Category Archives: preaching

Random Thoughts on Preaching

Here are some of my random thoughts on preaching from my 34 years as a senior pastor.

1. Boring preaching is criminal. The most important and amazing message in history and you are going to make it sound boring? Jail time.

2. It is hard for preaching to be boring if the preacher is excited about the text.

3. The preacher’s devotional life affects his preaching. Maybe you can get away with it for a while, but neglect time alone with God and preaching will suffer in the long run.

4. You can’t separate who you are from the task of preaching.

5. Preachers who read a lot Continue reading

Preaching Tips for Pastors, part 2

What is your sermon about?

Years ago, while serving as a youth pastor, I got the opportunity to preach at my church on a Sunday morning. The day before the big event, I saw one of the teenagers in our church and he asked me what I was preaching on the next day. Five minutes later I was still talking to the poor student in an ill-fated attempt to explain the upcoming sermon!

I didn’t know much about preaching (should I use present tense instead of past tense here?), but I suddenly realized that I needed Continue reading

Preaching Tips for Pastors, part 1

My pastor friends will say to me as I write on preaching, “Physician, heal thyself!” I don’t even want to know what my enemies might say! But I want to provide some thoughts on this work in which I have been engaged for the past several decades.

Preaching is an incredibly daunting, challenging and difficult task. It takes skill and effort and practice. But it also is incredibly rewarding– not to mention that we pastors believe God has called and compelled us to preach.

Here are three basic and fundamental thoughts on preaching every preacher should understand.

1. You are the preacher God called. If God called you to preach, he called you to preach. He didn’t call you to become someone else who will then preach for you. He has called you to preach. While you can and should learn from other preachers, you must never try to be another preacher. God made you to be you. Be the best version of you, but be you. Continue reading

The Preaching Privilege

The ringing of my phone jarred me awake at 2:55 on Sunday morning. 2:55! Vaguely conscious, I mumbled some sort of greeting. It must have sounded like I’d smoked profusely for a lifetime.

Someone on the other line said something about being with a security company and that an alarm was going off at our church building. “Church? What’s a church?” Slowly, the fog in my brain began to lift and I asked a few questions. Apparently, the wind had caused an unlocked door at our church building to set off an alarm. No motion detectors were activated so it seemed all was well. After some additional words the phone call ended. It was nearly 3 a.m.

Since becoming a pastor decades ago, Saturday night sleep has always been fitful. Continue reading

Not Obscure to Him

I’m finishing preaching a series of messages through the book of Colossians. What a great book of the bible! The last chapter tells the names of many who are obscure to all but the most ardent of bible scholars. There are mentions of people like Tychicus and Aristarchus and even the only mention of a man named Jesus who is called Justus. (Talk about a tough name to live up to!)

These verses, and other places with similar lists, remind us that the bible is filled with the names of people who are not so well-known. You may know about Paul and David and Moses, but perhaps not about Benaiah or Epaphras or Ehud the left-handed Benjaminite. Those names Continue reading

Transformational Preaching

Preaching is, for me, like swimming in the ocean. It is an awesome experience if you don’t die!

Nothing is more exciting and nothing is more intimidating. Preaching both charges me up and wears me down. It invigorates and it frustrates. It brings me the agony of labor and the joy of birth. It keeps me up at night and gets me up in the morning. Preaching is big and I know it.

If you are involved in preaching you know something of the dilemma we face. We are tasked with bringing God’s word to man. We are to speak sacred things to sinful listeners. This great responsibility can be a bit overwhelming. But here is what makes it even bigger. We need to preach for transformation.

Nothing is worse than boring people with the greatest news known to mankind. How terrible to think that I can make the gospel sound like average news rather than good news. How Continue reading

What a Good Sermon Does

There is some bad preaching out there.  There are sermons that are theological swamp lands and others too boring for the strongest caffeinated drinks.  Some sermons chase rabbits like a hound; others skirt the text like a ballerina.  Preacher, please don’t mislead me or confuse me or, heaven forbid, bore me with this great message.

I’ve been preaching most of my life- 25 years off, 28 years on. At the risk of opening myself to clever comments from amateur comedians who hear my sermons, let me tell you what a good sermon ought to do.

1. A good sermon informs. A good sermon tells us the truth. It teach us God’s word.  That should go unsaid, but because it too often goes undone, it needs saying.  Preacher, tell us what God says, not just what you think.  Tell us what we need, not just what we like or want.  Teach us the bible.  Tell us what God wants us to know.  This is an irreplaceable part of good preaching, but it isn’t enough.

2.  A good sermon inspires.  A good sermon tells us the truth in a way that moves our emotion as well as informs our logic.  It touches our spirit as well as our mind.  Preacher, use a story once in a while.  The bible is full of them.  Use some illustrations.  They grab our attention and they help us to see the truth in a different way.  Preach with some passion and stir us to greater things.

3.  A good sermon implements.  A good sermon applies the text to our lives.  It doesn’t leave us in theory, but connects God’s word to our practical world.  Preacher, answer the question “So what?”  Tell us why we need to know God is the creator.  Tell us why it matters that we understand what grace is.  Move us to action.  Move us to change.  We need to see that God’s word is relevant to our lives.

4.  A good sermon invites.  A good sermon invites us to trust Christ as Savior and to follow Him as Lord.  It invites us on this great journey of faith.  It calls us to decision as it confronts us with the truth.  There is an invitation to something greater and deeper and more real.  Preacher, don’t be satisfied for us to know the truth.  Call us with everything you have to follow the Truth with everything we have.

Excuse me now.  I’ve got to work on my sermon for this weekend.  This needs to be a good one.  Hey, even a pig can grub up a diamond every once in a while!