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

From Cornelius Platinga in Reading for Preaching (p. 22): “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 [...]

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 [...]

6 Ways to Preach with Passion (Hint: Yelling Isn’t One of Them)

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Many preachers are like a light switch when it comes to passion, it’s either flipped on or off, either talking or yelling. To more effectively use passion in your preaching, think of it as a dimmer switch with various levels of passion and smooth transitions from one to the other. Calvin Miller, in his book Preaching: [...]

The Monty Python Secret to Creative Sermon Illustrations and Applications

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How can a pastor come up with captivating illustrations on a weekly basis? What does it take to think up applications that actually lead toward change in your congregation? Where does that creativity come from? These topics are common in my sermon coaching conversations. Interpreting the passage accurately is hard enough. But it is only [...]

How to Preach to Every Culture in a Single Sermon

I’ve been reading Tim Keller’s Center Church, these days, and I’ve enjoyed it immensely. In his section on contextualization, Keller points out the importance of preaching in a way that is culturally relevant to your audience. The reason is that different cultures respond to different kinds of preaching. Keller writes: Contextualized gospel communication will adapt [...]

What a Pro Athlete Can Teach You about Raising Your Preaching Game

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I once heard John MacArthur say that competitiveness was an important characteristic for good pastors, because a competitive pastor will always work to become a better pastor. Have you lost your edge? Have you become complacent? Are you resting on last year’s victories? The great professional athletes never lose their drive to improve. With the [...]

A Sermon Illustration on the Unity of Scriptural Truth from Lloyd-Jones

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From Fellowship with God, the first volume of Lloyd-Jones’ sermons on 1 John: “The light of truth is like the natural light; it can be broken up by prism into a large number of subsidiary colours which together form that perfect light. And so it is with the Scriptures, all from God, all in-breathed by the Hol Spirit, all perfectly [...]

Are Your Sermons All “Fire” But no “Logic”?

D. Martin Lloyd-Jones is famous for saying that preaching is “logic on fire.” Unfortunately, many preachers who lack in the logic category try to make up for it with more fire. Not having the logical hops to dunk the sermon, this preacher is a fiery dribbler who never crosses the three-point line. He looks at [...]