10 Ways to Avoid the Awkward Silence in Your Small Group


A big challenge all small group leaders face is to keep the conversation flowing. The easiest groups, of course, are the ones where everyone comes bubbling over with how they’ve been growing spiritually. But the reality is that people often come with guards up, struggles getting them down, or just so wrapped up in getting […]

3 Ways Expository Preaching Combats Biblical Illiteracy


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 […]

What it Takes to Get Important Things Done in Ministry


From my article this month at LifeWay’s Pastor’s Today blog: There is no shortage of activity in the pastor’s office these days. Everyone is busier than ever, pastors included. But being active does not mean you are impacting the lives of your people. Entire mornings slip away as you process email, dabble in your sermon text, and […]

5 Quick Tips for Giving a Great Job Performance Review


I just finished a rough draft for new job performance reviews at my church, and it got me thinking about what makes a review go well. Here are five tips I hope aren’t painfully obvious. 1. Nothing should be a surprise, nothing should be news. The review is not the time to unload weapons grade […]

5 Warning Signs Your Relationship with God Is Strictly Professional


I’m excited to have the opportunity to contribute to a new blog at LifeWay called Pastors Today. It is written by pastors for pastors, and addresses many of the challenges pastors face in ministry. My first article was posted yesterday: 5 Warning Signs Your Relationship with God Is Strictly Professional: “Ministry is more than a job. It’s […]

3 Wrong Roles Pastors Cast for Their Church Members


Between school plays, little league teams, and numerous other ways, we have all been given roles that we thought were below us. We wanted the leading role, but got curtain duty. We wanted to pitch, but got stuck in right field. What was that role for you? (Or maybe I’m just speaking for myself.) Like […]

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


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 […]

My Top 10 Posts from 2013


Tis the season for top ten of the year posts! Never one to enjoy being left out, here are the top ten articles of the past year here at Pastoralized. Thank you everyone who have read my musings on pastoral ministry this year. Thank you to everyone who linked to, tweeted, liked, or otherwise shared […]

22 Productivity Principles from the Book of Proverbs


The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about productivity. Not only does it teach us how we can be more productive, it teaches how we can be more biblically productive. Some of these principles you can find in secular productivity literature today. (Indeed, many of the proverbs can be found in secular ancient Near East […]

Impactful Pastors Are Offline Influencers


Here is a preview of my latest article at Christianity.com. You can find the whole thing here. The social media landscape can make the average person wonder if he can make an impact in the world today. If you take a look at well-known pastors, you can’t help but notice they are prolific, not only […]

3 Big Opportunities that Busy Pastors Miss


From my last article at Christianity.com: Busyness in ministry is an epidemic. As our world moves faster and faster, pastors are being sucked into a vortex of tasks, projects, emails, and goals. The problem is that when you get overwhelmed, you get tunnel vision. Your perspective of your church becomes as narrow as your to-do […]

10 Tips for Your Next Hospital Visit


Pastors should be prepared to minister when they step foot in a hospital room. With someone under your care in frail condition, this is no time to wing it. Visiting someone is not just about what you do once you are in the room, it is about being prepared before you arrive. You might feel […]

The Easier Path to Sermon Illustrations


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 […]

10 Productivity Experiments for Pastors


Pastors are busier than ever, but I’m pretty sure our ministries are not more fruitful than ever. How can we aim what we spend our time on toward what will be most effective for our ministries? How can we cut out what is least effective for our ministries? Since we’re both busy, I’ll cut to […]

5 Ways the Sin in Your Heart Shapes Your Ministry – From Paul Tripp

Paul Tripp, in Dangerous Calling (pp .119-120) lists five ways that our ministry is affected by what rules our heart. Do any of these apply to you? Do any of these not apply to you? “It is very difficult in ministry to give away what you do not possess yourself. In ways of which you are not always aware, […]

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


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 […]

Do You Hide Behind “Ministry Talk”?

Pastors love to talk shop. Conversations about church initiatives, structures, programs, and events crank up our adrenaline. Our body heat rises in theological conversations, debates over how to take a pivotal phrase in a verse, or discussions about the latest viral blog post. I call this phenomenon “ministry talk.” It’s not necessarily a bad thing. […]

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


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


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 […]

The Relationship Between Masculinity and Pastoral Authority

I remember the first time I worried if I was masculine enough. It was three years ago (I know, probably should have come sooner, right?) when my wife and I found out our second child would be a boy. Being a man is hard enough. How am I going to raise a man? Someone somewhere once said […]

Programmatic Ministry or Organic Ministry? Here’s a Third Option

My latest post at Christianity.com: “Moving the ministry of your church forward requires a delicate dynamic of giving and receiving between the leaders and members. If not monitored closely, this dynamic morphs into a tug-of-war match, which always ends up with one side tumbling. If not both. When the effort behind the ministry tugs toward […]

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)


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


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, […]