When You Hear the Dreaded Phrase: Your Sermons Don’t Feed Me

By Gladys Perez-NejudneComments Off

by Luke Geraty

Systematic Theology. Exegesis. Church History. Contextualization.

Liturgy. Pneumatology. Hebrew and Greek. Pastoral counseling.

These are all subjects that most pastors are either familiar with or have taken seminary courses on.

Transitioning from seminary to pastoral ministry is pretty crazy. You go from writing huge papers on how postmodernism challenges the epistemological assumptions of one’s praxis to writing sermons for diverse groups of people that range from being forced to attend to those who have been followers of Jesus for longer than you have been living.

Try crafting a sermon for that type of audience versus your seminary classmates!

After some time, you’ll hit your stride and some experience will help you exegete your audience in a helpful way. You’ll start writing sermons that are Christ exalting and applicable, and people will be really encouraged and challenged by your ministry.

And then you’ll talk to someone who tells you that your preaching doesn’t do anything for them.

Your first instinct will be to either punch them in the face, laugh nervously, cry or quit.

If you are wise, you’ll remember James 1:19 and will do your best to listen, be slow to respond and slow to anger. Of course, the vision of choking that person out may be tempting, so it needs to be constrained by the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

Over the years, I’ve heard this statement a couple of times and I’ve talked to a lot of other pastors who have also heard this or similar statements.

Here are three observations I have about people who say these things:

1. You need to understand how to properly evaluate whether or not your sermons are “feeding the sheep.” 

I fear that some pastors are more concerned with keeping their congregations happy than with keeping their congregations fed. But most of the pastors that I know are very concerned with being faithful in what they teach/preach.

Yet there’s something very peculiar about how devastating one person’s criticism can be! We will actually take that one person’s opinion and elevate it above and beyond the dozens or even hundreds of other people who think differently.

After encountering the “you-don’t-feed-me” person, you may even find yourself canceling sermon plans you’ve had and jumping to the conclusion that you need to preach totally differently than what you’ve been doing. After all, someone told you that you aren’t feeding them!

It isn’t necessarily wrong to consider making changes, but your concerns should primarily be in regards to how God feels about the matter. Are you talking about the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27)? Are you faithfully preaching the word (2 Tim. 4:2)? Is your preaching focused on exalting Christ, clarifying the gospel and helping form the spiritual lives of those you serve? Questions like these are far more important.

So, should you do a series that addresses marriage and serves the majority of your congregation, or do a series on the “deeper” things of God like the “revelation of God’s seven spirits and how this all proves both the pretribulational rapture and young earth creationism.”

While the former may not meet everyone’s alleged needs (though it’ll meet most), the latter is a complete waste of your time. Yes, I did just say that a sermon on the seven spirits of God proving the pretribulational rapture and young earth creationism is vastly inferior in comparison to doing a sermon on what God has to say about marriage.

2. What people often want you to “feed” them is simply a way for them to reinforce their stereotypes and bad theology. 

I’m not kidding about this one. As I already alluded, those who talk about not being fed will generally give you ideas of what would feed them.

In my experience, these suggestions are generally not related to primary doctrinal subjects (e.g., Christology, the gospel, missions) or the “main and the plain.” Most of the time, these requests for “depth” are on things so speculative that you won’t find any theologians throughout the history of the church who have addressed them!

Of course, the kind of person that says “your sermons don’t feed me” has zero time for church history, and believes that the reason why no one has talked about their favorite subject is simply because no one in the history of the church has been either smart enough or spiritual enough to know those things.

Oh, and by the way, you are obviously not smart enough or spiritual enough to know about it either, which is why they are informing you that you haven’t “fed” them.

Pay close attention here.

What these people often want is for you to reinforce what they already believe, no matter how disconnected from life or how unbiblical their beliefs are.

I had a person once tell me that they wanted me to do sermons on why Christians using Christmas trees was sinful idol worship!!! The fact that they were mishandling Scripture to “prove” this novel position didn’t matter to them at all. But when I couldn’t agree with their horrific eisogesis of Jeremiah 10:2-4, they left our church with no discussion and response to the questions I had.

After all, I wasn’t into “depth.”

3. The person who says they get nothing from a sermon is likely a prideful person. 

Pride is almost always the sine qua non of this statement. In other words, without pride, people rarely say that they aren’t getting anything out of a sermon.

