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a raging river

Ron Phillips: The Cost of Grace

The movie A River Runs Through It is narrated by Norman, one of the main characters. He makes this statement about his father, a minister:

“My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things – trout as well as eternal salvation – came by grace; and grace comes by art; and art does not come easy.”

While we rightly view grace as a free gift, grace always costs someone something. read more

Boredom-at-church-smaller

8 Ways You Might Be Losing People in Your Sermons

Are you losing people when you preach? Do people check out during your sermons?

After listening to thousands of sermons and preaching quite a few myself, I have learned eight different ways that pastors lose people in their sermons.

1. Sloppy transitions. You just told a great story. It was funny and thought-provoking. But as soon as the story ended, you suddenly switched direction and started talking about something else.

Wait, what? Slow down. How did we get from that funny thing your kid did to some old guy in the Old Testament?

Where is the connection? read more

exciting-church-small

Shouldn’t a Church Service Be Exciting?

“Pastor, the minute you decide church must always be exciting is the moment you begin turning the worship services into pep rallies. After that, it all goes downhill.”

I said that on Facebook the other day and enraged a few people.

“Worshiping the Lord should always be exciting,” one person insisted. I replied, “I’m doing the funeral of a 53-year-old man today. It will be comforting, but not exciting.”

I understand where the guy is coming from. read more

Elated-pastor

Word-Wrangling: A New Rodeo Event for Preachers?

I’m not sure most of us preachers fully believe the scriptural command to avoid word fights:

“Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers” (2 Tim. 2:14, NASB).

After all, aren’t some words worth wrangling over?

“Wrangling about words” conjures images of cowboys at the corral trying to tame a bucking theological term that won’t hold still. read more

Greg-Atkinson

How to Plan Your Preaching More Effectively

Everywhere I go, I hear that song playing. It’s on TV, radio, at ball games, in convenient stores—all over.

It’s gotten stuck in my head. So I started thinking on the title and reflecting on past experiences and conversations.

I started thinking about how many pastors stay up late Saturday night working on their Sunday morning message, hoping to get “lucky.” Hoping they will deliver and come through with excellence. Friends, it doesn’t work like that. read more

Rick-Warren-Book-small

How to Preach With Authenticity

The kind of preaching that changes lives is from the heart to the heart, not from the head to the head. Lives are changed as we speak from our deepest pain and suffering.

Socrates was the first to explain communication in three dimensions. He talked about ethos as the speaker’s character, pathos as the speaker’s compassion, and logos as the speaker’s content. We tend to think most about the content of a sermon, but the people to whom we are speaking perceive all three, and ethos is really the most vital of all three dimensions. read more

Confident-man-mistakes-small

Do You Doubt Like Thomas?

We know Thomas best by his famous statement soon after Jesus’ resurrection:

“Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.” (See John 20.)

We tend to think of Thomas’ lack of faith because of Jesus’ response a few days later when he showed Thomas his hands and side: “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”

A closer look at Thomas might help us understand him better and learn from his approach. read more

D-MinLead Communication

How Is Your Eternity Quotient?

Have you ever had one of those long daydreaming moments while you were should be praying? I certainly have. You know the scenario: You are supposed to be talking to the Lord, and you suddenly find yourself somewhere else mentally!

One recent morning was one of those times for me, when I caught myself daydreaming about eternity. My thoughts did not simply focus on what eternity would be like or when God would call me to heaven. Instead, I mused on how current-day believers seem to focus very little on eternity. Thinking over my 27 years as a Christian, I seem to remember much more emphasis on our eternal reward than I hear today. It seems like things have shifted to the point where many believe our best life is now. read more

Artie-Davis-blog

3 Essential Points for Every Sermon

I enjoy speaking and preaching in our church. Honestly, though, for years it was difficult to get ahead in thought and stay focused with a simple plan for each sermon.

Yeah, I know, I took homiletics too. However, I’m a very simple guy who needs a simple but effective thought process that allows me to pray and study through a subject and stay on point all the way through.

A couple of years ago I “discovered” (only by God’s mercy on a simple-minded leader) a process I have found to be very powerful. read more

Bucket-pail

What Items Were on Jesus’ Bucket List?

Somewhere in the councils of the Trinity, a plan was devised for the restoration of the world. Among His other assignments, these fell on the bucket list of the Son of God:

1. Be conceived and born as a human.

2. Live a sinless life.

3. Gather a dedicated following.

4. Equip them. read more

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Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders