Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Your Pulpit Can Go Paperless

Dan Martella more from this author »

Healdsburg Seventh-day Adventist Church

Date Published:

When Dan Martella stepped out from his pulpit and simply shared the message from his heart, he discovered something powerful.
Through the years I have admired pastors who can preach without notes. I have marveled at their ability to deliver powerful, heartfelt, life-changing messages without having to be propped up by a stack of papers. Given my personal wiring, I sadly concluded that paperless preaching was forever beyond my reach.
Then one afternoon as I reviewed my sermon notes for the weekend service, I suddenly realized that the message was so well written that I could remember it all—the sequence of introduction, points, stories and applications. The next day when I stepped out of my pulpit and simply shared the message from my heart, something powerful happened—the freedom, the connection with my congregation, the interactivity and the authenticity of the witness shared absolutely hooked me.
Let me share with you 10 points for paperless preaching that have worked well for me since that memorable day five years ago:
1. Start Early—When you have a guest speaker scheduled for your weekend services, use that week to begin work on a new sermon or series of sermons. Study your passage, organize your research and process your thoughts. Then on the Monday morning before preaching that new sermon, start writing. Try to complete the manuscript by Tuesday or Wednesday. Thursday and Friday can then be devoted to internalizing your message so that you are free to preach without notes.
2. Begin With the End in Mind—The decision to preach a sermon without notes needs to be made before the sermon is written, not after. This simple but important step will enable you to think and write in a way that is memorable, both for you and the congregation.
3. Keep It Simple—Operate around a single, central theme. Develop a simple, memorable outline. Craft simple sentence structures. Use no more than five points—You can’t remember more than five points, and neither can your people.
4. Sleep on It—As you drift off to sleep the night before, go through the sermon in your mind. First thing after your wake-up prayer the next morning, stay in bed long enough to go through it again. This is a great way to lock the message into your short-term memory bank.
5. Tell Stories—Jesus’ sermons were memorable because He told so many stories. People love stories, so pack them in. I find that my most effective sermons are 30–40 percent story based. The stories are easy for me to remember and easy for my congregation to remember as I drive a point home.
6. Create a Cheat Sheet—Create a bare bones outline of your message that can fit on a single sheet tucked into your thinline Bible. If you ever get stuck, the trigger points on your cheat sheet will get you going again. Your cheat sheet is also the place to put notable quotes that will need to be read word-for-word.
7. Get the Messenger Ready—Getting the messenger ready is just as important as getting the message ready. Though it all, keep your heart right with God. Go into the worship service well rested and well hydrated. A small high-protein snack may also prove helpful to your adrenaline management while preaching.
8. Relax—When you relax, the inner springs of thought flow with greater freedom. Take a calming walk around the block before the worship service. Retreat to your church office, put the headset on and move through some muscle relaxation exercises. Steady your nerves, whisper a prayer, set your butterflies free to fly in formation.
9. Let It Go—You don’t need to have every little word and every little detail on your manuscript memorized. Just remember the basic ideas and the sequence of materials. Don’t sweat it if you forget a few lines or even a whole section of your message. As long as your message flows well, no one will ever know the difference. Your improved ability to connect with people through paperless preaching will more than compensate forgotten pieces of the message.
10. Go for It—When it comes time to preach, take the leap of faith. Grab the brass bar as it comes flying your way. Your careful preparation and God’s faithful empowerment will hold you secure. Your growing success as a paperless preacher will score appreciative “tens” in the changed lives of those you minister to.

Dan Martella has spent the last 36 years pastoring churches in California, Utah and Massachusetts.  He currently serves as the pastor of the Healdsburg and Cloverdale Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Northern California.  He also serves as the managing editor for Best Practices for Adventist Ministries, a Christian leadership development e-newsletter for pastors and church leaders in the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Source: sermoncentral.com

Editor's Note: there is some lively conversation about this post at sermoncentral.  Personally, I use detailed notes.  My memory isn't good, I like the tight sentence and sermon construction that comes from using notes or a manuscript.  Any thoughts?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

5 Questions BEFORE You Preach

Joel Mayward more from this author »


Date Published:

You've done the prep, you've put in the time. These five questions will finish the job.
I'm preaching in my church's main service this upcoming Sunday, so I've been busy preparing what God would have me say to our church family.
Every time I preach/teach, I keep these five questions before me as a sort of grid to keep my content focused in the right places. These aren't my own questions; I think I stole the basic framework from Bob Hyatt (I honestly can't remember), but over the years I've tweaked and shaped them into my own.

