Posts

Resources to Grow in Preaching

Preaching gives the most ear hours than any other form of communication in the church. By that I mean for all the discipleship, classes, counseling and casual conversations a pastor has through the week; more people are listening for longer periods to his prepared sermons than anything else. This is why I propose it is imperative for church planters to continue to learn and grow in presenting God’s word even after the formal training has ended and the work has begun.

…it is imperative for church planters to continue to learn and grow in presenting God’s word even after the formal training has ended and the work has begun.

While listening to good preaching is a great tool, I also strongly suggest continuing to purposely learn about preaching. Below is a far from exhaustive list of resources that I have found helpful in continuing to learn and grow as a preacher. My hope is to fill the comment section with resources you have found helpful to continuing learning and growing in preaching after initial training. Post your thoughts and resources there.

Three Podcasts

  1. Sermon Smith, John Chandler interviews pastors concerning sermon prep.
  2. On Preaching, H.B.Charles Jr. offers valuable insights.
  3. The Sermonators, Evangelist Scott Smith and Pastor Joel Sutherland have great love for preaching and preachers. 

Three Blogs, and an addition

  1. Walk in the Word with James McDonald.
  2. Biblical Preaching, Pondering preaching that shares God’s heart.
  3. The Short Preacher, Taylor Sandlin (Don’t miss the quotes on preaching).
  4. Special addition: it will be profitable to read Pastor David Guzik’s four part series titled Critical Elements of Biblical Preaching posted on the CalvaryChapel.com website.

Four Books

  1. Calvary Church Planting Manual, has an excellent and concise section on expository teacher training.
  2. Art and Craft of Biblical Preaching: A Comprehensive Resource for Today’s Communicators by Haddon Robinson and Craig Larson is a modern classic.
  3. Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, by Bryan Chappell is possibly the most comprehensive modern book on expository preaching.
  4. Preaching and Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones an all time classic in which the Dr. reminds us, “The most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching.”

Four Hard to Categorize Honorable Mentions

  1. The Exchange, is Ed Stetzer’s podcast that can keep busy church planters updated with issues affecting ministry.
  2. Rainer on Leadership, is a blog and podcast by head of LifeWay Thom S. Rainer. Recent topics include, Why Preaching is Scary, and 10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Pastor Right After the Sermon.
  3. Calvarychapel.com is effectively the clearinghouse for our tribe and a great source of encouragement, enlightenment and edification.
  4. The Productive Pastor, is a podcast from Pastor Chad Brooks offering insight into time management and productivity for the modern pastor in the modern tech oriented world.

Ed Compean is a missionary church planting coach based in Nairobi with his wife Kelli, but they are preparing to move back to the States later this year. You can read their blog or follow him on Twitter @Ed_Compean.

Orality

My university had a Gutenberg Bible. I remember standing over its glass case and feeling deep emotion as I considered how God used people like John Wycliffe, John Hus and others to bring the written word of God to common people. With no disrespect to the memories of those that gave so much so we can read God’s written revelation to us, as people involved with planting churches we must wrestle with the fact that there are approximately 3-billion adults that are primarily oral learners and will never open their Bible. It is important to us to consider methods of bringing the revelation of God to people that can not appreciate that Bible I stood over.

As people involved with planting churches we must wrestle with the fact that there are approximately 3-billion adults that are primarily oral learners and will never open their Bible.

I’ll presume the majority of readership of the Calvary Church Planting Network blog are either North American, or otherwise strongly connected to North America where the majority of people are literate. It is reasonable in those settings to expect the majority of people present to understand when the pastor, or small group leader says, “Please open with me to the Gospel of John, chapter 3.” While it may not seem like a major concern for those planting in the North America, I would like to propose two reasons why oral strategies for bringing God’s revelation should be considered along with our Movement’s rich heritage of systematically expositing the Bible.

The Next Generation of Churches

Recently I heard there are 1,600 current Calvary Chapels. Of course the greatest concentration is in the United States, with Mexico coming in second. While I pray every Calvary remains honest and true to what makes us distinct, and what I believe is a strategic role in the greater Kingdom, I also suspect the next 1,600 Calvary Chapel churches will operate vastly different than the first. Among those differences will likely be more churches planted among those that learn orally and not from a Bible in their lap. This means not changing the gospel message itself, but adapting the Biblical preaching, Biblical teaching and Biblical methods of discipleship to orality methods. This will be important as Calvary Chapel missionaries continue to open foreign fields, but also among America and Mexico’s immigrant populations (as God is faithful to bring the nations).