I say almost and rarely because I will acknowledge that there are some preachers out there that could stand to be better teachers and spend more time in preparation or be aware of the needs of their congregation. But by and large, the statement that someone isn’t getting anything from your sermons is a sign of pride.

If you are publicly reading portions of Scripture à la 1 Tim. 4:13 and preaching Christ à la Rom. 16:25, there’s something for people to be encouraged by and learn from.

In my experience, 99.9 percent of the time, this statement is being made by someone who is unteachable.

So you need to be aware of the fact that all of the discussion and attempts to evaluate your teaching and ministry are almost always a waste of time simply because the person assumes they know more than you and are more spiritual than you. So it’s fruitless.

Except for when it isn’t, ha ha!

Preaching

Power of Positive Preacher Part 1

By Gladys Perez-NejudneComments Off

Power of Positive Preacher Part 1
 
by Thomas Garrity
 
What is the “Power” of a preacher?
What is being positive?
What is a preacher?
All three of these questions are important to know, however let us go through them one at a time. The hope is that we will all learn what is needed to learn in getting the answers.
 
First we must remember where we are to look in learning what is right.
 
“2Ti 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2Ti 3:17 “That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”.
 
Within these words from God you will find the answers to all three questions above.But let us work out the Power first. We should know that God gives mankind power example to use: John 19:10 “Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me(talking to Jesus)? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee”?
 
“John 19:11 “Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above:”
 
So now we understand where power comes from, then what is this Power of a positive preacher? The answer is both simple and from GOD. The first thing a preacher becomes is a doer, the second is a hearer or vice versa. Example:Jas 1:23 “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:” Jas 1:24 “For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” Point in case, when a pastor who not only hears but also does will be living out the POWER that GOD gives. Think of it like this, God inspires ALL scriptures that makes them profitable and their for MAKING the man of God perfect unto What? ALL GOOD WORKS.
 
The Truth is that if your preacher is living out what he is preaching out, you will see a move on people due to the POWER that GOD gives for the preachers obedience. The other side to this Truth is, if you have a preacher only doing one out of the two requirements you will find him saying “do as i say not as i do” or the other will do everything, not allowing GOD’s power to do “all good works” for your life. This is one reason why I myself study to shew myself approved. 2Ti 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
 
If i leave my studies in the hands of a preacher that doesn’t (hear and do) then who is leading him and me?
 
God gives mankind knowledge, wisdom and understanding right? Pro 2:6 “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” OK then. Now instruction in righteousness also come from GOD as we have learned here. Therefore God has given the power to the saints for the ministries Eph 4:11 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;” Eph 4:12 “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”
 
All these listed in verse 11 are doers of the word not hearers only. When a preacher hears from God and acts on it he is fulfilling verse 12. Which is, helping others to become (perfecting of the saints), growing people to do the ministry (work) and also acknowledging GOD to be GOD (edifying of the body of Christ). There is Power in a positive preacher! So now i hope you have a better understanding of the POWER of a preacher.
 
All scripture is quoted KJV

Preaching

Sermon Symmetry

By DrBillComments Off

Symmetry is a description of how you write your Main Points.  “Symmetry” means “balanced proportions”.  If your sermon displays symmetry, it’s main points will be balanced and proportionate.  That is, each main point will seem to have an equal and valuable relationship with all of the other main points.  No main point will dominate, either in terms of importance, impact, or the amount of time you spend on it.butterfly

The three main benefits of sermon symmetry are:

1.  Understandable

Main Points with symmetry, make your sermon easy to follow and understand.

2.  Memorable

It is easy to remember a sermon with has symmetry flow.  I’m writing this blog from memory, based on the sermon symmetry I heard last night.

3.  Beautiful

Main Points with symmetry, are a thing of beauty.  (Note how the three points of this blog also display symmetry.)

Sermon Example:  Take a look at this sermon which I just listened to last night from Dr. John Crocker at Crossroads Church in Albert Lea, MN:

He was speaking on 2 Peter 1:1-12.  His mains were:

  1. Establish Your Identity  (2 Peter 1:1-4)
  2. Exercise Your Responsibility  (2 Peter 1:5-8)
  3. Erase Your Uncertainty  (2 Peter 1:9-12)

This sermon contains symmetry.  Each main is a command verb (Establish, Exercise, Erase). Each main begins with the letter “E”.  Each main is focused on You.  Each key word at the end has a symmetry as well, with each one ending with a “-ty” ending.

