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My friend Rod Casey recently wrote an article for Preaching Magazine that I thought was really good.  It’s all about considering your audience when you preach. Rod starts out:

Too many preachers fail to ask themselves what every successful fisherman asks. They fail to ask what bait will hook their listeners. Preachers may think that because their seminary training only needed an open Bible and syllabus notes to learn effectively that the same should be true for their learners, as well.

This line of thinking assumes that what was good enough for the preacher’s training in discipleship should be sufficient for everyone else. “My Bible teachers didn’t cater to me, and I learned the material presented just fine,” the preacher may think. This thinking assumes more motivation than is typically true for many who are listening to a sermon. keep reading


John Rinaldo has some great thoughts on successful pastors.  And I heartily agree with him. OK… don’t fly off the handle at me for using the word ‘successful’ and ‘pastor’ in the same sentence. Because I know I have a target on my head for saying that. Don’t read too much into it.  And don’t let it ruin your day. To some pastors… to be successful means to ‘preach the word’. Don’t get me wrong… preaching the word is great.  Awesome, actually.  But while preaching the word is one way (and a very important one) to being faithful (and might I say… successful); it is not the only thing that a pastor needs to be doing to make sure that the church is healthy and moving forward. So… if you’re of the ‘preach the word’ only mindset… please read the following with an open mind.  (Please?) keep reading

The days of preaching someone else’s sermons on the down-low is gone. (Not that any of you all would ever do that). But the level of scrutiny and accountability for your sermon has never been higher. The internet has changed EVERYTHING. And if you take a significant part of your sermon from a source other than yourself… the chances are high… very high actually, that someone will find out.  And if you haven’t given proper annotation somewhere in your sermon or proper credit, it will undermine your integrity. I remember hearing a sermon online that sounded really (really) familiar.  It turned out the sermon I had heard the previous week  was a word-for-word (seriously, word for word) delivery of this very famous pastor’s sermon. Not cool. keep reading

A recent story over at the Christian Post tells about Pastor Allan Edwards, a Presbyterian church pastor from Pennsylvania who recently told his congregation that he deals with homosexual attraction. Here’s how the confession came about, according to Edwards:
“The first question a congregant asked in my interview in front of the whole church was, ‘What is your biggest struggle in life?’ and I shared this part of my story with the church… I preach on issues of sexuality when they come up in the Scripture text that day, but it’s not a hobby horse of mine. I think we all have part of our desires that we choose not to act on, right? So for me, it’s not just that the religion was important to me, but communion with a God who loves me, who accepts me right where I am.”
We hear a lot about ‘transparency’ in the pulpit these days; and with most, I think it’s a good thing over-all. But is it possible to have TOO much transparency, especially in the pulpit? keep reading

Dwight A. Moody, the founder and president of the Academy of Preachers, has been recruiting potential preachers at Samford University and Birmingham-Southern College to take part in an effort aimed at reigniting an interest in preaching. The academy organizes a national festival of preaching each year, summer camps and workshops for aspiring ministers ages 16 to 28, of all denominations. Modern seminary students often seek to work in ministry outside the pulpit, said Moody, former dean of the chapel at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky. “Today half of seminary and divinity school students are women, and very few if any want to preach,” Moody said. “Some believe that preaching is no longer a socially significant vocation. It has lost part of its punch.” From the First Great Awakening through the civil rights movement — from theologian Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” in 1741 to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon in Memphis the night before he was killed in 1968 — preachers have had a resounding influence on U.S. culture. It’s still true to a certain extent, Moody said. “Every week in America, more people hear a sermon than engage in any other communal act,” Moody said. “Preaching still has an important influence.” Moody hopes to improve the quality of preaching in America by attracting top talent to the pulpit. “It’s the Jesus version of ‘American Idol,'” Moody said. “We’re trying to attract talented young people and encourage them to stick to it.” via Academy of Preachers seen as ‘Jesus version of American Idol’ | // I’ve seen some posts in recently that have kind of gone along with this sentiment… that preaching isn’t necessarily the best way to reach people any more. I know many people that hold a very high view of preaching.  Most all of them are preachers. Is preaching something that is foundationally biblical?  I mean, I know that Jesus taught.  After all, we call it the ‘sermon’ on the mount for crying out loud. But most of Jesus’ time was not ‘preaching’ per se, was it? And even Jesus’ ‘preaching’ was NOT done in the context of a church service.  Didn’t it mostly happen spontaneously? We know the early church had elders and leaders.  But did they have ‘preachers’ as we know them today? Most preachers that I know LOVE to preach.  LOVE it.  And most guard their preaching time as closely as they do their first-born son.  Is this good/bad?  Biblical/extra-biblical? What do you think?  

Interesting quote from John Piper.  Agree or disagree? I think the use of video and drama largely is a token of unbelief in the power of preaching. And I think that, to the degree that pastors begin to supplement their preaching with this entertaining spice to help people stay with them and be moved and get helped, it’s going to backfire. It’s going to backfire. It’s going to communicate that preaching is weak, preaching doesn’t save, preaching doesn’t hold, but entertainment does. And we’ll just go further and further. So we don’t do video clips during the sermon. We don’t do skits. What do YOU think? A few of my initial thoughts, (which will probably get me in trouble)… 1.  Preaching DOESN’T save. 2.  Most preaching doesn’t hold attention these days. 3.  Do you think that preaching is the ultimate?  Can God not work without preaching?  Will people not be saved?  Will people not grow without preaching?  Is preaching the ultimate reason we gather on the weekend?  Is it far over and above worship, fellowship, giving, etc.? 4.  Jesus did preach in the NT, but we also see Jesus doing many other things that seemed, at least to him, to be really (really) important. 5.  Piper is right.  I mean… Jesus and Paul never used video clips or skits when they preached. 6.  Jesus was a storyteller.  To say that he would only tell his stories today through spoken word is a stretch, I think. I like John Piper… but I think that he’s kind of putting his type of preaching on a pretty big pedestal, which is fine.  Many pastors do. Don’t get me wrong.  Preaching is important.  But it’s not the be all end all as some would like us to think. At least not in my opinion. OK… take your shots at me.  I’m wearing my armor. 🙂 Todd Here’s the link to the article…

What do you think of this quote:  “Sermon length is not measured in minutes; it is measured in minutes-beyond-interest, in the amount of time the minister continues to preach after he has lost the interest of his hearers.” That’s from a book entitled “Why Johnny Can’t Preach” (by T. David Gordon).  JD Greear shares this quote on his blog recently. Gordon continues:

Some preaching is so bad that the best we can say about some preachers is that they themselves realize it, and are merciful in the length of their sermons (ouch!). By contrast, I’ve heard ministers whose sermons I was disappointed to have come to an end. These entire sermons had been so well delivered–so thoughtful, so faithful to the text without being pedantic… so well-organized as to appear seamless, so challenging and nourishing to my soul–that I just didn’t want the experience to end.”

What do YOU think?  How do you measure the length of your sermons? My 2 cents:  Very few preachers have the communication skills to go over 30 minutes.  Very few.  Unless you’re Andy Stanley, is it really necessary to take 50 minutes to bring home your point?  (I realize this may open a can of worms, but seriously, most sermons would be 100x better if you wacked them in half.  And the thing is… you don’t have to cut that much content… just choose it more wisely.  Am I wrong?) Love to hear your comments… Todd