People not in Church Now

The United States Census Bureau reports almost 20-percent of the population has at least one disability. In the majority world those numbers are likely larger, especially if we include gender inequality and lack of education issues that hinder ability. Joni Eareckson Tada summed it up by saying,  “Only five to ten percent of the world’s disabled are effectively reached with the gospel, making the disability community one of the largest unreached (some say under-reached) or hidden people groups in the world.” While the disabled may not be able to carry a Bible, hold a Bible, sit with their Bible or follow a traditional church service, they are still image bearers of God and worthy of being reached out to in creative ways that allows them to become disciples that make disciples.

“Only five to ten percent of the world’s disabled are effectively reached with the gospel, making the disability community one of the largest unreached (some say under-reached) or hidden people groups in the world.” – Joni Eareckson Tada

What Can Church Planters Do?

First: consider creative ways to bring the revelation of God to oral learners. In Schools of Ministry and other settings, consider adding oral techniques of discipleship such as Chronological Bible Storying along with the traditional Inductive Bible Study training. Consider starting small groups based around audio scriptures, like Talking Bibles, in the mother tongue of immigrants in your community. Both these and other oral techniques are effective for oral learners and the disabled in all settings.
Second: consider purposely reaching out to the disabled by bringing them to church gatherings, but also possibly by going to them. For a church plant on a budget, small group studies, prayer meetings, or even mid-week services in a local convalescent homes can be very attractive to the existing church, but also to those that otherwise would not come to where Jesus is (Mark 2:3). The disabled may not be able to fill a pew, give much, or serve in traditional ways, but they are completely able to be the church and be ministered to by church planters.

The disabled may not be able to fill a pew, give much, or serve in traditional ways, but they are completely able to be the church and be ministered to by church planters.

Ed Compean is a church planting missionary and coach based in Nairobi. You can follow his Twitter feed @Ed_Compean, or check out the Uttermost Blog.

Use the image below to share this blog on social media:

orality - IG

200 Sundays

Tim Keller effectively communicates the gospel of Jesus Christ through preaching, but concerning young pastors the well known preacher recently said to church planters, “For the first 200 sermons, no matter what you do, your first 200 sermons are going to be terrible.”

When applied as designed, the Calvary Church Planting Network Church Planting Manual places a heavy emphasis on development of teaching and preaching in the season of equipping before the church plant. Critical, but loving feedback usually provides a great time of growth for future church planters. As the church plant moves past a core group, and especially past the launch of Sunday services, there becomes less and less opportunity to grow in preaching by receiving valuable feedback and coaching. In those first sermons of the new church the enemy that hates the church planter, and the fledgling local expression of the church, will be active to convince the planter he is useless. While not forgoing the tools of spiritual warfare, I would like to suggest three ideas for the church planter to continue the pattern of growth begun in the teacher training of the Calvary Church Planting Network Church Planting Manual.

Planter: Ask Your Wife (or other key person)

Unless he is terribly unique, at some point on Sunday afternoon the church planter will ask his wife some version of, “So, how did the message go today.” The 10-minutes that follow may be the best preparation for the following week’s sermon. This point obviously presumes the planter is married. If not, then another key person can be identified.

A pastor friend offers a short class for pastor and elder’s wives on how to critically listen to a sermon and it may be good to consider something similar for future church planters. In the meantime I suggest planters ask their wives to read the “Teaching and preaching” section in the appendix of the Church Planting Manual. It is amazing how with a little forethought and preparation how sophisticated a listener can become and how much invaluable feedback a wife can bring.

Planter: Ask the Core Team

I strongly suggest a debrief meeting of the previous Sunday service early enough in the week to prepare for the coming service. As discussions of setup, sound balance and timing of the offering are discussed, it is also valuable to ask a few key questions about the sermon. It would probably be profitable to develop a template of four or five key questions concerning the message and save more in depth discussions for another time. Questions could include:

• What was the object of the message?
• How were my mannerisms?
• Where there any illustrations that did not work?
• How did this apply to the congregation’s head (intellect), heart (inner being), and hands (application)?
• What was he main takeaway point of the message?
• What could I have done better?
• What worked well?