This is not just word play.  This gives a sermon memorable power and greater impact in people’s lives.

Yours for better preaching,

Dr. Bill

SermonBase.com

HighPowerResources.com

Preaching, Sermon Tips, Sermons

Preaching 101

By Gladys Perez-NejudneComments Off

Preaching 101
 
by Charles Robey
 
“No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier”. ( 2 Timothy 2:4)
 
On Sunday morning, as you attentively listen to that elaborate sermon, what are you hearing from your pulpit ? Is it a true message inspired by God’s Holy Spirit ?( 2 Timothy 2:24) Or is it a well articulated ” nursery rhyme” explanation ? ( 2 Timothy 2:16-19) You see, “Mary had a little lamb” makes for good childhood comprehension , but it won’t saved a single person. Just don’t turn the sermon into an Aesop’s Fable”.
 
Is the preaching all about the “full gospel” ( 1 Cor 15:1-4) ? Is it all about God’s “free grace” ? ( Ephesians 2:8-9) Is it that all men are “born sinners” and in need of a Savior, because of their inbred sin, due to the original fall of man ? ( Psalm 51:5) ( Romans 5:12)
 
Basically, there are three type sermons- 1)Expository, 2) Textual, 3) Topical.
 
The “Expository” Sermon explains a certain thought theme, backed up by scripture. This form of sermon is used to teach through any given book of the Bible, which often times makes for a rather lengthy single presentation.
 
The ” Textual” Sermon is usually developed around a single verse of scripture text, backed up my other related scripture verses. This form of sermon is generally good for audiences with a short attention span, such as children or elderly parishioners.
 
The “Topical Sermon is developed from a certain topic that the preacher chooses such as prayer, holiness, separation, love, Christian priorities, etc. This type sermon requires the preacher to have an overall knowledge of the Bible and an ability to associate related passages from different parts of the Bible.
 
These three different preaching styles are often times labeled as:1)Topical- Preaching about the Bible. 2) Textural- Preaching from the Bible. 3) Expository- Preaching the Bible.
 
Regardless of the preaching format used- the main point- did it come from God by way of His Holy Spirit ? ( 2 Cor 3:16-18) If the preacher faithfully considers God’s principles and builds his points to match these teachings then he is preaching the Bible.
 
So what should be preached? The Apostle Paul covered this subject, rather well, in just one verse of scripture ( 2 Timothy 4:2) , preaching the full council of God.
 
Does your pastor preach the “full council” of God? God’s complete revelation should be taught, by leaving nothing out that is primary to the doctrines of God. By preaching the “full council of God”, the congregation is better equipped to understand the Bible more intelligently and comprehensively.
 
A pastor may not be the most elaborate speaker ( 1 Cor 2:1-8), but if he is true to the Word and preaches the true attributes or doctrines of God, he will mightily be used of God. ( 1 Cor 1:27-29) I must admit, some preachers just had the gift of putting me to sleep. May God forgive me for this mind-set.
 
The scripture is plain in stating that the basic evangelistic message will not be understood by unsaved mankind . ( 1 Cor 1:18) Some pastors seem to have falsely taken this scripture serious by doing away with the modern day approach to the after sermon invitations. “That’s why we need more “Billy Graham’s” , in our pulpits to explain ” God’s Plan of Salvation”. General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, would never close a service, be it a church service, a wedding or a funeral, without giving an invitation.
 
So, what has happened to “preaching salvation” and our “church alters” ? Just call me a “dinosaur” but I still hold to that “Old Time religion” preaching. I can’t help but ponder those old “brush-arbor” revival meetings where the “Amen’s” and the “Hallelujah’s” echoed, as the spirit led. Yes, the gospel has always been the gospel
 
Should “Holiness” be preached? After all, if Jesus counted the Cross joy ( Hebrews 12:2), surely we can endure our own smaller sacrifices for the same reason. That reason being to live a “Holy Life”. Church members will practice holiness, only if they have a clear understand of what holiness is all about. So, it should be preached, motivated and put into action, by surrendering to God’s will. You see, it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified. ( 1 Thess 5:23)After all, the Church was founded on ” Holiness”. ( Acts 1:8) ( Acts 2:4)
 
