When you hit on a secret sauce by accident, it’s worth jotting down what went into it, so that next time you can make it on purpose.
I do wonder, sometimes, if we go too hard with our plans too early, and the result is that we feel trapped by them.
The Prime Minister’s ‘frog-in-the-throat’ moment will be something that any preacher will know. It feels as though your entire speaking system has gone on lockdown. So what to do?
How can we be culturally ‘invisible’, so that people can hear what we’re saying with a minimum of interference?
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.
We are pastors, and when we have a hard message, and we know the effect it will have, our hearts shift.
A long time ago, in a cinema far, far away, I learnt a critical lesson about preaching at Christmas.
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.
There are many differences between most of us and Billy Graham. But here’s a critical lesson we can all take to heart.
Why ever wouldn’t you want to evangelise? And I know the answer: it’s because of the push-back that we anticipate, brace ourselves for, practice feeling the pain for, and therefore fear. As Bill Hybels puts it, “We say people’s ‘No’ for them.” So what’s the answer?
Cal Newport helps us see how to restrict ‘shallow work’ and its distractions, to work productively, and at depth.
Let me ask you the obvious question: have you ever actually read Jeremiah? I don’t mean, have you read the famous bits, and I don’t mean have you read it sequentially in your quiet times over a series of weeks. No, I mean, have you read it, all the way through, in a sitting.
So, by way of going back to basics, here’s how I approached a whole book – by some estimates, the longest book in the Bible.
Our politicians have just refused to speak for 48hrs, and deprived themselves and us of leadership. We preachers can and must do better.
Several times recently I’ve seen Christians caught out by video clips on the web , saying things which were, with hindsight, not what they should really have said. How can we minimise the risk of this happening to us?
In Paul’s mind the potential elder must show a double gifting from Romans 12: an ability to teach must be partnered to an ability to lead.
Churches, like any human organisation, cannot operate long-term as shapeless, improvised groupings. And even though an occasional New Testament scholar will suggest that the first few decades of the church had an exciting, free-form style, which only much later hardened into a hierarchy, when we turn to the New Testament, we can see that the experience of the very first Christians was much more complex.
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.