Planter: Ask a Coach

As a planter moves out of the mentoring relationship of his sending church, the coaching relationship typically becomes the key to development of the planter spiritually, but also in practical church matters like preaching. It is advised that the coach listen to several messages (presumably not the whole first 200), from a planter and make note of good and bad patterns.

Your 1st 200 May Be Terrible

Ed Compean has planted and pastored churches in Nairobi, Kenya and now is a church planting coach and mentor to many church leaders.


Tim Keller effectively communicates the gospel of Jesus Christ through preaching, but concerning young pastors the well known preacher recently said to church planters, “For the first 200 sermons, no matter what you do, your first 200 sermons are going to be terrible.”

For the first 200 sermons, no matter what you do,

your first 200 sermons are going to be terrible.

When applied as designed, the Calvary Church Planting Network Church Planting Manual places a strong emphasis on development of teaching and preaching in the season of equipping before the church plant. Critical, but loving feedback usually provides a great time of growth for future church planters. As the church plant moves past a core group, and especially past the launch of Sunday services, there becomes less and less opportunity to grow in preaching by receiving valuable feedback and coaching. In those first sermons of the new church the enemy who hates the church planter, and the fledgling local expression of the church, will be active to convince the planter he is useless. While not forgoing the tools of spiritual warfare, I would like to suggest three ideas for the church planter to continue the pattern of growth begun in the teacher training of the Calvary Church Planting Network Church Planting Manual.

Critical, but loving feedback usually provides a great time of growth for future church planters.

Planter: Ask Your Wife (or other key person)
Unless he is terribly unique, at some point on Sunday afternoon the church planter will ask his wife some version of, “So, how did the message go today.” The 10-minutes that follow may be the best preparation for the following week’s sermon. This point obviously presumes the planter is married. If not, then another key person can be identified.

A pastor friend offers a short class for pastor and elder’s wives on how to critically listen to a sermon and it may be good to consider something similar for future church planters. In the meantime I suggest planters ask their wives to read the “Teaching and preaching” section in the appendix of the Church Planting Manual. It is amazing how with a little forethought and preparation how sophisticated a listener can become and how much invaluable feedback a wife can bring.

Planter: Ask the Core Team
I strongly suggest a debrief meeting of the previous Sunday service early enough in the week to prepare for the coming service. As discussions of setup, sound balance and timing of the offering are discussed, it is also valuable to ask a few key questions about the sermon. It would probably be profitable to develop a template of four or five key questions concerning the message and save more in depth discussions for another time. Questions could include:

• What was the object of the message?
• How were my mannerisms?
• Where there any illustrations that did not work?
• How did this apply to the congregation’s head (intellect), heart (inner being), and hands (application)?
• What was he main takeaway point of the message?
• What could I have done better?
• What worked well?

Planter: Ask a Coach
As a planter moves out of the mentoring relationship of his sending church, the coaching relationship typically becomes the key to development of the planter spiritually, but also in practical church matters like preaching. It is advised that the coach listen to several messages (presumably not the whole first 200), from a planter and make note of good and bad patterns.

20 Questions to Ask Before Preaching This Easter

Brandon Hilgemann posted this helpful blog at pastors.com (a great resource for pastors and ministry leaders). Consider the questions below as you prepare for an exciting Easter weekend…

Easter Sunday is like the Superbowl of preaching.

This may be your largest attended service of the year. Statistically, people are more open to visiting a church on Easter (and Christmas) than any other time of year.

Because of this, your Easter sermon is infinitely important.

The eternal destination of many people in attendance is hanging in the balance. For many of them, this is the only chance you will get this year to reach them. For some, it will be your last chance ever.

The weight of responsibility on a pastor to preach on Easter Sunday should not be underestimated.

As you put in the study, hard work, and spiritual preparation to preach this Easter, here are 20 questions to ask yourself.