One sensitive topic, of which preachers often times shy away, is politics. Especially, in this modern day life style, in which we seem to be headed. However, if one preaches “against sin and for holiness”, this topic will be well represented, in the positive. ( Romans 12:2) You see, we should resist the ways of the world whenever they contradict gospel standards. In other words, just don’t be squeezed into today’s evil mold.( Romans 1:28) Instead we should mold our life after the model Of Christ Jesus. ( Philippians 1:21). Yes, there is a way of escape. ( 1 Cor 6:8-11)
 
From the beginning of the early church, upward until now, certain pastors have always served God out of love, while others have always preached Christ through envy and strife and even out of a selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives. ( Philippians 1:15-17) However, like the Apostle Paul’s example, preachers should always serve God with a clear conscience. ( 2 Timothy 1:3)
 
The pulpit should never be used to “beat up” on any one splinter group or parishioner. You see, the church gets enough of this sort of false gospel from Mr. Satan himself. ( Revelation 12:10) Enough said on the subject.
 
So, this attitude towards fellow parishioners, is nothing new. This dissertation, given by the Apostle Paul, leads me to ponder if a message given by an ulterior motive or taught by an unbelieving pastor (Jeremiah17:9 ) can meet the mark of changing one’s life style for God. I think yes, as long as God’s Word is presented in its correct context. ( Hebrews 4:12-16) God has always meant what he says, and what He says goes. His powerful Word is sharp than a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Holy Word.
 
How long should the pastor stay behind the pulpit ? The short answer, as long as it takes to cover the passage adequately! ( Psalm 25:5) The important thing is to stick to the subject and cover the main point so that people are convinced of its truth and comprehend its requirements. Enter, God’s Holy Spirit.( John 16:13)
 
Back in the 80’s and 90’s, Domino’s Pizza had a guarantee on pizza delivery that stated, ” If you don’t get your pizza within thirty minutes, it’s free”. Domino’s discontinued the guarantee when drivers were having too many car accidents trying to make the half hour deadline. Sometimes I think churches should have a similar guarantee: If the sermon doesn’t measure up to one’s fancy, and goes over a half hour, you get your tithe back. I kid, of course Just a little “Holy Levity”.
 
In conclusion, hopefully your pastor is still preaching that “old time religion”, the gospel presented pure and simple in a pure and simple setting. In our modern day language, it’ s people going to church and putting their watches in their pockets, not being in a hurry to make it home in time for the big game on TV, or to beat it to the restaurant, or stretch out on the couch, and take a good snooze. ( Romans 9:16) .
 
“may “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” ( 2 Cor 13:14)
 
Author’ Post Script
 
Evidently, it must be easy for a person to preach himself instead of Christ. ( 2 Cor 5:15) It seems that the modern pulpit makes this even easier to do. Being a place for public oratory, the pulpit practically demands that those who enter its precincts bring forth a sermon type speech in the style suitable for a public show. The church of today must avoid the ” Bully Pulpit” cliché at all cost. ( Hebrews 5:14) The main purpose has been and always will be, to grow the “saints” ( Colossians 1:9-10) ( 2 Peter 3:18) , and get the “unsaved” regenerated to God the Father, through Christ Jesus. ( Isaiah 55:11) ( Romans 1:16)

Preaching

Sermon Tip: Focus

By DrBillComments Off

laser beam

Laser or light bulb?

Some preachers only kind-of, sort-of, know what they want to say when they get in the pulpit.  And by that I am not saying that they don’t have a manuscript or notes.  What I mean by FOCUS is, has the message captured your heart?  Has God gripped your soul with what you want to say today to God’s people in God’s name?  Focus is when the Big Idea (the Proposition; the Sermon in a Sentence) has gripped your soul and it won’t let you go, until you let it out.

If the message has gripped your soul, you will have Focus.   When you have Focus, you have a powerful message.

What is the result of having Focus to your sermon?

1.  People will feel the power of your message upon THEIR hearts.

They will be gripped by it as well, and they will focus on you.  This is important.  I sit at the back of church when I am not preaching, and I see how the people at the back are really easily distracted.  It takes a powerful message with a strong focus to capture and keep their attention.  The further they sit from the pulpit, the more the Focus is important to maintain their attention.

