Something Pastors and Preachers Always Need to Be Reminded Of

I’m just wrapping up Preaching? Simple Teaching on Simply Preaching by Alec Motyer, and it is full of wisdom. (Tim Keller said, “Alec Motyer has had a profound, formative influence on my preaching. In this book he puts his decades of wisdom on expository preaching at the reader’s fingertips. This is as practical and Biblically solid […]

Are You a Self-Starter, But Not a Self-Finisher?

“Self-starter” is an identity that up-and-coming leaders seek. It means that you take initiative and responsibility without being asked or coerced. You see a problem and you jump on it. No one ever has to tell you what to do. You put on your Nikes and just do it. But there can be a dark […]

Four Kinds of Churches on the Attractional Spectrum (Where Does Yours Land?)

You may have noticed that there has been a bit of conversation around the web about “attractional” churches. The question is often posed as to whether your church is attractional or missional in regard to its approach to reaching the lost. Rather than discuss that polarization, I’d like to take a moment to look at […]

Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry

I’m excited to let you know that today marks the release of Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry: A Practical Guide, edited by Cameron Cole and Jon Nielson. Cameron is the director of youth ministries at Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, AL and the chairman of Rooted Ministry, which seeks to advance grace-driven youth ministry and to equip […]

Do You Want to Be a Relevant Preacher?

John Stott, in his classic work on preaching, Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today, reminds us that it’s impossible not to be relevant when you connect all of who Jesus Christ is to our needs as fallen people: “The One we preach is not Christ-in-a-vacuum, nor a mystical Christ unrelated to the real world, nor […]

10 Ways to Pastor Your Church that Will Never Be Obsolete

Technology – sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse – affects how pastors shepherd their churches more than ever before. Many of us preach from digital mini-pulpits through blogs and social media. Our members, when they are sick our out of town, hear our preaching through ear buds or watch us on Vimeo. These […]

Why November Is the Best Time to Start Your New Year’s Resolutions

There are lots of reasons people fail to meet their New Year’s resolutions, but I think an overlooked one is timing. Is there a worse time of the year than post-Christmas to make goals for the next year? You’ve been stressed by the busyness of the holidays, and you’re barely out of your food coma. […]

Tim Keller on What Makes a Sermon Bad, Good, or Great

The elders at my church recently gave each of us pastors a copy of Tim Keller’s Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism. I’m just one chapter in, but it promises to be fantastic (no surprise there). Early on, Keller describes the difference between bad, good, and great sermons: “The difference between a bad sermon and […]

3 Tactics for Discipling Your Church on the Issue of Abortion

Pastors have a unique opportunity to disciple their churches on the issue of abortion right now. Conversation about abortion is not going to die down anytime soon, now that we’ve seen a second release of an undercover video capturing Planned Parenthood higher-ups negotiating the purchase of organs of aborted babies. How can we help our […]

What Not to Do: Top 10 Résumé Mistakes from My Recent Children’s Minister Search

You can tell a lot about someone by their résumé. This is something I learned by looking at almost one hundred of them for my church’s search for a new children’s minister. (By the way, God sent us someone, and he is awesome.) A couple were great. A few were good. But many of them […]

How Your Devotional Life Flavors Your Ministry Life

If you haven’t read Paul Tripp’s Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry, I can’t recommend it to you highly enough. It’s vintage Tripp: punchy, pithy, and full of gospel glory. Here’s a passage on the pastor’s devotional life (p. 35): I am more and more convinced that what gives a ministry its motivations, […]

5 Keys to Preaching Gospel-Centered Sermons

There is a difference between preaching a gospel-centered sermon and preaching a sermon with the gospel in it. Either the gospel is the sun, or it’s Saturn or one of Saturn’s moons or – worst case – Pluto. Does your sermon revolve around the work of God in the Lord Jesus? Or does Christ’s death […]

