Archive for Preaching


Preacher! Please Expand Your Illustration Pool

I remember walking into the church office one day and one of our pastors was visibly frustrated. She looked at me and said, “If I read one more sports illustration in this book, I’m going to lose my mind.” (She was reading a popular book on leadership.) Lately, I’ve been listening to a very well-known preacher and enjoying the way he unfolds Scripture. As I’ve listened, I’ve begun to realize that his illustration default is C.S. Lewis. He can quote him 3-4 times in one message. (Can I still go to heaven if I’m not a great lover of Narnia?) Another pastor whose church I often visit while on vacation has personal illustrations as his “go to”. These are not criticisms just observations.

Pastor Please Expand you

Sermon illustrations are windows in a message and for me the more windows the better.  Continue reading…


The Compliment That Made Me Sad

Our neighbours are not coffee drinkers so whenever they have overnight guests my wife makes a pot of coffee for them and delivers it in a gigantic travel mug.  A couple of weeks ago she made her delivery and stayed for a while and the conversation turned to church.  The guests attend church periodically and my wife invited them to our church and God stuff.  It happened to be a Sunday when she was on the Worship Team and I was speaking.  To be honest we were not sure if they would come but they came and we were thrilled.  Our atmosphere is very relaxed but at the same time our worship is passionate.  They drank everything in and came after the service to say they enjoyed being with us.


On the Monday, my wife was talking with them and they said the following which is a compliment but always makes me sad at the same time, “I understood everything your husband said.”

Why would I be upset at this?

Isn’t that a sign that you are actually communicating?

Yes, that’s all true but here’s the deal.

Why are they surprised that they understood what I said?

What is going on in our church pulpits that guests don’t expect to understand the message?

What is going on that the average person thinks the preacher is going to sound like Charlie Browns’ teacher?

I know we all have our own style and approach whether it’s conversational or firebrand, smoke or no smoke, powerpoint or overhead, Arminian or Calvinist, topical or expository.  These are hills that some people will die on especially the last four:)  Style doesn’t matter is you fail to communicate and connect with your message.

Here are a few broad strokes or filters if you like  from Peter Mead, that I think can check us as we prepare our messages.


Take the opportunity to show that you are not a Bible history lecturer, but someone who is aware of real life. Show that the message will be relevant to listeners’ lives. Point out that the passage itself is relevant. Three hits before the message has even begun!

Message Idea

Make sure the wording of your main idea is contemporary. You can support it biblically, but word it for us, today.

The Wording of Every Point

Word the points “us” and “we” rather than historical labels for biblical content.

Explanations, Proofs and Applications Throughout

Traditionally called “illustrations,” make good use of contemporary experience and applicational description rather than offering lots of historical (and therefore distant) anecdotes and quotes.


Between each point, you can offer a glimpse of the relevance of the message again.


See point #1, above.


There you have it simple.  Simple? Yes.  Effective? Yes.

Here’s to fewer people being amazed that they understood what the preacher said.




My Thoughts on “Preaching Sticky Sermons” by

Once a month, I write for and when Brandon and Joe announced their new book I jumped at the chance to get an advanced copy.  “Preaching Sticky Sermons” is a book you should have in your library.  The tag line is: “The Complete Practical Guide to Preparing, Writing, and Delivering Memorable Sermons” and they deliver on the promise.

They divide the book into 4 sections:

  • Great Preaching Begins With Great Preparation
  • Write For Maximum Impact
  • Deliver Intentionally and Powerfully
  • Beyond Sunday

The book has many strengths and here are 3 that stand out for me:

  • The seriousness for which they take the preaching task.
  • The desire to let the Scripture speak for itself.
  • The amount of time they take hammering home the importance of application.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

“Once you have the single, main passage identified, read it, study it, and then answer these 5 questions:
1. What do I, or others believe that goes against this text?
2. What do I or others do that goes against this text?
3. How might some people interpret this text in a way that resolves the tension of application and action?
4. What problem in life does this text address?
5. How do people justify that problem in their lives so they don’t have to deal with it?”

I know we all do this in one way or another but having these questions and filling them in as you study will help keep you in the passage, keep you practical and speed up your study.

However, you want to say it, “soup to nuts”, “beginning to end”, “A-Z”, “everything and the kitchen sink”, Joe and Brandon have created a great resource for preachers whether you are a beginner or a veteran.

