There are six questions for me to ask myself, with bite to them, which help me to focus as I prepare. They’re a test. If I can’t answer them simply, then I need to do some more work.
I took the passage to a local coffee shop, and watched the customers. What does this passage have to say to 21st century urbanites, most of whom gave up on the god-idea years ago? How does this prise open their questions, address their fears and hopes, shift their distracted focus onto Christ?
How do preachers choose the most suitable passage to preach on? Here are my four criteria.
I hear preachers talking about their sermons as if they’re concept cars, pretty and accurate, gorgeous – but never taken for a real drive, in the rush hour, to do the shopping, in the rain. With the kids acting up in the back.
As preachers and church leaders, we get to help people decide each week to put Christ first. And when we preach we should plan to be specific.
One weakness in much preaching today is that it is quite individually applied, and in a way that can be transplanted from one church to another without too much difficulty. It is not focussed enough on a particular congregation, and therefore lacks the force to move that church to better obedience.
Every so often I go away on a conference to sharpen my preaching skills – in fact, I’m on one at the moment. Something like this has popped up in my diary every year since – well, since a long time ago, and it is one of the top two things that help me improve.
No matter who makes up you congregation, they all have one question as you begin your sermon; and no matter how you do it, you have to answer it somehow. Fail to acknowledge the question, and you have set yourself for a long-term battle to win and keep their attention. I missed this for years.
‘I just teach the Bible.’, he said, glaring at me. In a tone that was slightly defiant, slightly challenging, and – if I’m honest, slightly intimidating. Slightly arrogant, too. I still bristle, years later, as I remember the direct gaze, implying that he spent all his days either with his nose in books, or preaching
I’ve had it with the Bible being quoted at me. Or, to be more accurate, I’ve had it when I have the Bible misquoted at me. It’s not just tactless, it’s spiritually damaging, because it makes God seem to promise something which he doesn’t – and then we get angry with him for not delivering
We are preaching through James at the moment, and I was reminded again of the observation that the Bible teaches us how to teach the Bible. Take these famous words from James 1: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but
‘Cutting to the Heart’ is now out, and available from 10ofthose here. It is also available as a Kindle edition for both UK and US Overseas, go to Amazon..
“Cutting to the Heart’ now available in both paperback and ebook form. Publisher’s Description On the Day of Pentecost, when the apostle Peter addressed the crowd, the people were ‘cut to the heart’ and asked how they should respond to what they had just heard (Acts 2:37). According to the letter to the Hebrews, ‘the
I’m delighted to to announce that my next book will be out in the summer. IVP will be publishing it, under the title: ‘Cutting to the Heart: Applying the Bible in Preaching and Teaching.’ The basic argument is that God uses his Word to change us to be like Jesus, and when we preach we should
I’m reading a book about preaching at the moment, and it’s helpful in all sorts of ways. But I’m not going to tell you you which book because I want to criticise it – not for its substance, but for an irritating stylistic tic, which is so common in preaching that most of us who
It happened last Sunday, but it had happened many times before – five minutes into the sermon, and someone had disconnected, glazed over and was gently heading into a doze. Five minutes! How do you react when that happens? (At least, I assume it happens to other people and it’s not just me? Yes?) I’ve
Every preacher is a communicator, and every good preacher thinks hard about that part of the work. We think about difficult concepts, and how to make them clear, about whether minor grammatical issues are actually ideas on which a whole argument turns – and so on. We know that
This is a Saturday blog post: on a Saturday if I’m preaching, I’m too preoccupied with tomorrow to write a lot, and every preacher is too preoccupied to read a lot. So, it’s just two words. The two words that swirl round my head as I stare at the material I’m preaching on tomorrow. Two
Jesus doesn’t say, “I know you’re and harassed and helpless, but that’s a distraction – you need me.” He says, “I know you’re harassed and helpless – that’s because you don’t know me.”