The Best Way for Leaders to Delegate

Every authority on leadership recognizes the importance of delegating. We are not omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, or omni-temporal. In other words, we can’t do everything, be everywhere, know all the answers, or work all the time. Since we aren’t born with ten arms, we need help getting things done. God is the only one in the […]

Be What You Want to See in Your Church

From Jared Wilson in The Pastor’s Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in Your Life and Ministry (p. 47): “God forbids pastoral domineering but commands instead ‘being examples to the flock’ (1 Pet. 5:3). Therefore, pastor, whatever you are, your church will eventually become. If you are a loudmouth boaster, your church will gradually become known for […]

5 Benefits of a Well-Structured Small Group Ministry

Where a sphere of ministry is primarily focused on relationships, that ministry tends to have an organic emphasis. So, in regard to small groups, it’s not so much a matter whether the ministry will be organic, but how much structure will the leader of the ministry provide. It’s a matter of how intentional the landscaping […]

How Not to Preach Matthew’s Birth Narratives at Christmas

This month at Pastors Today, I explore ways Matthew’s stories of Jesus’ birth have not been preached so well, and what to do instead. It may seem to be impossible to misinterpret the birth narratives in our advent sermons. What could be easier to preach at Christmas than the birth of Jesus? What could be […]

Strength to Lead Grows through Resistance

Here is a preview of my article this month for Pastors Today, “Strength to Lead Grows through Resistance”: Have you ever realized how easy leadership is? A vision statement is pretty easy to write if you toy around with the verbiage long enough. Dreaming up big hairy audacious goals is a blast. And reading leadership […]

Why You Need Imperatives in Your Sermons

“It is, however, vital to understand that, although ‘Christianity begins with a triumphant indicative’, it does not end with one. Certainly, the indicative mood in Christianity enjoys a preponderance; it does not, however enjoy an exclusiveness. Christianity is not altogether in the indicative mood. Indeed, although there is a primacy and a priority about the […]

Make Your Next Pastoral Hire a Good One

An open church position poses an opportunity for your ministry to move forward or go backward. Despite relentless interviews and prayer, you never really know which way it will go until the new person is in the role, off and running (or crawling, as the case may be). How can you know if you are […]

5 Tips for the Introverted Pastor

Here’s a preview of an article I wrote for introverted pastors at It can be hard to be an introverted pastor. Our culture values the strengths of an extroverted personality more than those of an introvert. There is also the reality that we have a people heavy job, and an inclination to enjoy alone […]

My 3 Favorite OT Biblical Theologies

When I first began learning about biblical theology at Wheaton Graduate School, I was immediately hooked. To this day one of my greatest joys in studying Scripture is discovering new twists and turns that the themes of the Bible take on their journey from Genesis 1-3 through Jesus’ ministry and on to Revelation 21-22. To spur you […]

How Basic Economics and Effective Church Leadership Go Together

I’m currently about halfway through Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics: A Commonsense Guide to the Economy. Not only have I learned a lot about economics, I’ve gleaned many lessons that can be applied in a church context. So much so that I wanted to share some things even before I finish the book. First of all, […]

Top 10 Sermon Introduction Mistakes

How you get your sermon started matters. While there is lots of room for error in the body of your sermon, there is little room for error in your introduction. It can be the difference between someone being on the edge of their seat or slumped in their seat, between using their phone’s Bible app […]

3 Great Options for Small Group Curriculum

“What do your small groups use for curriculum?” It’s the second question you get asked if you’re in charge of small groups at your church, right after “How many groups do you have?” Choosing what your small groups study may be more important than you think. Ministry leaders may seek to provide freedom to their groups by […]

The Blessings and Curses of Being an Introverted Pastor

Here’s a preview of my most recent article at Pastors Today: The stakes are high when it comes to being an introverted pastor because our job is people. The very nature of our role requires us to engage with our congregation relationally, but the nature of our personality inclines us toward alone time. To the […]