Some thoughts on preaching

As a listener, you might wonder why you should know what it takes for preaching to be what it should be. You are, after all, the listener, not the speaker. Yet it is worth noting that when Paul warned about a falling away he placed some of the blame on those who listen: “people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:4).

Observe the drift from faithfulness to faithlessness: “People will not endure sound teaching” (that’s you, the listener). “But having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their passions … and will turn away from listening to the truth.” At some point, the truth will no longer matter, only that which feeds our desires. And, finally, their drift will be complete: “And wander off into myths.” Continue reading “Some thoughts on preaching”

What members wished that preachers knew about members

In the interest of fairness, I follow last week‘s article on what preachers wished their members knew about them with the inverse, what members would like preachers to know about them.

In this list, I will not include demands that are either selfish or unspiritual. Demanding that a church be all about serving “me” is not a legitimate demand to make on the preacher. Demands to do unbiblical things are neither legitimate nor fair. And yet there are some things that preachers should know about their members. Continue reading “What members wished that preachers knew about members”

What preachers wish congregations knew about preachers

He stands in the pulpit every Sunday. He must be deeply spiritual. Never has any doubts, never feels discouraged, because he is a spiritual leader, right?

Well, you might be surprised to find that your preacher is human. Have you ever wondered what he wished you knew, but was afraid to tell you? Continue reading “What preachers wish congregations knew about preachers”

True north: finding a reliable path forward

A compass points toward the earth’s magnetic north. However, the true geographic north pole lies several hundreds of miles away.

Kenny, a friend of mine, recently told me about an international trip where his flight passed between the North Pole and magnetic north. At such a place, if someone were to use a compass to locate the geographic north pole it would point in the exact opposite direction! If we can assume the compass would even function.

To accurately use a compass to discover true north, you must also know your latitude. In other words, to navigate the earth requires both good instruments and the knowledge about how to use them well. For the church to reliably chart its path through difficult scenarios requires understanding how to use well the tools God has supplied for his people. In 1 Corinthians, Paul tackled a rough situation by providing some of these reliable tools for the journey. Continue reading “True north: finding a reliable path forward”

Entrusted to the next generation

A little book I edited a few years ago compiles great advice from more experienced preachers for the benefit of young preachers. This almost completely unknown book possesses some great treasures from great soldiers of the cross. It was entitled, Entrusted to the Next Generation. Twenty-three seasoned preachers responded, adding up to an astonishing 918 years of preaching. The longest serving at the time of publishing was E. Claude Gardner and Mac Lyon, both of whom had been preaching for 69 years. Can I share some of these gems? Continue reading “Entrusted to the next generation”

Here today, still here tomorrow

The other day I read the profile of a preacher who had “lectured at twenty-two lectureships, and preached in sixty-five nations of the world.”

I wondered if it would be appropriate to say of another kind of preacher, “He preached in one place for fifteen years.”

Every preacher who has stuck it out in one location has done so in spite of temptations to quit with a broken heart, or to move to what seems a more glamorous location to preach. I’m not against hearing someone who delivers “full-time seminars” on this or that subject, but I am even more impressed with the man who stays in one location, builds a sustained relationship with his congregation, and does the in-the-trenches work of serving one local community. Though I am someone else’s guest speaker from time to time, I would hate to be a guest speaker every Sunday! Continue reading “Here today, still here tomorrow”