2.  Your message will be delivered to their hearts like a laser, and not like a soft-white diffused fluorescent bulb.

People will feel like God is speaking to them about something specific.  God’s application is always very specific.  A focused message helps to deliver God’s truth into people’s hearts.

3.  Every point in your message will supplement your main point and sharpen the focus.

The Mains will sharpen, clarify, and strengthen what you have to say.  They will sharpen the Focus, not soften it.

How do you know if you don’t have Focus in your sermon?

1.  You will ramble!

If you don’t have anything specific to say, then, just about anything will do.  Rambling generalities never changed anyone’s life.

2.  You will try to make too many applications.

When a preacher is not sure of what s/he has to say, they often pull out the easy applications and start hitting people about the same old sins.  But Focus helps a sermon to point to one specific life change which God’s Word is calling them to do.

3.  You will lack passion.

The people will sense it, and you will feel it.  The right words may come out, but not with the same punch or power.  Focus adds passion.

How to get Focus in your sermon:

This is the tough part.  How can you make sure that week in and week out, you have clear Focus?  You need to have clearly written goals for your sermon.  I use SermonBase Message Planning Software® to help me frame up my goals for every single message.  I determine the main goal for the entire message.  (And please note, that this is NOT the same as the Big Idea or Proposition.)  Then I determine three sub-goals: Intellectual, Emotional, and Behavioral.  Asking these questions helps me to sharpen the Focus of my message.

Hope that helps!

Here’s to good preaching that grab’s people’s hearts in the name of Jesus!

Dr. Bill

SermonBase.com

HighPower Resources.com

General, Preaching, Sermon Tips

How to Prepare a Sermon: Part 1, Praying about Your Sermon

By DrBillComments Off

Do you pray for your sermon?praying hands

If so, about what do you pray?  Do you ask God to give you wisdom on topic selection? Do you ask Him to use your sermon in the lives of your listeners? Do you pray that you won’t mess up?  Where does prayer for the sermon fit in your weekly sermon preparation?

The fact is that if we are engaged in a spiritual enterprise, then we need spiritual power. So the process of writing your sermon should have focused prayer built right into it, just as much as other factors in sermon preparation, like researching the text, or writing the introduction.  So where and how does prayer fit in our sermon preparation plans?  “Oh, I pray all the time.”  Do you? But how, specifically is that prayer directly focused upon your sermon for the week.

I would love to hear your answers as to how you pray for, about, and in prep for your sermon. Leave a comment if you please.

Here are my thoughts on this topic:

  • Pray for wisdom on sermon text & topic selection, before you begin (whether that is Monday morning, or sooner if you plan ahead, or use a great sermon planning tool like SermonBase Message Planning Software.
  • Pray through the text as you read and prepare that God would speak to YOU in the text. That will lend lots of power and focus to your message.
  • Pray for the audience you will be speaking to, that their hearts will be receptive to God’s Word.
  • Pray for yourself in terms of your presentation that you will not detract from the message which God has for the audience.

So there are four areas of prayer for your sermon prep week. Hope that helps. God’s best to you this week as you step into the pulpit!

Yours for Great Preaching!

Dr. Bill Miller

SermonBase.com

HighPowerResources.com

Preaching, Sermon Preparation

How To Prepare A Sermon: Part 8, Write the Conclusion

By DrBillComments Off

Hey Up-and-Coming Preachers!

We are working on our ten-part series on How to Prepare a Sermon.  We’ve already given you all ten steps of sermon preparation, and Part 1, Praying about your Sermon; Part 2, Textual vs. Topical; Part 3,Study the Passage; Part 4, Read the Commentaries; Part 5, Arrive at the Proposition; Part 6, Develop the Mains; Part 7, Provide Supporting Material, and today, Part 8, “Write the Conclusion”.

WRITE THE CONCLUSIONbullseye

This is where you want to take it home. The conclusion must be powerful, personal, and memorable. This is where you touch the heart.

Now, please note that writing the Conclusion, actually comes before writing the Introduction. (We cover writing the Introduction in Part 9.) Why does the Conclusion get written before the Introduction? Because it is at the Conclusion that you bring the full force of the intent of your sermon into play. You have written your sermon, and worked on the goals (especially if you have SermonBase Message Planning Software), and now as you come to the Conclusion you want to provide the final application to people’s lives.  You need to know what that application is before you begin writing the Introduction to your sermon. If so, then you will be able to find an interesting story for your Intro which highlights the application you intend to bring in the Conclusion. So the Conclusion must come first.