Here are five questions I ask myself as I prepare a message: Where in the message do I ...

1. Clearly Point To Jesus?

Whatever the topic or the passage of Scripture that we're addressing, I strive to preach Jesus every single time.
I tend to lean toward narrative preaching, having been influenced by Eugene Lowry's book, The Homiletical Plot. In the narrative of the sermon, the Gospel message and the person of Jesus tend to be the "climax" of each story, with the whole sermonic narrative leading up to Him.
I strive to share about the Father and Holy Spirit, too, keeping the sermon trinitarian, but the nature of kerygma is to preach Christ and Him crucified.

2. Speak To Christians?

I try to specifically address the Christians listening to the sermon, acknowledging that even if a person has been in church and following Jesus for a long time, the gospel is still good news.
Good news never gets old, and Christians need specific and clear reminders of its goodness.

3. Speak To Non-Christians?

I also try to address people who may be investigating spirituality and Christianity who are not yet followers of Christ, usually with a statement preceded by "if you're just checking out church and this whole Jesus thing, then ... "
This is out of a desire to be inclusive and to recognize/acknowledge that not everyone in a church or youth service knows Jesus yet. I don't have a hidden agenda either. I make my agenda quite clear—I hope they come to know Jesus because He's the source of life and love and joy and grace.

4. Speak To The Heart/Attitude?

This is where Jesus went every time.
While outward actions and behaviors are also valuable, they are only a reflection of the inward heart motivations we carry. If I'm just speaking to behaviors, or only giving application points that are behavioral in nature, I'm missing a huge component of spirituality: the heart, the interior, the desires and affections of the human soul. 

5. Give People Something To Do Immediately?

In harmony with speaking to the heart, I want to also give a clear and defined action step for people to do.
If a person hears a sermon and can walk out the door thinking, "That was nice ... but I have no clue what to do with any of that," then I haven't communicated clearly enough.
There need to be clear pathways on how to respond, whether that's relationally, emotionally or with a particular action. Pray for someone today. Sign up for this class or mission trip. Forgive someone in your heart. Read a passage of Scripture every day this week. Go invite one of your neighbors to dinner or coffee.
Specific, clear and immediate practical steps need to be taken lest we become only hearers of the Word and not doers.

What question resonates with you the most? Pastors and preachers: What questions do you ask yourself when you're preparing to preach?

Joel Mayward
Joel Mayward is a pastor, writer, husband, and father living in Langley, British Columbia. He’s been leading in youth ministry since he graduated from high school in 2003, and is currently the Pastor of Student Ministries at North Langley Community Church. A writer for numerous youth ministry publications and author of Leading Up: Finding Influence in the Church Beyond Role and Experience, Joel writes about youth ministry, film, theology, and leadership at his blog.

Source: SermonCentral.com

In regard to preaching unpopular doctrines, such as election before some audiences, future punishment, depravity, and even missions, before others; one comprehensive rule maybe given, be faithful and fearless, but skillful and affectionate.
John Broadus, On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, p. 25.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Rocket Company would like to sell you their Complete Preaching System for $599.  In addition to the modular learning on the following subjects, you will get video coaching, audio coaching and written coaching. You will also get other materials?  Is it worth it?  For me, $599 is a lot of money and honestly, with as many small churches as there are in America, I don't understand where all the pastors are that buy these service.  I believe that with my shelf of books on preaching, I can cover most, if not all of the topics below, at a fraction of the cost.  I think that I can also get coaching from peers or others for less than $599.  What do you think? ed. 

