Preaching

Here’s an old poem by Edgar Guest that's worth reflecting on, especially for all of us who teach and preach others ... A Sermon I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely show the way. The eye’s a better pupil, and more willing than the ear; Fine counsel is confusing, but example is always clear. So I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do; It is not enough to preach it, you must live the sermon, too. For I may misunderstand you and the high advice you give, But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live. Read more →


Most followers of Christ understand the need to pursue truth and avoid error. Some take it upon themselves to find error and point it out to others. Most churches I know have a statement of faith and their teaching teams speak from this foundation. They believe that the Bible is inspired by God and is authoritative in matters of belief and practice. From time to time, I noticed that one of our teaching team may quote someone in a message and it raises questions from a listener or congregation member. This can lead to some interesting conversations. In one such recent dialogue, I raised three questions: 1. "If a person quotes someone else, does that mean that they endorse everything... Read more →


If God’s objective for every believer is to transform us into total Christlikeness, then the objective of preaching is to motivate people to develop Christlike convictions (to think like Jesus), Christlike character (to feel like Jesus), and Christlike conduct (to act like Jesus). Every other objective of preaching is secondary. At the end of the sermon, if people aren’t being transformed in how they think, feel, and act, I’ve missed the mark as a preacher. To put it another way, the ultimate goal of preaching is not information. In fact, giving people a greater knowledge of the Bible can cause pride to develop in our hearers rather than humility if that information isn’t translated into obedience. And the goal if... Read more →


Believe it or not, Christmas is only four weeks away! For followers of Christ, and especially for those of us who pastor a church or speak from time to time, Christmas presents another excellent opportunity to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ. But how do we share this timeless message in new and fresh ways that capture people’s attention and interest? J John from the UK has put together a variety of resources specially related to the Christmas season. Check out his web site for further details. Of note, is the recent release of the book Proclaiming Christmas, a compilation of Christmas sermons from communicators all around the world. I was privileged to contribute my message from a few... Read more →


Jeremiah is one of my favourite people in the Bible. He was called by God at a young age and was given a tough assignment. He lacked natural confidence but God continually encouraged him. Not everyone liked Jeremiah and he had to endure some extremely difficult circumstances. Yet he remained faithful in bringing God's word and heart to the people he served. Here is God's first message to Jeremiah: The Lord gave me this message: "I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations." "O Sovereign Lord," I said, "I can't speak for you! I'm too young!" The Lord replied, "Don't... Read more →


Preaching God's Word at any time and in any context is always a great privilege and, at the same time, a great responsibility. All of us desire to speak by revelation, to believe for impartation (not just information), and to aim for transformation, as well as a demonstration of the Holy Spirit at work in people's lives. Here are a few thoughts to encourage those who are preparing to speak this weekend. 1. Bathe your preparation in prayer. The best thing that you can bring to people is a quickened and alive word from God. Take time to wait on the Lord and hear His voice. Before you speak, allow God to speak to you. After all, it is the... Read more →


6. Visualise the people you are speaking to As you prepare, think about the different types of people who may listen to your message. This would include unbelievers, new Christians, struggling Christians and mature Christians. It includes people young and old, men and women, single and married, employed and unemployed, rich and poor, as well as students and retirees. Visualise them and their world … and how your message relates to them. 7. Be a vision-caster In many ways, all teaching and communication has an element of vision casting to it. Seek to connect your message to what God is saying to our church at any given moment. Look for different ways to reinforce our vision and our values. 8.... Read more →


Here are a few tips for those of us who communicate God's Word regularly. We need to commit ourselves to developing our God-given gifts and continually seek to be more effective in bringing about change in people's lives. 1. Choose one main BIG Idea for your message It’s better to say one thing well than to present a scattering of many things less effectively. The quantity of information presented does not necessarily equate to the quality of implementation achieved. Sometimes we think that ‘more is better,’ when in actual fact we should ‘teach less for more.’ Have one central topic or idea for your message and deliver it clearly. No single message needs to cover everything that needs to be... Read more →


For anyone who writes or speaks, the task of preparation is part science and part art ... with lots of prayer and perspiration mixed in. Some people think more intuitively. I know one speaker who prepares all of their messages in their head - never writing anything down. Others write out their ideas, sometimes word for word - on paper or by typing into a word processor. I have always used a note pad to scribble down ideas for messages, often creating a bit of a pathway or 'story board' to outline my flow of thoughts and the direction of a message. Then I will type in all the details of my thoughts and research into a WORD document -... Read more →


As of this weekend our church is moving all of our weekend messages online and making them available free of charge. We no longer sell CDs or DVDs. Right now there is a library of about 100 messages available. Click here to visit the library. Messages can be downloaded for listening to either on your computer or your favourite mp3 player. You can also convert them to an audio CD using a program like iTunes.New messages from this weekend onwards should be up on the web site by about Tuesday noon each week. We also have a weekly podcast, which is a single selected message from the above library. This is available directly from our web site or via iTunes.... Read more →


Recently, I read a book by Eugene Lowry called The Homiletical Plot: the Sermon as Narrative Art Form. It was a paradigm-shifting book as it suggests that sermons or messages should be more like stories than like a lecture presenting material in a structured and outlined manner. When Jesus was asked about who a 'neighbour' is, he didn't launch into a three point sermon with an introduction and conclusion. He told a story - a powerful one with the punch line right at the end. Jesus was a brilliant story-teller. In fact, he never spoke without using a story (often called 'parables'). Maybe there is more to learn from Jesus than just the 'content' of our message. He can teach... Read more →


Communicating to Change Lives (Pt.7)