The Conclusion to your message must be Powerful, Personal, and Memorable.  Let’s look at each of these:

POWERFUL

The Conclusion must touch the heart. It needs to punch through the final last gasping breaths of resistance which any heart still might be holding out against the demands of God’s Holy Word. The Conclusion is your chance to grab their heart and to have them bow in submission to the Lord Jesus Christ in their life. It is in the Conclusion that you seek to help “every knee to bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”. So it must be Powerful. This power can be communicated through many means. It could be the volume of your voice; it could be the passionate intensity of your demeanor; it could be the unique vocabulary reserved for the Conclusion; it could be a heart-touching illustration, or an example from your own life. There are many different means to power up your message at this point, and it should vary from week to week. But you need to use the Conclusion to express to every listener just how important this message is to their lives. The Conclusion must be powerful.

PERSONAL

While most of the sermon may be about Biblical history, characters, theology, truth, principles, etc., the Conclusion is eminently personal. In the Conclusion, you should be using the word “you” a lot. You should be talking to each person individually and personally. They must feel that you are addressing them individually as though no one else were in the room. They need to hear the voice of God through your voice during the Conclusion. It is here that you express to them your loving care and concern for them; that they would make the right choice; that they would get their life together; that they would experience the joy of obedience or walking with the Lord. The Conclusion must be personal.

MEMORABLE

If there is anything you want them to take home with them when this sermon is over, then include it in the Conclusion. You want the listeners to remember what you have said. Most Conclusions, then, will include a summary of your Main Points. It will also often include a restatement of your Proposition. You may have a memorable story to include in the Conclusion, if it brings the main idea home, and doesn’t distract. You as the preacher need to remember that when you say your final “Amen” for that service, that people will switch over to their next activity for Sunday, or start planning their week, or whatever. Your sermon needs to be Memorable so that it can break through that clutter throughout the week, with the powerful Word of God. Just as a side note, this is why I do not have our weekly announcements after the sermon. Some churches move the announcements to the end of the service, but in my mind, that absolutely destroys the entire intention of the sermon. Why would I work all week to bring a memorable word from God, and then immediately after having delivered it, to distract them with some other announcements about this or that church event?

The Conclusion is an important part of your message, and it should be planned out carefully. It must summarize and concentrate the entire content of your sermon in one final, powerful, personal, memorable punch. Note please, that the Conclusion is not the place to introduce any new material. Do not distract from the main proposition and mains of your sermon at this point. Be sure to focus and apply what you have already said, not to introduce an entirely new concept or idea. Anything you share in your Conclusion, should already be either directly or indirectly referenced in the rest of your sermon.

Once your Conclusion is written, you can then get to work on the Introduction, which will be the focus of our next part.

Yours for Great Preaching!

Dr. Bill Miller

SermonBase.com

HighPowerResources.com

General, Sermon Preparation

Understanding the role of leaders in the church

By Gladys Perez-NejudneComments Off

by Janice S Ramkissoon

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Matthew 28:19-20

 

In part one I shared how I became a slave to anger. Understanding why I became angry towards some leaders, I needed to know what God had to say about the matter, and not just allow my feelings to rule my actions. I searched the Scriptures for answers and as I am being taught by His word, it diffuses the anger. I then try to pass on the lessons I have learned with the people in my life, using the gifts that God has given me. Instead of getting upset about things not being in order, I asked God to teach me how to use my gifts to help in this area of teaching. Instead of speaking, I write and allow the Holy Spirit to do the work that only He can do. Whenever, I am required to speak, I believe the Holy Spirit will give me the utterance to boldly speak the truth, in love. In this article I look at the ‘Great Commission’ as a starting point:

Building up God’s Kingdom

From Matthew 28:1920, we are given instruction on how to continue building God’s Kingdom.  Jesus instructed His disciples to go and teach. Once the teaching is done, the natural progression for those who have responded to the good news of the gospel (having accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour and have been baptized) is to continue on a learning path; growing in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Unless the teaching takes place, they will remain babes in Christ and that is when the enemy will entangle them again with the yoke of bondage, the very thing we are warned against in Galatians 5:1. They must be taught so that they can each become a disciple of Christ; living a life that reflects Christ in words and deeds. We see this particular commandment being carried out in the book of Acts.

