To the Young Man Who Has Been Asked To Preach for the First Time

I’m really excited and really encouraged to hear that you’ve been given the opportunity to preach this Sunday. And, frankly, I’m not surprised—I’ve seen how seriously you’ve been taking your faith, how faithfully you’ve been committing yourself to the Word, and how you’ve grown in your ability to communicate. Pastors should notice young men who are doing these things. You asked for some quick pointers in preparing your first sermon. Here are a few that come to mind. Be encouraged. …

What’s the Point? (Alternative Ways to Frame Your Sermon)

As a Baptist, I’m plenty accustomed to hearing three-point sermons. As a Baptist preacher, I’m plenty accustomed to preparing and delivering them. But as time goes on and I (hopefully) grow in my ability as a preacher, I find myself trying to avoid the use of the word “point” and to replace it with alternatives that may be more interesting and more effective. I believe it’s important for a sermon to have structure. I believe a three-part structure is often …

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When Christians Just Don’t Read the Bible

A recent study sponsored by LifeWay Research and highlighted by Facts & Trends shares some unfortunate but unsurprising results: “A third of Americans who attend a Protestant church regularly (32%) say they read the Bible personally every day. Around a quarter (27%) say they read it a few times a week.” They divide the results demographically and provide lots more information, but the facts are clear enough: plenty of good, Christian, Bible-believing folk are not spending time in the Word …

How I Prepare a Sermon

I have enjoyed reading articles by various Aussies as they tell how they prepare their weekly sermons. I always find it beneficial to hear how others set about the task and thought I’d add my voice to the mix. The point in this article and the others is not to suggest that one method is superior to any other or to suggest any of them is worthy of total imitation. Rather, it’s to provide a smorgasbord of options other preachers …

Peril on Both Sides

I’m thankful that preachers are increasingly aware of the Bible’s big picture and are preaching accordingly. I’m grateful to see preachers focused on understanding and explaining how the Bible is a cohesive, coherent book, and doing this by exploring the many connections within it. This compares favorably with using the Bible as little more than a collection of isolated proverbs to be hauled out to prove whatever point a preacher wishes to make. But it has been my observation that …

What Makes a Sermon Difficult To Listen To

I am closing in on my forty-third birthday and have been a churchgoer all my life. A bit of simple math shows that I’ve probably listened to somewhere around 4,000 sermons over the course of my life (which undoubtedly means I should have far more knowledge of the Bible than I do and should be far holier than I am!). I’ve also preached a few sermons of my own over the past 10 or 15 years. Recently, and largely for …

How to Encourage that Preacher

While it’s always a joy to be encouraged by others, not all encouragement is created equal. Thinking through the right and best words can make the encouragement greater to both the one offering it and the one receiving it. Having spoken to many preachers and having preached a fair bit myself, I began considering the kind of encouragement that preachers most love to hear. I thought I’d pass them along and provide a brief explanation for each. As you dig …

No Excuses for Preaching Bad Sermons

When I was a teen, I went digging around the attic one day and found my dad’s old camera. Just finding it there sparked an interest in photography and I decided to learn how to use it. I quickly discovered, though, that photography is not easy. At least, in that era it sure wasn’t. I found I had to master the art and science of the exposure and to do that had to learn to use a light meter which, …

Five Great Benefits from Preaching

One of my favorite things to do is to read old (or older, at least) books and to uncover the treasures they so often contain. There is something so challenging and so affirming about digging into a book that is hundreds of years old, yet speaks insightfully to the present day. Recently I’ve been enjoying Holy Helps for a Godly Life by the old Puritan Richard Rogers and have invited people like you to read along with me. Here, as …

Matt Chandler’s Radical Reminder that “God Is For God”

It takes two ingredients to deliver a message that really sticks. It takes the right message and it takes the right time. Matt Chandler’s 2012 sermon “God is For God” is an example of this kind of timely message. When I announced this Great Sermons Series, it did not take long for a whole lot of people to ask for it to be included. So here it is: Matt Chandler’s Radical Reminder that “God Is For God.” This video is brought to …