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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.

Book Review: “Spark: Igniting a Culture of Multiplication”

Exponential Director Todd Wilson has a passion for church planting and advancing God’s Kingdom. In “Spark: Igniting a Culture of Multiplication” he provides practical and inspirational insights to help shift the culture from addition to multiplication. Todd helps church leaders to better understand the tensions between their current culture and a desired reality of multiplication. Then we learn how to navigate those tensions to a desired destination.

Todd challenges us to discover what culture we are actually creating. Not the culture you want to develop but rather the real culture leaders create by the thinking, action, and models we pursue. Most new churches struggle to be viable and tend to create a culture that focuses on surviving and avoiding subtraction. The struggle to move from infancy to adolescence reinforces a culture that focuses on addition. The addition culture measures success by accumulating. The metrics include financial resources, attendance, facilities and the number of weekend services and scope of ministries offered. Todd presents a model to shift towards multiplication. We must develop a micro strategy that develops the local church (addition) and simultaneously a macro strategy for multiplying your impact beyond your local context.

The book documents the lack of present day churches focused on multiplication. Less than one half of one percent are actually engaged in multiplication Furthermore our church culture tends to celebrate the fastest growing and largest churches which simply reinforces the culture of addition rather than multiplication. Wilson cites the research of Warren Bird and Ed Stetzer in Viral Churches that there is presently no documented church planting movement that involves the rapid multiplication of churches rather than simple addition.

Wilson addresses eighteen [18] tensions that churches face to transition from addition to multiplication. It’s multiplication that carries the legacy of your church to future generations and beyond the accumulation you achieve in your micro strategy. Todd challenges us: “Bottom line is that we can’t establish a multiplication growth culture without bucking conventional thinking and making some radical decisions. How prepared are you? Are you willing to:

• Plant your first church before building or buying your first building;

• Send your first church planter before accumulating your first two to three staff members;

• Commit the first fruits of your financial resources, tithing 10 percent or more to church planting, even before paying other essentials like salaries;

• Plant your first church before starting your first multisite;

• Come alongside and coach other church planters in your area who can benefit from your encouragement and experience;

• Start or join a church planting network, locally or nationally, to collaborate with others, find accountability for multiplying and building a multiplication culture, and get involved in more than you otherwise could?”

I’d recommend this resource to all church leaders to help us transition from local to Kingdom leaders and ignite a culture of multiplication!

Pastor Bruce Zachary planted Calvary Nexus in Camarillo, CA and is the director of Calvary Church Planting Network. Many of his resources are available for free online, including Kingdom Leaders and the Church Planting Manual. You can follow Pastor Bruce on Facebook.

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.

Book Review: Spiritual Warfare by Brian Brodersen

Recently while traveling to a church planting conference I had an opportunity to reread Pastor Brian’s book on spiritual warfare. I was once again blessed. I was also reminded of the need for spiritual empowerment in every phase of ministry, but perhaps especially important for church planters to be mindful of.

The issues related to spiritual empowerment – prayer and spiritual warfare, are so critical to church planters. Yet, these matters are often neglected as church planters are so overwhelmed by the constant pressures associated with starting a new work. It is so very important to understand the issues. Also, we must develop a strategy of prayer support and a plan to be victorious in the spiritual battle that we are engaged in.

…we must develop a strategy of prayer support and a plan to be victorious in the spiritual battle that we are engaged in.

Brian provides a biblical explanation of the reality and nature of: the spiritual battle, Satan’s influence in this age, the schemes of the devil, temptation, the armor of God, and engaging in the spiritual battle. Paul, in his writings to the Corinthians, said that he was not ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). Neither can we be ignorant of Satan’s devices. It is Brian’s intention in this book not only to reveal our enemy’s character and devices, but also to guide you in the appropriation of the victory that God has given us over him.

It is Brian’s intention in this book not only to reveal our enemy’s character and devices, but also to guide you in the appropriation of the victory that God has given us over him. 

You will consider Satan’s kingdom as well as his activity in the world and his assault upon God’s people. You will be reminded that although he is crafty, intelligent, and well armed, he is powerless against a Christian who is fortified with the whole armor of God and spiritually fit through prayer. Understanding these truths is useless unless we apply what we’ve learned to our daily walk of faith. Brian will encourage you that the spiritual principles from God’s Word can only be acted upon through the power of the Holy Spirit. He encourages you to ask God to fill you with His Spirit and to lead you on to victory. You can be sure God will. Brian concludes, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” [Ephesians 6:10].

…although [Satan] is crafty, intelligent, and well armed, he is powerless against a Christian who is fortified with the whole armor of God and spiritually fit through prayer.