The fifth and final question I ask is … 5. “How will I say it?” [The Method] Be practical. If the goal of preaching is changed lives, then application is the primary task of preaching! Knowledge doesn’t change the world, but action does (Luke 10:37. James 1:22). Interpretation of the Bible (what it means) is not enough. We must bring people to application (what they are to do). Exhortation without application leads to frustration. Jesus came to give life, not just information. Always aim for a specific action (Matthew 28:20). Tell them why – explain the benefits. Show them how. We need far less “ought to” preaching and far more “how to” preaching. “Yes, but how?” People are looking for... Read more →


Communicating to Change Lives (Pt.6)

The fourth question I ask is … 4. “Who is talking?” [The Messenger] This makes me have a good look at myself. In many ways, as a communicator, you are the message. How you speak is very important – your personal style. Your personal style is a combination of your personality and your attitude. This has a big part in determining the impact of your message. The basic elements of communication are message content, body language and voice quality. Communication experts tells us that effective communication is 7% content, 55% body language (things such as eye contact, a smile, gestures, dress, and appropriate movement), and 38% voice quality (things such as appropriate volume, pitch, and vocabulary). When thinking about yourself... Read more →


Communicating to Change Lives (Pt.5)

The third question I ask is … 3. “What will I say?” [The Message] Once you have established your purpose and formulated an objective statement, you are ready to do your research and prepare the content of your message. Purpose first, then content and outline. Ask yourself what the Bible say about this subject or the audience’s needs. We don’t have to make the Bible relevant. It already is! We have to show its relevance by applying it to people’s needs. Gather information on your topic from Bible study, personal experience, and other resources (books, articles, statistics, research, or advice from other people). Think of any illustrations that could support your message. Once you’ve done your research, narrow your ideas... Read more →


Communicating to Change Lives (Pt.4)

The second question I ask is … 2. “What am I trying to say?” [Purpose] Purpose is basic and central in preaching. You need a well-understood, clearly articulated and biblically justifiable purpose for your message. It is on this that you plan and execute everything you do when you preach. Whatever you do in a sermon, you should do consciously and deliberately to achieve some purpose. Everything should have its objective and you ought to know what that is. Your purpose may be to inform, to equip, convince, or to motivate. It addresses what people should learn, believe, disbelieve or do. What do you want them to know or do? If you can't write the objective of your speech in... Read more →


Communicating to Change Lives (Pt.3)

Every time I prepare to speak, I ask myself five questions. Let’s begin with the first question. 1. “Who am I speaking to?” [The Audience] When preparing to speak, I always start with my audience. Who am I speaking to? The first question is not “What do I speak on?” It is “Who am I speaking to and what are their needs?” The goal of teaching is to move people from where they are to where they need to be. Where do we start? Where they are! We should always begin with: the patient, not the medicine; the student, not the curriculum; the customer, not the product; and the audience, not the message. Preachers at times are the only group... Read more →


Communicating to Change Lives (Pt.2)

Jesus was a master communicator and therefore he is our model for preaching to change lives. Jesus was the greatest speaker, teacher and communicator who ever existed. He spoke to large audiences in places like the synagogues, the mountainside, the seaside, and in the streets. He addressed small groups such as the Pharisees who liked to debate him, the disciples who wanted to learn from him, and his friends such as Mary, Martha and Lazarus who conversed with him about their daily needs. He also spent time one-on-one with people like the Samaritan woman and the rich young ruler. Jesus was always prepared and he spoke with authority and confidence. So much so that the people were often amazed at... Read more →


Communicating to Change Lives (Pt.1)

A healthy growing church has good leadership and good teaching. It is well-led and well-fed. There is clear vision and change is occurring in people's lives. Teaching heats up the church’s values. It is like a rudder that steers the church in the right direction. What do you want to see happen in your church? Teach it into existence. Teaching is an important factor in church health and growth. Preaching and communicating the message of Christ is to be a vital part of every church and ministry (see Luke 4:18. Mark 16:15. Acts 2:42. Romans 1:15. 1 Corinthians 9:16. 1 Timothy 4:13. 2 Timothy 4:1-5). Evangelist D.L. Moody once said, “The best way to revive a church is to build... Read more →


Preaching Thoughts from Rob Bell

Last year I took a course on 'Preaching' with Haddon Robinson and Rob Bell, as part of my Doctor of Ministry program with Fuller Theological Seminary. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned so much. There is an entire field of study in preaching and communication and although I’ve spoken thousands of times, I've only given it occasional thought and attention. Yes, I've taken a class or two on preaching, read some books on the topic, and listened to a lot of preachers, but there is so much more to learn about communicating to our contemporary audience from the timeless Word of God and about helping people grow and change. I want to keep learning in this area and help others... Read more →


"Look Mum, No Notes!"

For the last year, I have been speaking my main messages to our church without using notes and without a pulpit to stand behind. This has been a big change for me. I've been speaking for over 20 years now and although there have been a few shorter messages I've given where I haven't used notes, I've usually taken my Bible and 6-10 pages of typed out notes to the pulpit each time I speak. So why the change? As part of a course I did on preaching last year, I was challenged to consider speaking without notes. My instructors noted that when you watch a movie, the actors don't read their scripts. By the time they record the movie,... Read more →


Best Preaching Books

Learning to communicate God's Word in a way that captures people's attention and imparts principles for life change is quite an art. Even after years of hearing many excellent preachers and gaining much preaching experience myself in a variety of settings, I'm still learning. Here is a list of the most helpful books I've read: Communicating for a Change - by Andy Stanley Preaching with Purpose - by J.E. Adams Biblical Preaching - by Haddon Robison How to Speak so Youth Will Listen - by Ken Davis Rick Warren also has an excellent course called ‘Preaching to Change Lives’ which is on CD or DVD with an accompanying manual. Read more →