Module 1: How to Build a Great Sermon
  • How to effectively structure your message
  • How to prepare your sermon with the listener in mind
  • How to structure your weekly schedule so you carve out sufficient time to prepare
Module 2: Sermons That Stick
  • You will learn how to craft a memorable bottom line
  • Crafting a bottom line is summarizing your sermon in a sentence to drive home the Gospel truth in the hearts of your congregation
Module 3: Seeking Feedback and Dealing with Critics
  • You will learn the importance of structured feedback for consistent improvement and how to find it
  • Dealing with criticism in a healthy way can be tricky, so knowing when to say something or not is key
Module 4: A Preaching Calendar Made Easy
  • No matter what your preaching style is, having a clear plan will help you lead people from where they are to where God wants them to be
  • This module will help you plan annually, monthly and weekly
Module 5: Preaching to the Unchurched
  • Your audience includes people at different stages of their spiritual journey and it’s important to prepare with all of them in mind
  • This module focuses on the unchurched people who are possibly giving God and the church one more shot
Module 6: The Crucial First Five Minutes
  • This module will teach you how to connect with people in the first five minutes so you win the right to be heard
  • You will learn the two things you must have in your introduction along with examples of good and bad ones
Module 7: Preaching That Elicits a Response
  • You don’t preach just so people will hear and then do nothing with it
  • This module will help you create simple action steps for people to take when they leave the weekend service
Module 8: Preaching the Gospel
  • You have been called to preach the Gospel, but it’s not always easy
  • You will learn new ways to preach the Gospel in relevant ways people can relate to
Module 9: Becoming a Master of Stories and Illustrations
  • This module will give you tips to involve stories into your message
  • We will teach you how to help people relate your sermon to their lives and engage them
Module 10: How to Create a Preaching Dream Team
  • Two are better than one and so you shouldn’t be preparing alone all the time
  • This module will help you create and effectively use a team of people to preach the Gospel in your church
Module 11: The Greatest Tool in Your Toolbox
  • This module will teach you four steps to improve your preparation process
  • You will learn how to make your preparation process more personal and inspiring for a more meaningful message
Module 12: The Missing Ingredient that will Change Everything
    • We believe your church will only be as healthy as you are
    • In this module, we are going to talk about your emotional and spiritual lives and help you become the healthiest leader for your church

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The number and identity of the women in the resurrection accounts can be difficult to untangle, which is one of the reasons why we provide a glossary in The Final Days of Jesus as a guide. One of the confusing things, for example, is that no less than four of the women share the name Mary: (1) Mary Magdalene; (2) Mary the mother of Jesus; (3) Mary the mother of James and Joses/Joseph; and (4) Mary the wife of Clopas (who may have been the brother of Joseph of Nazareth). In addition, there is Joanna (whose husband, Chuza, was the household manager for Herod Antipas) and Salome (probably the mother of the apostles James and John).

As you preach this Easter, do not bypass the testimony of the women as an incidental detail. In the first century, women were not even eligible to testify in a Jewish court of law. Josephus said that even the witness of multiple women was not acceptable "because of the levity and boldness of their sex." Celsus, the second-century critic of Christianity, mocked the idea of Mary Magdalene as an alleged resurrection witness, referring to her as a "hysterical female … deluded by … sorcery."

This background matters because it points to two crucial truths. First, it is a theological reminder that the kingdom of the Messiah turns the system of the world on its head. In this culture, Jesus radically affirmed the full dignity of women and the vital value of their witness. Second, it is a powerful apologetic reminder of the historical accuracy of the resurrection accounts. If these were "cleverly devised myths" (2 Pet. 1:16, ESV), women would never have been presented as the first eyewitnesses of the risen Christ.

Read it all.

Monday, April 07, 2014

From my article this month at Pastors Today:

Pastors need feedback in order to improve their sermons. But helpful feedback on your sermon is hard to come by.

To fill this need for brutally honest, educated, and constructive feedback, I suggest you start a mid-week sermon feedback meeting.

Every Wednesday several of us on the ministry staff at my church meet in our lead pastor’s office for what we call “Scripture and Sermon”. We spend the first 15 minutes reviewing last Sunday’s sermon: what was strong, what was unclear, where it could have been improved, etc. Over the next 30-45 minutes we dig into the upcoming sermon text together. Question like, “What does the text mean?” “How does the structure lend itself to a sermon outline?” “What is especially pertinent to our context?” “What needs to be illustrated?” guide our conversation.

In my experience, nothing has helped my sermons improve more than this weekly meeting. And I don’t even preach every week.

If you’re a lead or senior pastor, you may be thinking, “Why would I want to subject myself to the criticism of people who are less skilled and less experienced preachers than me?” I’m glad you asked. Here are four reasons.

Read the rest here.

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