How Not to Preach Matthew’s Birth Narratives at Christmas

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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 […]

Why You Need Imperatives in Your Sermons

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“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 […]

Top 10 Sermon Introduction Mistakes

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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 […]

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

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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 […]

Bad Reasons to Switch to Expository Preaching

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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 to Preach on Controversial Theological Subjects

In regard to preaching unpopular doctrines, such as election before some audiences, future punishment, depravity, and even missions, before others; one comprehensive rule maybe given, be faithful and fearless, but skillful and affectionate. John Broadus, On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, p. 25.

4 Reasons to Start a Mid-Week Sermon Feedback Meeting

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From my article this month at Pastors Today: Pastors need feedback in order to improve their sermons. But helpful feedback on your sermon is hard to come by. To fill this need for brutally honest, educated, and constructive feedback, I suggest you start a mid-week sermon feedback meeting. Every Wednesday several of us on the […]

How to Read Fiction and Become a More Interesting Preacher

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It’s been said many times that it’s a sin to be a boring preacher. But what is the opposite of a boring preacher? An entertaining preacher? An intellectually enlightening preacher? Or, heaven forbid, a good communicator? I’d trade those three for an interesting preacher every time. Of course you don’t want to be interesting just […]

3 Ways Expository Preaching Combats Biblical Illiteracy

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From my monthly article at Pastors Today: “Biblical illiteracy is a widespread problem that manifests itself in several ways. The basic nuts and bolts Bible knowledge of key stories, people, and concepts is much less common. People have little patience for the parts that are difficult to understand, let alone the parts that are clear […]

The Term “Sermon Illustration” Is Broader than You Think

Good writers typically supply a fair number of preachers’ “illustrations,” as we call them. The term is actually a catch-all for anecdotes, analogies, stories, blog entries, editorial opinions, famous tweets, incidents from history, memorable sayings, biographical profiles, statistics, snippets of dialogue from TV interviews, lines from Wikipedia bios, lines from poems, news reports, people’s comments […]

How to Improve Your Sermons in 2014 (From a Preacher from the 1800’s)

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Have you thought about how you are going to grow as a preacher this year? What do you need work on improving? What bad habits do you need to not do so much? And what are you going to do to make those improvements happen? John Broadus, a 19th century homiletics professor and seminary president, is […]

The Easier Path to Sermon Illustrations

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This is the third post on sermon illustrations that I had the opportunity to write for The Gospel Coalition. (The other two are here and here.) I hope it helps you to write impactful illustrations for your sermon this Sunday! Many pastors find illustrations to be the most challenging part of preaching. Challenges can seem […]

How 6 Faithful, But Not-Famous Pastors Prepare Their Sermons

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Last week I surveyed how long well known pastors – like Keller, Piper, and Driscoll – take to prepare their sermons. The discussion in the comments was fantastic. One commenter, Andrew, posted an interesting thought: “This was really interesting. I’d also be interested to hear a similar breakdown from faithful, small church pastors. May give […]

The Number of Hours Keller, Piper, Driscoll (and 5 Others) Spend on Sermon Prep

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There are various opinions on how long it should take someone to prepare their sermon for Sunday. There are minimalists, maximalists, and everything in between. No matter where you are on the spectrum, it should comfort you to know that well known preachers span the entire spectrum. So how long do well known preachers take to […]

5 Types of Sermon Illustrations and How to Use Them

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Perhaps you’ve read my post here “3 Types of Effective Sermon Illustrations and How to Use Them“. Well, I recently had the opportunity to expand it to five types for an article that ran at The Gospel Coalition last week. In case you missed it, you can check it out here. Here’s a preview: “One […]

3 Reasons Your Church Needs Sermon Illustrations

I had the privilege to contribute a post at The Gospel Coalition today. Here’s an excerpt: “There are several reasons why pastors don’t use illustrations in their sermons. Some pastors leave them out on principle, thinking illustrations steal stage time from the Scriptures. Illustrations, they say, are ear candy to keep people’s attention off their […]

Why Your Church Needs More Variety in Your Sermons (And How to Do It)

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From my most recent article at Christianity.com. Regular preachers need to be more like starters than bench players. The bench player is a specialist. A southpaw might take the mound to pitch to one player. A sharp shooter enters the game to knock down threes to spark a comeback. But the starters need to do […]

Error in “Show Then Tell” Corrected, Updated Ebook Available for Download

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I’ve received a lot of positive feedback on Show Then Tell, more than I expected by far. A lot of folks downloaded it, and a lot of them shared it over social media. I couldn’t be happier with how the ebook was received. But only the Bible is perfect, and Show Then Tell, not being the Bible, […]

2 Things You Must Do with Your Sermons

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Yesterday I started writing a monthly blog post for Christianity.com. I’m grateful to Alex Crain for the opportunity to be a part of their awesome team of bloggers. Here’s an excerpt of my first article, “Two Things You Must Do with Your Sermons.” Click here to read the whole thing. As you drive home from church […]

How to Preach Like D.A. Carson Without Sounding Like Him

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Learning from good preachers is a tricky business. On the one hand, we are commanded to learn from other preachers. Paul told Timothy, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). None of us have an […]

Download My Free Sermon Illustration Ebook “Show Then Tell” Today!

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Today I’m pleased to give away a free ebook, Show Then Tell: 52 Illustrations for Believing and Living the Gospel. It contains original, hand-crafted illustrations that will point the people you teach to Jesus. I hope you find it helpful. Show Then Tell came out better than I could have ever imagined thanks to my friend Ted […]

5 Quick Reasons to Manuscript Your Sermons

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Whether it is best to manuscript or to outline your sermon is an ongoing conversation. Everyone is different. Driscoll goes up with post-it notes, Piper takes a manuscript. Figuring out which is right for you takes time and experimentation. I just preached back-to-back Sunday mornings while our lead pastor was out of town – the […]

Endorsements for My Free Sermon Illustration Ebook “Show Then Tell”

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We’re putting the finishing touches on Show Then Tell: 52 Illustrations for Believing and Living the Gospel, which I’ll have available as a free download right here at the blog this month. (Update: it’s now available here.) I’m excited to give away this resource, and I hope and pray it will help you preach and teach […]

12 Steps to Strong Sermon Illustrations

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There are three kinds of preachers when it comes to sermon illustrations. There are those who were born with the innate ability to snatch the most engaging stories out of thin air – often while preaching the sermon – and plug them seamlessly into their exposition. Jerks. Then there are those who resign themselves to […]

5 Ways Pastors Spiritually Benefit From Preaching Expository Sermons

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Many pastors have written and spoken concerning the ways expository preaching benefits your congregation, but few talk about how it benefits the soul of you, the preacher. I say this as one who sometimes loses sight of the blessings of expository preaching because of the exhaustion of week-in, week-out teaching ministry. Pastors can succumb to […]