Impactful Pastors Are Offline Influencers

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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

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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

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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

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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 [...]

10 Productivity Experiments for Pastors

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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

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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 [...]

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

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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 [...]

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)

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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 [...]

7 Disastrous Results of Letting Your Personal Fulfillment Drive Your Ministry

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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

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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 [...]

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

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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

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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 [...]