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 ChurchPastor.com: 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 […]

7 Shortcuts to Hitting Your 10,000 Hours as a Preacher


It takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert at something, according Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers. That’s not very good news for preachers. To reach that number, you would have to preach a one-hour sermon every week for over 190 years, if you only counted the time spent preaching your Sunday […]

Thinking About Starting a Blog? 4 Important Questions to Ask Yourself First


If you have been thinking about starting a blog, you may be interested in my latest article at Pastors Today. Here’s a sneak peak: “We are in a digital age, and our effectiveness as leaders will be measured in part by the extent that our influence reaches to the digital realm. Pastors are seeing the […]

10 Questions with Barnabas Piper on His New Book “The Pastor’s Kid”


Today Barnabas Piper’s book The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity is being released. Being the son of John Piper (who wrote the forward), he draws on his own experience of growing up as a PK. Pastors who want to raise their kids as best as they can will benefit immensely. Barnabas provides several quotes from […]

What Small Groups Do Best


In my article today at Christianity.com, What Small Groups Do Best, I discuss two good things small groups do that should not be the main thing you aim for, and then the one thing that small groups are best for. Here’s a preview: The motto, “good is the enemy of great” applies as much to […]

Bad Reasons to Switch to Expository Preaching


It’s never good to do the right thing for the wrong reason. This is because your heart is with the wrong reason, not the right thing to do. And as soon as the right thing to do no longer gets you the results you wrongly desire, you’ll ditch doing that right thing and either do […]

How Our Small Groups Grew 30% in Just 8 Months


“It took me two years to find a small group,” a young lady at my church once told me. She stuck it out a long time until she finally got plugged into our church. But how many dozens of others came and left because they couldn’t meet people, build relationships, and experience community? I realized […]

Your Three Options When Instituting Change


Change is hard no matter where it happens, but it seems like it can be hardest in churches. People have a vested interest in keeping things the same. Maybe they are comfortable with where the church is. Perhaps it has taken a lot of work to get there. Or maybe certain ministries suit their interests. […]