Monday Morning Preacher
Summary: Podcast by Preaching Today
For our fifth and final episode of Season 2 we sit down with Yancey Arrington, pastor in Houston, TX. Yancey is the master of creating tension in his sermons. That way he never loses the attention of his hearers. To illustrate this more practically we walk through Yancey’s sermon prep for his sermon “Hope in the Present” from Psalm 46. Yancey is very passionate about this topic and it completely comes through in this episode. We hope you can take some of the ideas he talks about and apply them in your sermons. If you would like to read the sermon discussed in this podcast you can find it here: https://www.preachingtoday.com/sermons/sermons/2019/may/hope-in-present.html
In this episode we sit down with Jeremy McKeen, pastor in West Palm Beach, FL. Jeremy does a great job reaching the skeptic in his preaching. So we discussed his sermon prep for his sermon “Building Up Your Faith” based on Hebrews 2:1-4. He also shares a fun story about having a preacher of great prominence show up one Sunday morning and listen to him preach. You will have to listen to the podcast to find out who this person was! If you would like to read the sermon discussed in this podcast you can find it here: https://www.preachingtoday.com/sermons/sermons/2019/may/building-up-your-faith.html
In our third episode we sit down with Patricia Batten. Patricia is a pastor, Ranked Adjunct Assistant Professor of Preaching, and the Associate Director of the Haddon W. Robinson Center for Preaching at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. We discuss her sermon prep leading up to the delivery of her sermon “God Takes Sin Seriously” based on 2 Samuel 24. But we also dig a little deeper into the impact Haddon Robinson had on her early in her calling as a pastor, but also at the end of Haddon’s teaching ministry. She shares some great nuggets of wisdom she learned from Haddon. If you would like to read the sermon discussed in this podcast you can find it here: https://www.preachingtoday.com/sermons/sermons/2019/may/god-takes-sin-seriously.html
In this episode we sit down with a long time contributor to Preaching Today, Lee Eclov. Lee is pastor in Lake Forest, IL. Let’s just say when Matt Woodley and Lee Eclov sit down to talk preaching it is a lot of fun. Lee has a pastor’s heart and shares from his bountiful wisdom, but this is one of the more winsome episodes this season. So sit back and enjoy two preachers talking preaching. If you would like to read the sermon discussed in this podcast you can find it here: https://www.preachingtoday.com/sermons/sermons/2019/may/where-does-my-help-come-from.html
Welcome back to Monday Morning Preacher. For this second season we are going to change things up a bit. We are going to sit down with one preacher in each episode and go behind the scenes of their sermon prep for a recent sermon they preached. In this first episode we go behind the scenes with Geoff Chang, pastor in Portland, Oregon, and discuss his sermon “What Is Success?” A sad event happened in the community of Portland while Geoff was prepping for this sermon. It came out that some leading church leaders were involved in some sinful actions and disqualified themselves from being leaders. And now Geoff has to prepare his sermon on Joshua 6-8, on God’s judgment, knowing people in his congregation are dealing with this recent news. Check out the interview to hear how he handled it! If you would like to read the sermon discussed in this podcast you can find it here: https://www.preachingtoday.com/sermons/sermons/2019/may/what-is-success.html
Some great preachers really know how to meddle. They get under my skin by subverting my comfortable ideas about "successful preaching." The 20th century preacher John Stott was definitely one of those subverters. Did you know that Stott seemed to have a favorite Bible passage for the craft of preaching? It was 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, the Apostle Paul's near-celebration of his weakness as a preacher. As Stott wryly noted, "Weakness would not be an accurate description of many evangelical preachers today. ... If Paul had enrolled as a student in one of our seminaries, we would have regarded him as exceedingly unpromising material." In our last episode of Season 1, we wrap up with some vintage Stott-ness on the theme of "Preaching Through Weakness." Listen to Uncle John: human weakness is a preacher's friend--assuming it throws us on the resources of the Holy Spirit.
How do you get the biblical text off the page, into your own heart and mind, and then into the lives of your people? Veteran preacher Robert J. Morgan, teaching pastor at the Donaldson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee, calls us back to the ancient and "lost art" of biblical meditation. Sure, meditation takes time and effort, but in the long run it actually saves time as the Scriptural big idea and structure become clear through pondering on the text's logic, flow, and emphasis. In this week's episode, I talk to Robert about how to incorporate biblical meditation into your sermon prep process.
By the time I get up to preach I've been living in the biblical text all week. Word studies, cultural background, theological implications, exegetical insights; I have a truckload of stuff to share about the text. But here's the problem: my people have not been living in the text. Pastor Daniel Fusco, Lead Pastor at Crossroads Community Church, calls it "Bible nerd land." But most of our people, even our Bible-reading, Bible-loving people do not live there. So how do we bring Jesus to our people at what Fusco calls "street level"? I explore that question with him in our latest episode.
Preaching should stir people to do something, believe something, change something, be something. It should move people to action, heroic deeds, or repentance. In short, lives should change—even if we can't always see it. But here's one of my constant struggles in my preaching: how do I challenge people to grow, love, change, obey, repent, give, etc., without throwing them back on their own pathetic spiritual resources? That is the danger of moralistic preaching. It sounds good (and some people really like it), but in the end it can make people proud, self-reliant, or hopeless. It makes people rely on themselves rather than the infinite love of the Father, grace of Jesus, and power of the Spirit. So in this episode, Kevin Miller and I analyze this harmful approach to preaching—what it is, what it is not, why we slip into it, and how to preach grace without compromising the biblical text's truth and challenge.
What do you bring into the pulpit when you preach? A complete manuscript, some notes, or no notes? I've always assumed this was one of those technical and trivial issues for geeky preachers. But when my friend Kevin Miller and I started exploring this as a topic for our Monday Morning Preacher podcast, we were struck by how emotional a lot of preachers get about this question. And it really matters. What you bring into the pulpit (manuscript, notes, or no notes) can affect how you connect with your text and with your people. So in this episode we break down the pros and cons of the three primary approaches.
After preaching for 25 years here's one surprising lesson: God wants to transform my soul through the sermon prep process. Pastor Peter Scazzero, formerly the senior pastor of New Life Church in Queens, New York, calls this process "The Life Cycle of the Sermon." It's a cycle that follows a familiar pattern: birth (you get the sermon idea), death (you struggle to put the sermon together), burial (it gets even worse), resurrection (you preach it), ascension (you leave your sermon in God's hands). We break it all down and show how it can change your life in this week's episode.
At some point in our weekly sermon prep process we need to slow down, put aside our agenda or preconceived notions, and listen to what God is saying through his Word. How do you do that every week? Of course illustrations and applications are important. But how and when in the process do you take time to get the text right? That’s what we unpack in this episode.
In this episode, ummmmm, we take a look at, ummmmmm, three important parts of sermon delivery, ummmmm: Movement, Gestures, and, ummmmm, Filler Words. Okay, as you can see filler words can become a little annoying for our hearers. You were probably annoyed with only the four above. But it isn't only filler words that can cause our hearers to be distracted in our preaching. That is why we are also talking about some tips for using movement and gestures to further your delivery. Also, in case you missed it, you should check out Part 1 of this series, but after you finish up this episode. In Part 1 we discuss vocal variety and eye contact. We hope that these two episodes challenge you to take a look at your delivery. Find some ways to grow, learn, and maybe do some things that are a little uncomfortable for you, but it could lead to more natural and normal conversations.
I was about 22 and a new believer when a tall, odd-looking preacher came to my new home church in Edina, Minnesota. They said his name was Haddon Robinson. I can’t remember what he preached on. I just remembered how he preached—with authority and yet tenderness, with eloquence and yet relevance. Haddon had gravitas in the pulpit. He spoke to my heart and my mind. And because he believed and felt what he said in that sermon, my heart was stirred by God’s Word that day. Who has influenced you as preacher? Which preachers have ignited your heart with the high call of preaching? Who are your preaching mentors, preachers who teach you about the craft of preaching? As a consummate, lifelong preaching learner, I need mentors and models of good preaching. We all do. That’s why in this week’s episode I talk with one of my fellow preachers, Bryan Wilkerson from Grace Chapel in Boston, to reminisce about the lessons we’ve both learned from one of our preaching mentors—Dr. Haddon Robinson. Bryan shares some humorous, challenging, and tender stories about this great man of God who has influenced thousands of preachers.
I think a lot of us preachers have picked up some bad sermon "delivery habits." Of course I'm a huge proponent of finding your unique preaching voice, but then again, that doesn't excuse my poor, untrained delivery mechanisms, including things like volume, speed, pitch, gestures, facial expressions, and filler words. For instance, when I go off script, I tend to say "you know" a lot. It gets annoying for my hearers. As one of my beloved mentors, Dr. Haddon Robinson (who passed away a few weeks ago), used to say, “While ministers spend hours every week on sermon construction, they seldom even give a few hours a year to thinking about their delivery.” As always, Haddon had a good point. So, in this week's episode we start exploring the basics of sermon delivery.