How to Preach Without Notes – Part 1 of 2

sermon prep Mar 19, 2018

We’ve all seen this happen. The preacher walks up to the stage with a Bible, some pieces of paper, and a binder. He spends the first few seconds placing everything on the podium. While he’s doing this the audience is mostly looking at the top of his head as he looks down. As he begins speaking he reads from one piece of paper, looks up, finds another one in his binder, reads it, looks up again, and then looks down for his next idea. Aside from the sloppiness and the seemingly un-prepared vibe this gives off – it also risks not engaging the audience.

Let’s contrast that scenario with the preacher who gets up on stage and speaks with clarity and command of the room, engages everyone with eye contact and energy, and you never see him look down, fumble through pages, or read from anything but the Bible.

From a communications perspective, the preacher in our first scenario is far less likely to connect with his listeners. He is missing a vital aspect of capturing...

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The Best 5 Books on Leading Change

church leadership Mar 15, 2018

Change is inevitable. Everything changes … constantly. And the rate of change is not going to slow down. This is why every church leader needs to know how to lead their staff and congregation through change.  I’ve pulled together my list of the best five books on leading change. Each one of these books will help you navigate leading change in unique ways. Here’s my list of the best 5 books on leading change:

5. Who Stole My Church? by Gordon MacDonald

Let me first say I wish this book didn’t have to be written. I wish churches young and old were so mission-central and focused on the task Jesus has given to us of making disciples that they willingly embrace the changes necessary to reach the next generation for Christ. But, unfortunately we know that is not always the case. This book gives a glimpse of what it’s like for some who do not readily accept that the church must constantly change its methods without compromising its message. It...

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3 Things You Must Do With Every Point You Make In Your Sermons

sermon prep Mar 05, 2018

You make points in every sermon you preach. You try to communicate at least one point. One idea. One bottom line. You may have one major point but a number of supporting points. The point is, you make points. Get the point? So, what do you do with every point you make? Is it enough just to say the words. “My main point is _________. Okay, let’s close in prayer.” Well, we both know that would be insufficient.

We have to do more than just say a point for it to stick. But how do we do this? How do we develop sticky points that land on people in powerful ways? I suggest doing at least three things with every point you make in your sermons. Using these as a base line allows you to do more if you’d like, but make sure you’re at least doing these three things:

1. Teach the point. When you teach the point you are explaining the concept and providing the biblical backing. In other words, you are showing how you derived the principle...

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Preach What You Practice – Why Rehearsing Is Essential To Great Sermon Delivery

sermon prep Feb 06, 2017

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,...

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Four Truths from the Christmas Story You Should Preach to Yourself

sermon prep Dec 22, 2016

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’s agonizing.

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...

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The Best 5 Books On Preaching

sermon prep Oct 14, 2016

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:

5. Preaching & Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

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.

4. Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chappell

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...

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How to Ditch Your Plan When You Feel God is Leading in a Different Direction

sermon prep May 30, 2016

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...

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3 Ways to Give Application in Your Sermons

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...

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4 Irresistible Traits of Speakers who Connect with their Audience

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...

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A Secret to Help You Accelerate Your Personal Ministry Development

church leadership Jan 25, 2016

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...

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