Part 1 of the ‘Great Commission’

—Go Teach all Nations—

In Acts chapter 2, after receiving the Holy Spirit as Jesus had promised, the disciples were given the opportunity to speak to the crowd about God. Then in answer to the doubting crowd, who thought that the disciples were drunk, Peter was given the opportunity to preach the gospel and present the people with the opportunity to repent of their sins and be baptized. That was fulfilling the first part of the commandment to ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…’ We see this played out in Acts chapter two, shortly after Jesus ascended to heaven.  Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Later in chapter three, Peter was given another opportunity to preach to the crowd, after the miracle, of healing a lame man, had taken place. Acts 3:19-21, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you, whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

Part 2 of the ‘Great Commission’

—Baptize them—

The fulfilling of the second part of that command is highlighted in Acts 2:41: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Peter was obedient in following Jesus’ instructions to teach the people then baptize those who repented of their sins and accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour.  This also ties up with the personal command given to Peter in St. John 21:15-22.  In that passage of Scripture, Jesus told Peter to feed:

  1. My lambs (babes in Christ)
  2. My sheep (those who are somewhere between feeding on milk and eating hard food)
  3. My sheep (those who are more mature in the knowledge of Christ. This suggest to me that we are never finished learning. Therefore, as the leaders teach they too will continue on the path of learning)

Then Peter was told, “Follow me.” This verse (19) suggests to me that we should never try to do it in our own will but always follow Jesus’ leading. It is the work of Christ that we do, not our own.  We belong to Him and must follow His instructions as He is the Master.  When we see ourselves in the light of servants or slaves, even though He calls us friend (see St. John 15), we will begin to understand our position within this relationship and know that there is only one way to respond to His commands. If you call Him Lord you cannot say no to His instructions.  Saying ‘No’ means you make yourself Lord and do according to your own will, effectively giving Satan control of your life and putting those under your leadership at risk. This constitutes disobedience and you will then give up your right to teach the flock to follow God’s commands, according to the third part of the ‘Great Commission’. My encouragement to you, therefore, is to continue studying the word of God, according to 2nd Tim 2:15, so that you will know how to lead His people. 

Part 3 of the Great Commission

—Teach Them to Observe My Commandments—

The final part of the command, “Teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever, I have commanded you…”, was carried out by the apostles and is evident from what is reported in Acts 2:42-47.  It was reported that they continued steadfastly, in the apostles’ doctrines and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers, praising God and having favour with all the people. Souls were also being added daily to the church. That means there would have been some form of regular gathering to teach the people what God required of them. They were new born babes in Christ and would not have been familiar with the teachings the disciples received or the customs of the disciples and so they would have had to learn about what it means to come together and fellowship one with another.  They would have had the need to understand what it meant to pray, when and how to pray. The disciples were already taught by Jesus and they had the responsibility to pass on that teaching to the new converts.  

How do we Teach New Converts Today?

Well, it was during a crusade that I gave my life to Christ.  Therefore, my church leaders were being obedient in preaching the gospel so that I would have an opportunity to give my life to Christ. I grew up attending the same church for all my life up to that point.  That meant that I had experienced many crusades prior to that date.  Like Peter spoke to that crowd, the speaker of the night spoke to the crowd I was in.  I was one of those people within that crowd who received the message and responded to the altar call. That night I knelt and prayed at the altar.  When I got up I was led by one of the leaders to the vestry where the pastor came to speak with us and invited us to attend a ‘New Converts’ class.  I believe it was a six week programme where the pastor, along with one of the deacons sat with us and explained what it meant to be a follower of Christ. They helped us to understand the decision we had made and how it would affect the rest of our lives.  We were then invited to attend a series of Bible study, designed for new converts, leading up to the week we would be baptized.  We then had the opportunity to commit to the process by making that step into watery baptism.

