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, [...]

2 Things You Must Do with Your Sermons


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


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!


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


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”


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 [...]

7 Disastrous Results of Letting Your Personal Fulfillment Drive Your Ministry


I was struck by something Ray Ortlund said in a blog post recently: “I am not impressed by young pastors who seem too eager to publish books and speak at big events and get noticed.” It’s as if men get in the ministry and treat the first few years like the kid who shoots hoops [...]

12 Steps to Strong Sermon Illustrations


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 [...]

A Small Group Ministry Book Review: “Creating Community” by Andy Stanley and Bill Willits


Having just started a role where I am responsible for revitalizing and leading a small group ministry, I have begun reading the most popular books on small groups. I have intentionally snagged books from churches from a wide philosophy of ministry range. I hope to learn and glean from pastors who are outside my box. [...]

Shepherd Links – 5/25

Prophet Links Top Ten Ways to Make Your Preaching Clearer Getting Through a Preaching Slump “I’m no expert on either preaching or getting out of slumps. But doodling tonight, I thought of six things that might help.” Luther on Preaching “A young overwhelmed preacher complained to Luther that preaching was too heavy a burden for [...]

13 Email Tips to Keep Your Inbox Under Control and Get Things Done


For many of us, email is a work killer. We have enough work apart from our inbox inventory to keep us busy for weeks. And that work is usually much more important than what pops up in our inbox. I am one month into a new pastoral role, and one of the most notable differences [...]

5 Ways Pastors Spiritually Benefit From Preaching Expository Sermons


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 [...]

Shepherd Links – 3/30

Prophet Links 8 Reasons We Preach There are so many factors involved. I don’t want to ponder issues of pay (many preachers receive less than minimum wage for what they are doing). I don’t want to dwell on inappropriate motivations, even if they are significant for some. I will just mention some of them in passing. Let’s [...]

How to Do Accountability in Your Small Group, Even If There Are Visitors

A commenter raised a good question in my previous post on doing both edification and evangelism in your small group. It was one of those comments that bloggers really appreciate. He engaged with a point I was actually trying to make, and he presented his counter point with sincerity. As I typed out my answer in [...]

3 Reasons Your Small Group Can Edify and Evangelize at the Same Time


Many churches believe their small groups must choose either an edification focus or an evangelistic focus. This argument goes that for small groups to be a place where mature Christians grow there needs to be deep theological conversation and regular accountability. These both require time and trust, which are hard to come by if new [...]

Shepherd Links – 3/23

Prophet Links 12 Types of Sermon Introductions A quick video from David Murray that is sure to help you avoid getting stuck early in your sermon writing. Beware These Preaching Shortcuts From Erik Raymond “We like shortcuts assuming that they get us to where we are trying to go. If they do not then they [...]

A Big Announcement and Shepherd Links – 3/16

Hello, everyone! I’m excited to let you know that I will be making a transition in pastoral roles this April. After almost five years of serving as Jr. High Pastor at College Church, I will be taking on the role of Pastor for Gospel Community at Chapel Hill Bible Church in North Carolina. By God’s [...]

Shepherd Links – 3/2

I’ve got a busy weekend, so I’m posting titles sans previews. But trust me, these are links you are going to want to click. Prophet Links Top 200 Preaching Resources Awesome collection from David Murray (longtime readers of this blog will recognize several!). We MUST Be Theologians 7 Ways to Do a Bad Word Study [...]

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


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: [...]

Shepherd Links – 2/23

Prophet Links Why the Afterlife Bores Us From Russell Moore: “We’re glad we’re not going to hell or to oblivion. But most of our songs and sermon mentions are about that first few moments in heaven: when we see Jesus, when we’re reunited with our loved ones, and so on. It’s like the happy ending [...]

Shepherd Links – 2/16

Prophet Links Why Study Church History? Getting Beyond American-Evangelical Amnesia From Don Sweeting: “Our culture disposes us to a short term memory. We’re a relatively young nation. We are present-oriented. And when it comes to the past, we have amnesia.  Sadly, American Evangelicalism does not escape these trends. So what’s the benefit of studying history?  It’s [...]

Suffering for the Gospel in Unity with Jesus


Part of what makes suffering in ministry hard is the loneliness you feel in the midst of the difficulty. For this reason, I am comforted by the New Testament passages that show our suffering in ministry is not apart from Christ, but in unity with him. According to the New Testament, Jesus suffers with his [...]

Shepherd Links – 2/2

Prophet Links 5 Reasons Why Christians Need to Hear the Gospel From David Murray: “In his opening chapter of Preaching Christ from the Old Testament, Sidney Greidanus lists five reasons for preaching Christ today.” Preaching to the Collective Heart From Tim Keller: “Recently, a couple of books and websites have referenced me as a good example [...]