Don’t just take my word for it here are some other reviews.

To close, here are a few of my favourite (I’m Canadian) quotes from each major section of the book.

Great Preaching Begins With Great Preparation:

  • “My biggest prayer is that God would push me to the side and that He would take over and simply use me as to tool to accomplish what He would like to do.”
  • “If you want to see God work in a special way in your message it must be biblically true.”
  • “Theologians like systems. Sometimes, in our actions, not our intentions we end up evaluating a system above Scripture.”

Write For Maximum Impact:

  • “Weeks where you don’t feel particularly creative can be vital to you realizing how much you depend on God to give you the words to say.”
  • “You should be as crystal clear in your application of the text just are you are crystal clear in explaining the meaning of the text.”
  • “Spend time addressing what the application of the text looks like for each stage of life and situation that your congregation may resonate with.”

Deliver Intentionally and Powerfully:

  • “Every time you walk on stage you have an opportunity to make a connection with your audience or your notes. Which will you choose?”
  • “Your voice is a powerful too. The spoken word has started wars and ended wars. It has brought peace to chaotic situations and it has brought chaos to peaceful situations.”
  • “The Biblical text, the Scripture, the Gospel need to be the centerpiece of your message and as great as modern media, and movies and video clips can be they do not have the saving power of Jesus.”

Beyond Sunday:

  • “With the expansion of technology, you have an extraordinary opportunity to further your sermon content beyond Sunday morning.”
  • “If you’re not intentional about furthering that content past Sunday, you’re doing a disservice to the people who God has entrusted you to serve.”
  • “If you are utilizing a one-point sermon, your bottom line should be something that can be utilized as a tweet on Twitter.”




3 Reasons It’s Tough For A Preacher To Talk About Money

3 Reasons It’s Tough For A Preacher To Talk About Money

It’s an issue we all deal with.  It’s an issue that causes stress in marriage.  It’s an issue that worries university students.  Yet, most pastors I know find it difficult to talk about money with their congregation.  There are many reasons why this feels like a herculean task but let me give you just 3.

3 Reasons A Preacher Should Talk About Money(1)




TV Preachers

I am not like some preacher friends I know, who would love to see all television preachers removed with “extreme prejudice” from the airwaves. However, I understand their feelings.  I recently, saw a video of a preacher defending his income tax return, including the $30,000 in clothes for his Television Ministry, the $50,000 they spent to turn his Mercedes-Benz into a limo and his over 2 million house which he called a “ministry resort centre”.

And then there’s this…


Church  Horror Stories

A friend told me about being in a very large church and how the offering time offended her greatly.  The church was a family business and they had everyone come down the aisle and if you gave over $100 you put your offering in the Senior Pastor’s bucket and if it was under $100 you put it in his son’s bucket.  I wonder how many people broke the 9th Commandment – Thou shalt not lie, that Sunday morning?

Then there was the contractor who was doing work in a church and in the foyer they had a list of family names and what each family gave each Sunday!!! (I’m not making this up and oh how I wish I was.)



Money Is A Sensitive Issue



The Bible is full of topics that cut to the heart and cause people to be uncomfortable but money has to be at the top of the list.  That’s probably why Jesus talked about money and possessions so much.  People will trust God with their eternal salvation but not with their money.  Funny isn’t it?

What other reason would you add as to why it’s difficult for a preacher to speak about money?  No matter how hard it may be as ministers we have a responsibility to speak on money.  More on that next week.

Related Post:

3 reasons not enough for you?  Here are 14 more from unseminary

“I Don’t Like To Talk About Money But I Did Anyway”

Photo credit: Philip Taylor PT via / CC BY


4 Helps For Your 2015 Preaching Calendar

4 Helps For Your 2015 Preaching Calendar

If you preach regularly you are all to aware that there is a Sunday in every week:)  You will also be aware that being responsible for the spiritual feeding and direction of your congregation is not a task to be trifled with.

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1)


If you preach regularly you are all to aware that there is a Sunday in every week:)  You will also be aware that being responsible for the spiritual feeding and direction of your congregation is not a task to be trifled with.

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1)

Planning is important in your home, your finances, your daily life and in preaching.  Our personalities play a great role in how we approach the planning of our preaching.  Consider the wonderful process of going on vacation, some plan for months in advance and others grab a last-minute deal and get ready for an adventure.