I was blessed by Brian’s book, as I am by his teaching in general, but especially the teaching on spiritual warfare. Brian has taught and written extensively on the subjects of the work of the Holy Spirit and spiritual warfare. He shares not only a rich, well-reasoned treasure trove of theology on the subject of spiritual warfare, but inspiring illustrations of these truths in the lives of some of the great influencers in the church. He also gives us a peek into some of his own experiences with these issues. As usual, his style is easy to relate to, practical and easy to understand.

Thanks to Pastor Brian’s generosity, the book is free to CCPN [download in tools]

CCPN Regional Roundtable Gatherings – Initial Impressions

This year, CCPN will be hosting Regional Roundtable Gatherings across the U.S. and overseas as well! Below, Bruce Zachary (CCPN Director) shares his take on the importance and value of these regional gatherings…

I recently completed my fourth roundtable gathering in the last few weeks. I’ve attended gatherings in the Philippines, Northern California Bay Area, Rosarito, Baja Mexico, and Portland, Oregon. In these gatherings I’ve had the opportunity to meet with more than 250 Calvary Chapel pastors, prospective planters and support team participants. Calvary Chapel is a network of churches in relationship with one another because we share a common philosophy of ministry and theology [core values]. Yet, in the midst of the routine and the micro-focus on the needs of the local church we can neglect the relational aspect. Roundtable gatherings are valuable and necessary to the health of a movement because they create develop and strengthen Christ-centered relationships that support a larger movement’s health.

Roundtable gatherings are valuable and necessary to the health of a movement because they create develop and strengthen Christ-centered relationships that support a larger movement’s health.  

One of the reasons that I like roundtable gatherings is the ability to hear from multiple people as they share their insights, questions, ideas, experience and testimonies. I love gathering in smaller groups and going around a table at the start of a gathering and hearing people share about why they are attending the gathering. You hear the story of the established Calvary Chapel pastor who is realizing the need for his church to engage in church planting and he’s not sure where to begin. You hear the story of the planter who has planted four or five years before and is struggling and is looking for answers.  You hear the testimony of the planter who is near the end of being trained and is starting to explore some areas to plant. Then his wife shares that she is there to support her husband, and she’s trying to figure out what she’s supposed to be doing as a church planter’s wife. And of course you’ll hear some experienced Calvary pastors share, “I wish something like this was available when I started twenty years ago.”

It is a blessing to meet folks who are just starting to be interested in the idea of church planting and who relatively recently heard about the Calvary Church Planting Network. Once they hear the vision, and discover the multitude of resources and the extensive support that is available through CCPN they share how excited they are to get started. It is also extremely valuable to me to hear ideas from these varied voices that add wisdom and ideas to our conversation about church planting in the CC movement.

I was reflecting about some of the people that I’ve met from different parts of the country and the world that I so greatly respect admire and desire to assist in the arduous task of church planting. And I believe that I’ve recently made some lifetime friends. I also appreciate how much I enjoy spending time with old friends and laughing with one another (and at one another). To witness old and new friends encourage and equip each other is a special treat.

So, my encouragement to pastors and planters alike is to make roundtable gatherings a priority for your own spiritual health, for the benefit of others who need to hear your voice, and for the benefit of our movement.

So, my encouragement to pastors and planters alike is to make roundtable gatherings a priority for your own spiritual health, for the benefit of others who need to hear your voice, and for the benefit of our movement. 

CCPN Regional Gatherings

As part of our commitment to relational support, mentoring, and church planting, CCPN is offering an opportunity for face-to-face informal gatherings in various regions for mentors, planters, and spouses. These gatherings will offer training on various topics, opportunities for Q&A, sharing ideas, triumphs, challenges, and to dialogue on enhancing church planting in the CC movement.

These gatherings provide opportunities to be encouraged, equipped, and develop relationships. The gatherings will include a meal, meaningful prayer time, and assessment guidance. Please find the nearest gathering and register today.