20 Questions to Ask Before Preaching This Easter

  1. Have I prayed about my sermon, given it over to God, and asked for the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit?
  2. Have I faithfully interpreted the Bible without addition or subtraction?
  3. Does this sermon make a clear presentation of the Gospel message?
  4. Have I used any Christian terminology that may be confusing or need explanation for visitors?
  5. Is this sermon written with non-believers in mind?
  6. Can I summarize the purpose of my Easter sermon in a sentence?
  7. Is the sermon focused on a singular purpose or are there unnecessary tangents that I should leave out?
  8. What should people do as a result of listening to this sermon?
  9. How should people  feel as a result of listening this sermon?
  10. Is this sermon longer than the attention span of my guest audience?
  11. Are there any elements of humor that will get people to laugh?
  12. Have I included any engaging stories or illustrations to support the point of the sermon?
  13. Is there anyone I could (or should) ask for feedback on my sermon before I preach it?
  14. Have I done everything I can to equip my congregation to invite other people to hear the sermon?
  15. Have I actually invited anyone to come hear the sermon?
  16. Have I asked my church to pray for the salvation of others, and have I led by example in praying for others too?
  17. What is our strategy for maximizing the chance of people coming back to hear the next sermon?
  18. Is there any unrepentant sin in my life that I need to address before I call others to repent?
  19. Have I fully prepared and practiced?
  20. Is this the absolute best I can do?

Reflections on a Church Plant Pt. 3

Ed Compean pastors Calvary Chapel Githurai, in Nairobi, Kenya. For more info, go to the church website at calvarygithurai.org. This is Part 2 of a 3-part blog series as Pastor Ed looks back on church planting. Make sure to read Part 1  and Part 2.

This is the final of three posts with a total of 10 points I passed off to the pastor that has taken over the church plant that has become Calvary Chapel Githurai. My hope in sharing some of our challenges is not only for future church planters to learn from them, but also for planters in progress to reflect and make course corrections.

Pastor your Family

Githurai was the second church plant we have been honored to be part of from the ground up. The only thing that compares to walking into a community and beginning a church is walking up to a large mountain and climbing it, except planting churches is harder and lasts longer. Unless you are very careful, both can destroy families, wipe out finances and leave you gasping for oxygen. Your family is more important than the church. Much has been said and written on this subject, but if your family is not in order, neither will be the church. Be proactive in your care for them, be accountable to others in how your wife and children are doing. let them know you choose them over the church.

Your family is more important than the church.

Persevere in Your Preaching

I sat under and downloaded great Bible teachers. I read classic commentaries. Without a doubt I had a decent understanding of the revelation of  God and remained true to the Word. In the early days all of this knowledge mattered little except for my personal edification. I learned I could thoroughly understand the text, and yet present it in a way that did not matter. Podcasts, blogs and books have helped immensely, but nothing has been better than working a message through with others before presenting it, and then asking for honest criticism after. Work at preaching, not more than the text itself, but you can not present the former without doing the later. Lives hang in the balance.

Promote Joy

Missiologist C. Peter Wagner suggests that a new church is the single most effective tool of evangelism. This is probably why Jesus suggests what you desire to plant, or are planting, is the focus of the wrath of Satan. Church planting is serious business, but it is also serious fun. As more people come to God though a new church we should rejoice as He receives more glory, but we can also say it is fun and full of joy for us! In planting the new church we get both the front seat experience and the fun of being invited to the backstage party in the show of God’s holy work that results in the glorious vision John speaks of in Revelation 7:9, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” Our vantage point will produce many tears of sorrow, but overall there is great great rejoicing in seeing a community of God worshippers come up from where there was none. There is nothing greater. Enjoy and celebrate it and go help others do the same.

Our vantage point will produce many tears of sorrow, but overall there is great great rejoicing in seeing a community of God worshippers come up from where there was none. There is nothing greater. Enjoy and celebrate it and go help others do the same.

Church Growth Rules We Broke

“How to grow your church” is a huge topic these days, especially over the last decade with the increasing popularity and glamorization of church planting. There are entire volumes and series of books and magazines dedicated to the topic, citing the top “church growth experts,” current trends and popular speakers. There are lots of rules and tips about things you should do and things you shouldn’t do, many of which are great and very helpful.