When it comes to our preaching our approach needs to fall in between the vacationers that has everyday planned from morning to evening and the vacationers who wakes up every morning thinking, “What shall we do today?”

Here are 4 helps that I hope will be useful to you as you begin to consider your 2015 speaking schedule.

Bryan Loritts of Fellowship Memphis describes preaching as cutting grass, “The preacher stands and admires his message on Sunday afternoons only to be reminded that next week he must “mow the lawn” all over again.”  In this blog post he gives 7 keys to having a fruitful Study Leave – Planning Your Preaching

Rick Warren says a preacher must consider balance when it comes to content, style, tone and purpose –4 Factors to Balance Your Preaching Calendar

Jeff Henderson of the Preaching Rocket gives step by step details of creating your own preaching calendar –  How To Create An Annual Preaching Calendar – Video

Finally, Robert Hurtgen gives for benefits to the sometimes difficult work of advanced meal preparation for the sheep.  4 Benefits of An Annual Preaching Calendar

Here’s to your best year of preaching ever.

“Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind.”  (The Message)

Related Post:

What Downton Abbey Taught Me About Preaching


Photo Credit


I Wanted To Improve My Reading in 2016 So This Is What I Did



“Books are what you step on to take you to a higher shelf. The higher your stack of books, the higher the shelf you can reach.” (Jim Rohn)

I love reading books. It may have something to do with the fact when I was a kid we only had 2 televisions stations (but the research is still being collected on that). I remember my favourite part of school was the monthly order from the Scholastic Book Club. During Bible College and later Seminary, I had more books to read than I would have liked but I still read for enjoyment. For the past couple of years I have a standing meeting every 3 weeks with a group of local pastors and we work through a book together. Continue reading…


Jesus Used Repetition When He Preached And You Should Too

Jesus Used Repetition When He Preached

They say that, “Variety is the spice of life” and this is especially true of  preaching.  It’s very easy to get into a routine (think rut) with our preaching and miss the impact that variety can have on our audience and also on us in our preparation.  I read a  Thom Rainer awhile back called ” 6 Preaching Methods Jesus Used and You Should Too” and I thought I would share each element with you and add resources that will help drive each point home.


6. Jesus Used Repetition

Jesus helped his audience learn His lessons by frequently repeating Himself. He taught the same major themes again and again. For example, Jesus spoke of his death and resurrection over and over again (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33–34), and the disciples still didn’t get it. Sometimes people need to hear something many times over before it fully sinks in. In addition, teachings that get repeated get remembered. If you want to preach like Jesus, repeat. Find the main point of your message and say it again and again, and don’t be afraid to preach on important subjects more than once a year.

If you want to be a better preacher, look no further than Jesus.


As Pastor’s we often forget that when we speak it’s our peoples first time with the material not the 14th time like us.  Most of the time our fear of being to repetitive is unfounded.  There is a reason why in a one hour tv show you make see the same ad in almost every commercial break.  Because repetition works and is vital to get your message across in a over-saturated information world.

The trick is to be repetitive without being repetitive  Brad Bridges  gives 10 ways to use repetition in your speaking.

Here’s to better speaking.

Jesus Told Stories When He Preached And You Should Too

Jesus Shocked People When He Preached And You Should Too

Jesus Crafted Memorable Saying When He Preached And You Should Too

Jesus Asked Good Questions When He Preached And You Should Too

Jesus Used Object Lessons When He Prached And You Should Too

What Downton Abbey Taugh Me About Preaching

Photo credit: drestwn / Foter / CC BY


More Than A Years Worth of Sermon Ideas For You


It’s one of the worst feelings in the world.  Your mind is blank, the sheet of paper on your desk is blank and you call out to the Lord, “What do I preach next?”  If you’re like me you have a sermon idea file that you have collected over the years.  Please allow me to add over 365 ideas to your file in just one post.


When we first came to Towne Centre Church my first series was 4 weeks in Acts 2:42 with the title, “How To Have A Strong Church”.


Our District has brought in Ed Stezter from LifeWay to share with us their research on Spiritual Transformation.  Here are the 8 elements they have seen as essential:

  • Bible Engagement
  • Obeying God and Denying Self
  • Serving God and Others
  • Sharing Christ
  • Exercising Faith
  • Seeking God
  • Building relationships
  • Unashamed (Transparency)

What a great idea for starting off the Fall or the New Year.  This could be a 8-week series or each item could be a series on its own.