Once we were baptized, we were invited to attend the regular weekly Bible Study.  Later, our pastor also ran a six week evangelism training session. Throughout the length of the training he paired us up with the more mature believers and sent us out into the community.  Each team would have two or three houses to visit. In those houses were people who had stopped having fellowship with the saints.  We watched the more mature believers in action as they witness to individuals on the street, on their way to those selected homes.  We then watched the way they embraced and ministered to their brothers and sisters who had allowed the cares of the world to draw them from their first love.  It was beautiful seeing that expression of love as the saints encouraged the people, they once shared the Lord’s supper with, to return to the fold.  We had the theory as well as the practical lessons. Our church also had a day dedicated to prayer each week and a day dedicated to ‘fasting and praying’ once per month.  I would attend the prayer meeting each week with one or both grandparents.  The fasting session was during the day so I could only attend during the school holidays but it was still an investment into my Christian walk.

I was a teen when I gave my life to Christ so I had a double portion of Bible lessons as we also had our youth group’s version of Bible study with ‘Bible Drills’ as we studied for our annual debate and Bible Quiz. We also had many different ways to learn more about God and what He requires of us through studying selected parts of the bible for our annual Sunday school exams. For the annual church fund-raising concert, we were allowed to show how we understood the lessons we had learned in Sunday school or youth group by writing plays and poems to share with the saints on the night.  That was great for us as new born babes in Christ because it would force us to ask questions that would widen our understanding.

Teaching Babes in Christ:

When a mother gives birth she does not expect the baby to start eating without being fed, neither does she expect the baby to start walking the following day or changing its own nappy.  Likewise, new-born babes in Christ expect to be fed the Word of God which will help them to grow, spiritually. They will not automatically begin to do all that is expected of them as believers, overnight.  It will take a lot of teaching by the spoken word, through various ministry groups within as well as outside the fellowship and by the example set before them.  This become a more difficult task for leaders who are thrown in the deep end, with no understanding of what God expects from them or practical examples of how to handle conflict.  This can leave them feeling ill-prepared for the task before them which decreases their confidence to operate effectively in their leadership role.

To experience the kind of result Peter experienced, leaders must first learn the art of obedience. They must daily surrender to the will of God.  At the beginning of the book of Acts, we are told that 120 people, including the 11 disciples and Mary, the mother of Jesus, experienced the out pouring of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus had promised them in chapter 1:8 that they “…Shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” And that was fulfilled in Acts 2:1-11.  There were men of all nations dwelling in Jerusalem (see verse 5).  The disciples were all Galileans, yet every man heard them speak in his own language. Fear had leapt out of the disciples and they were able to come out and speak to the people; being witnesses for Christ.  The boldness received was even more evident as Peter preached to the crowd.  Their obedience in tarrying until the Holy Spirit came was what brought the result we read about in that chapter.  Over 3000 people were added to the 120, all of whom needed to be taught the teachings of Jesus.

That’s the beauty of teaching, we don’t keep it to ourselves, we share the knowledge with others; they then share with others and the Kingdom continues to grow.

Preaching

The Big Idea

By DrBillComments Off

HI All,lightbulb

The Big Idea of the sermon is technically called “the Proposition”.  It is a summary of your entire sermon in one sentence.  Some call it “the sermon in a sentence.”

Getting accurate on the Proposition is the most important step you can do as you begin work on your sermon.  Accurately capturing all you have to say in a single sentence will propel you forward to a successful sermon.  Arriving at the Proposition can be some of the hardest work you do in your sermon preparation.  It may take a couple of days to really nail it; you may have to precede it first with exegetical study of the passage, and an understanding of the culture into which the passage speaks.

But once you have the Big Idea, the Proposition, the Sermon in a Sentence, you are almost half-way there!

A finely crafted Proposition can deliver a powerful punch.

Sermon Example:  Ezekiel 18:1 – 30

This is a very long passage and argument from the Lord God to the people of Israel.  It is difficult enough to explain to adults, but what about mid-schoolers?  How would you explain this passage to teens, ages 12-14??  Nathan Miller of Brooklyn Park EFC taught this passage to just such an age group by really nailing the sermon in a sentence.  Here’s his Proposition, Big Idea, or Sermon in a Sentence for Ezekiel 18:

“Your soul is your responsibility.”

That captures it really well.

Once you have the Proposition, you are on your way to putting together a good sermon. Work hard at it, and you – but especially your people – will be rewarded.

For great preaching,

Dr. Bill

SermonBase.com

HighPowerResources.com

Preaching, Proposition, Sermon Preparation, Sermon Tips
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