However, as a church planter in the South, I’ve found that some of the church growth tips, tricks, and trends aren’t necessarily true. Although we’ve learned from plenty of mistakes along the way, we’ve seen God use many of the rules that we’ve broken…

1. “Don’t teach on Revelation.”

Whoops. I didn’t know about this rule till after I had already broken it. Revelation is too controversial, too violent, and far too judgmental and close-minded. The moment you open that book, your church will start shrinking…or so some people seem to think.

We spent 37 weeks in the book of Revelation. Awaken continued to grow and people continually got saved (almost every week). Just ask the 88 people who made decisions for Christ if it was fruitful or not!

2. “Don’t talk about hell.”

I get it. Hell is hot and forever. It makes people uncomfortable. But Jesus talked all about it, and I’m pretty sure one of His primary goals was church planting (“I will build my Church…”). If it’s a real place, why would we not warn people about it?

One thing we say often at Awaken is, “If it’s in the Bible, we’re going to talk about it.” Hell is definitely in the Bible.

3. “Don’t preach longer than 20 minutes.”

I was once told that adult brains “are programmed to sitcom-length intervals. They can’t handle much longer than 22 minutes.” How are college students sitting through 60-minute lectures on economics then? The Bible contains all we need “for life and godliness!”

I’ll admit that I’ve been to some churches that I couldn’t imagine listening to the pastor for more than 15 minutes, but that’s not the Bible’s fault! Pastors: PLEASE don’t bore people with the Word of God! It’s alive and active, preach it as such!

As one pastor put it, “Sermonettes make Christianettes.” Going deep requires some time – from the pastor and from the church.

4. “People just want to be encouraged.”

What we’ve found over the years is that people aren’t looking for 15-minute sermonettes peppered with spiritual hugs and high fives. They want meat. They want honesty. They want truth – even if it hurts. After a sermon I preached recently someone told me, “What I love about this church is that you have the guts to say it how it is and people keep coming back!”

At the end of my life and ministry, I don’t want to be guilty of editing out the things I thought were “too harsh” or “not encouraging enough.” I just want to be faithful in handling the Word of God. God wrote it and did not leave me with editing rights.

God’s Word Speaks

Pastor Terry McNabb of Calvary Chapel Portland shares about the importance of relying on the power of Scripture to speak to people’s lives. Wise words after over 20 years of ministry!

———————————

When preparing sermons I am constantly faced with addressing deep personal issues in people’s lives. How can I help people out of life-long destructive habits that they are sometimes comfortable with or completely unaware of? It’s so easy to become impatient and irritated with people instead of reminding them of the love and grace of God. In fact, preaching today has degraded into speaking of a God of love that doesn’t ask us to change from our sin. God loves us as we are. Over twenty years of ministry I have seen over and over again how God’s word does the job of speaking right to people’s hearts in a gracious way. It just happened as I taught Jonah 4 of how Jonah became angry with God and wanted to die. Quite an overreaction! This is a common issue. People are bitter about something that has happened in their lives and it must be God’s fault. When I might have become too pointed and critical about a problem of bitterness toward God, the Scriptures spoke right to the heart. As I told the story of Jonah’s anger because God was merciful to the Ninevites, people could see how foolish Jonah was. His anger didn’t make sense. He was in God’s will and had a successful ministry so why was he angry? The lessons were clear…

1) Jonah’s part was just to deliver the message not to write it. 

2) God wasn’t asking Jonah for his opinion on the outcome of his ministry. God wanted to be merciful to Nineveh.

3) Unhappiness doesn’t mean we are out of God’s will. Jonah was in God’s will, he just didn’t like what God was doing.

4) God was patient with Jonah even in his anger and God is patient with us.

As I told the story, people could see how foolish Jonah was. They could see themselves in Jonah and how easy it is to become caught in bitterness even when God is working in our lives.

Seeing the deep needs of people is a great responsibility. In sermon preparation God’s Word will do the work for us. We could never speak right to the heart as God can. Our tone is often lacking grace or our words so general that it isn’t helpful. If we are just teaching the Word then people aren’t offended at us. They can see the lesson in the Word of God and realize they must deal with what God has shown them.

In sermon preparation God’s Word will do the work for us. We could never speak right to the heart as God can.

 2 Tim 3:16-17 – All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.