Join us if you can…

  1. SoCal — 3.12.14 @ Calvary Nexus, Camarillo, CA – hosted by Pastor’s Bruce Zachary & Miles DeBenedictis
  2. Philippines — 4.10-12.14 @ CC Dumaguete City – hosted by Joseph Jo and Bruce Zachary
  3. Northern California — 4.22.14 @ CC Fremont – hosted by Tim Brown and Bruce Zachary, RSVP Here
  4. Baja California, Mexico — 5.3.14 @ CC Rosarito – hosted by: Mike Vincent, Jonathan Domingo and Bruce Zachary, RSVP Here
  5. Pacific Northwest — 5.6.14 @ CC Portland – hosted by Terry McNabb and Bruce Zachary, RSVP Here
  6. Central Florida — 5.8.14 @ CC Melbourne – Hosted by Dave Folkerts, RSVP Here
  7. Northeast— 5.10.14 CC Old Bridge, NJ: Lloyd Pulley, Shawn Frasher, RSVP Here
  8. Southwest — 5.22.14 Calvary Community Church, Phoenix, AZ: Mark Martin, RSVP Here
  9. Midwest — 6.5.14 @ Crossroads Church of Denver – hosted by Tom Stipe and Ed Taylor, RSVP Here
  10. Mexico City — 7.17-19.14 – hosted by Bruce Zachary, Mike Vincent and Jonathan Domingo, RSVP Here
  11. East Africa — 8.22.14 @ CC Githurai, Nairobi, Kenya – hosted by: Ed Compean, and Murigi Kariuki, RSVP Here 
  12. Northwest Florida — 8.22.14 @ Coastline Gulf Breeze – hosted by: John & Neil Spencer, RSVP Here 
Some of the topics we’ll be discussing:
  1. Assessment – who should plant
  2. Teacher training
  3. CCPN vision
  4. How to know where you are called to plant
  5. First year planters triumphs & tragedies
  6. Creating a core team
  7. Scouting an area for a new church
  8. Transitional leadership
  9. Creating an effective prayer strategy for planters
  10. Evangelism/outreach
  11. Leader development
  12. Help for church-planting wives
  13. Business matters

Book Review: “Community: Taking Your Small Group Off Life Support”

Pastor Jay Fulton in New Jersey wrote this insightful review about Brad House’s book, Community, which focuses on the importance and structure of small groups.

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As a church planter I appreciate the wealth of resources that are available to me that encourage, provide insight, or reinforce some things I might already know.  One of those resources is the book “Community: Taking Your Small Groups Off Life Support” by Brad House.  In many ways this book has helped to shift how I think about community groups and the limits I placed on them.  Quite often churches view community groups as peripheral ministry and not as essential—after all, we disciple and fellowship sufficiently on Sundays, right?  Well this was how I viewed community groups too, but the early church knew nothing of such a notion!

The reality is that the concept of Community is central to our experience in Christ and essential for discipleship and effectively spreading the Gospel.  The description of the early church found in Acts 2:42-46 provides a sketch of community that is the basis (or should be) for all that we do as church planters and leaders: “And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers…all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need…continuing daily with one accord…breaking of bread from house to house, they ate food with gladness and simplicity of heart.”  Did you catch that?  The early church did “life together” on mission for God.  And the result is that God added to the church.  So why then is this kind of community lacking?

the concept of Community is central to our experience in Christ and essential for discipleship and effectively spreading the Gospel.

I won’t attempt to completely answer that question in this post, but House identifies at least once reason for this result, and that is our individualistic identities.  We tend to value individual accomplishment over group achievement.  But the church should demonstrate a collectivist view of life.  I don’t mean this in a political sense, being a populist.  But it’s how Dietrich Bonhoeffer summed up the notion: “Christian community means community through and in Jesus Christ.”  It is through Christ that we have been reconciled to God and to one another. It is in Christ that we are united together like a family who shares the bloodline of Jesus.  Basically, the witness of community is more powerful than an individual witness.  Loving your neighbor is much easier if you never have to deal with them.  Living in light of the Gospel is much harder in community where people sin against you” (House).

“Christian community means community through and in Jesus Christ.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Having provided a foundation on which to build, House begins to outline two additional major steps for building thriving community groups: [1] redefining community groups by applying the theological and philosophical convictions to the real experience of living life together, and [2] effecting change in those groups which takes prescriptive approach to transforming community groups.

While both of these final two sections provide a detailed perspective and approach to implementing and changing community groups, I will leave you with some quotes from the book that I found to be beneficial.  In the meantime, I recommend adding this book to your reading list in the new year!

 “I have heard many purposes for joining community groups, including but not limited to: belonging, making big church feel small, learning the Bible, pastoral care, fellowship, friends, closing the back door of the church, evangelism, and so on. Each of these purposes has merit and can be argued as essential to the church. I would suggest, however, that these “purposes” are in fact the product of community rather than its ultimate goal.”

“In the case of the church, our goal is to produce disciples of Jesus who worship him and exalt his name. If we aim at a product such as belonging as the purpose of community, we can achieve that goal without pointing to Jesus.” 

“When retaining people becomes our goal, we inadvertently communicate that our purpose is to grow the church rather than glorify God. We become more interested in building the church rather than advancing the kingdom. We lift up the church rather than the name of Jesus.”

“As we prepare to change the direction of community groups in our churches, we must take time to look at what God has called the church to be. Where we have missed the mark, we should follow the example of Josiah and lead our people in repentance.”