You can’t go wrong teaching on the Holy Spirit

  • The Fruit of the Spirit
  • The Gifts of the Spirit


Great Chapters of the Bible


How about preaching the 4 Square Gospel?  (Aimee Semple McPherson and Jack Hayford would be happy)

Jesus as:


One of my Seminary Profs said that in each church you serve the following 3 series should be preached.

1) The Apostles Creed

2) The 10 Commandments

3) The Lord’s Prayer

More Than A Years Worth of Sermon Ideas


  • Questions Jesus Asked
  • Give credit and have a series called “Sermons I Wish I Preached”
  • The Prodigal Story – Father , Son, Elder Brother
  • The Bad Characters of Bible Characters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • 5 Verses People Think Are In The Bible But Are Not There
  • Preach a sermon in “First Person” I done a few including: Gideon, the Centurion at the Cross and a Shepherd from Luke 2
  • 3 Part series on Evangelism – From the point of view of Matthew, Mark and Luke (I did this last year)
  • Over the years we have had “Preachers from the Pew” where we have asked congregation members to share the Word.
  • While I have never done a series like this myself, “God At The Movies” seems to be a popular Summer Sermon Series
  • The return of Jesus – whatever your theological bent (anything but pre-trib and you’re wrong)


Sign up here at Rookie Preacher  and receive 56 sermon ideas, everything from “Jesus, Uncut & Unedited” to “God’s Great Stories” and Old Testament survey.  Well worth it for sure.


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Of course if you are an expository preacher the question is never “What series?” but “What book?”

Any other ideas to add to the list, please let me know.


Related Posts:

How To Pray Before You Preach

4 Helps For Your Preaching Calendar

Jesus Shocked People When He Preached And You Should Too

Photo credit: ores2k / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA


How To Improve As A Storyteller


“People are hungry for stories. It’s part of our very being.  Storytelling is a form of history, of immortality too. It goes from one generation to another.”  (Studs Terkel)

Jesus was a great storyteller, stories about Him have shaped history and the stories/parables he told 2000 years ago are still with us today, “The Prodigal Son” and “The Good Samaritan” are two that come to mind.

We if as speakers are going to have a lasting impact with our message  we should follow the example of Jesus and take storytelling seriously.

But how do I improve your storytelling abilities?

First, hang out with great storytellers.  Listen and learn from the way they weave a story and make it come to life and how they pace themselves and use their bodies to drive a point home.

Second, practice, practice, and practice.  I came across this site – – and it might be of help to you.   The idea is to be an online journal for you and challenge you to write 750 words a day.  Why not take their One Month Challenge and begin to write your life story?  Practice your stories out loud.  Often times speakers write for the eye while their message is delivered to the ear.

Third, get a hold of good resources.  In my goal of becoming a better storyteller I have read many books and articles on the subject.  Here are some that have been helpful to me.


Save The Cat – This is a book about screenwriting by Blake Synder.  He got me back to storyboarding my sermons, which I have found very helpful.

5 Storytelling Secrets – An article by Sam Rainer exploring 5 tips to help you with your storytelling.

Secrets of Dynamic Communication – This book is not specifically about storytelling but it is great at helping you to bring focus to your talk.  Here’s a book review from Brandon at ProPreacher

What Makes This Paragraph So Great – From Donald Miller’s Blog

Jesus – The Good Samaritan  – The Prodigal Son

The Vinyl Cafe – Steward McLean is a master storyteller and has one of the most downloaded podcasts in Canada.  I saw him live a couple of years ago as he held 3000 people in the palm of his hand with nothing but his notes and a microphone.  Truly amazing!!

If you have any articles/books or great storytellers to suggest please leave me a comment.

Here’s to better storytelling.

“Of all the ways we communicate with one another, the story has established itself as the most comfortable, the most versatile – and perhaps the most dangerous … Assembling facts or incidents into tale is the only form of expression and entertainment that most of us enjoy at age three and age seventy-three.”          (Robert Fulford )

Image Credit


4 Ingredients Jesus Used To Hold An Audience

As a preacher, I am always looking for ways to improve my speaking. I study other communicators, for example, if a comedian gets me hooked, I analyze why he was successful and I love to read books on communication.


During my seminary years, I was always in the basement of the library breaking my neck reading the Dewey Decimal numbers while trying to find books on preaching. Continue reading…