it’s hard to find time to read every book that is recommended to you. Why not listen instead? Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks
Each one of these books will help you improve your preaching in distinct ways. I love all of them for different reasons, and my copies are all marked up. Here’s my list of the best 5 books on preaching:
This is a classic work that speaks to the centrality and importance of preaching. It definitely should be a staple in any pastor’s library.
This book discusses the importance of preaching Christ in every sermon and out of every text. Chapell teaches the reader to see the gospel implications in every text and communicate them with...
I recently preached a sermon where I felt God was leading me to change up the introduction entirely. This occurred to me minutes before I was about to preach. I sat on the front row during worship and it was clear to me – the plan I had for the sermon opening just didn’t fit. The direction I felt like God wanted me to go was to share a personal story of my dealings with sexual temptation as a teenager and into college. This was a risky proposition when completely extemporaneous, but I’ve told the story many times so I went with it.
This experience made me think about the best ways to ditch your plan when you feel like God is leading in a different direction with the sermon. Here are seven pointers to keep in mind:
1. Prepare well. The better prepared you are the easier it is to deviate from the plan. You won’t be wondering how the sermon wraps itself up, you’ve prepared well enough to know. For more in-depth help on how to prepare...
One of your jobs as a preacher is to teach your listeners how to live out the truths you preach from Scripture. If your goal is simply to educate or inform your audience so they can be more knowledgeable, then stop preaching. Preaching, of necessity, requires application. We’re preaching for life-change. We’re preaching to make the written word become the living word in people’s daily lives.
But the application part of the sermon is often the most difficult to execute well. I once listened to a sermon where the preacher concluded with a list of 13 ways to apply the message. Thirteen ways! Most people struggle to remember thirteen different truths from one sermon, much less apply them. He was well-meaning, but the buckshot approach just doesn’t work.
With that said, drilling down on just one application seems too narrow. You have a varied audience with varied needs. The text has one meaning, and hopefully your message can be summed up...
Recently my church hosted a leadership conference to encourage and equip our lay leaders and staff. One of the speakers at the event, Nikki, impacted me with her engaging presentation. She spoke for nearly an hour training our leaders how to do ministry effectively in our context. About halfway through her presentation I had filled my page with notes and was eager for more. I started to think about what made the experience so captivating. I turned the page over and jotted down some notes that I want to share with you. Nikki embodied the 4 irresistible traits of speakers who connect with their audience.
Speakers who connect:
1. Relate to their audience. Irresistible speakers know how to relate to their audience. They understand the need people have to feel understood, and they make an effort to demonstrate to their listeners that they “get” them. When Nikki spoke that day it impacted me because I was convinced that she understood me. The subject matter was...
It’s been said that leaders are readers and readers are leaders. I firmly believe this. This is why, in this post I include reading as one of the top three actions any preacher can take right now to improve their craft and become a better communicator.
I love great books. My shelf is full of them. Yours probably is too. But I often find that I have more books than I have time to read. You probably have the same problem. This is frustrating because there is so much insight, knowledge, and wisdom that I miss out on simply because I don’t have the time to read every great book that comes out.
I found something that has solved this problem for me and has accelerated my ability to gain insight and develop as a leader. I want to share it with you because I think you’ll benefit from it as well. Ministry Library is a resource designed by my friend, Brian Beauford and his team. It’s simple, they take great leadership books, the ones you and I...
How you begin your sermon is vital. It can mean the difference between your listeners checking out or deciding to pay close attention. The things you say at the beginning of a sermon are what your listeners subconsciously use to build a framework for your whole message. If your thoughts are murky and unclear, you’re laying an unstable foundation.
The first 90 seconds of your sermon are some of the most powerful seconds you have. Don’t waste them. Your listeners decide within these first 90 seconds whether they will keep listening to you or not. This is particularly true if they don’t know you. But even if they do know you and like you as a preacher, every Sunday is a new opportunity to engage them or lose them. And both engagement and disengagement happen faster than you think.
Here are 3 Must-Do’s of a Strong Sermon Opening
1. Start high. When you step onto the stage to present the Word of God you should be thrilled! You should revel in the...
I recently met with a pastor who leads a thriving church in my area. He planted the church in 2003 and it has grown from three families to 2,500 people in attendance today. He spent an hour sharing a lot of fantastic insights about casting vision, setting direction, and bringing people along on mission to reach the community. I want to share with you one of the most valuable things he told me: Tell your church what they are.
Tell Your Church What They Are
Tell your church what they are and eventually they’ll become that. These words rang inside my head as he explained that his job as a pastor is to set the expectation high and let his church know he believes that’s who they are. Eventually, they will become that.
Great leaders set high expectations and truly believe their church is capable of meeting them. This principle is the same in school teaching. If a teacher expects a lot out of a student, the student will likely rise to the occasion and deliver. If the...
Anyone who preaches typically has a lot to say. You have more to say than you have time to communicate on Sunday morning. This is why so many preachers preach too long. But what you have to say is important. And, believe it or not, there’s a lot of people, beginning with those in your local church, who want to know what you have to say about a lot of things. You’re a spiritual leader in their lives and your thoughts, experiences, and opinions matter to them.
This is why you should blog. This is why I blog.
In my last post I shared my journey of blogging for one year. This post will explore two ways blogging can enhance your ministry. Then, I want to give you some simple steps to get started setting up your blog and writing your first post.
1. Blogging increases your influence and kingdom impact.
There are people who would read your blog because you wrote it. There are others who currently don’t know you who would find you, appreciate your...