Pastor to Pastor: 4 Ways to Develop Your Preaching Voice

My name is Dave, I am a natural introvert who absolutely loves to preach.

Sounds odd doesn’t it?

My craft and my demeanor don’t come natural; both have been (and still are) in a stage of development. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my reserved or withdrawn tendencies. But the nature of my vocation has drawn me out of the safety of my solitude to develop a side of me I never thought I could access.

Stepping into ministry, I had very little experience with preaching. My youth pastor granted me a couple of opportunities in youth group that stretched me beyond belief. In bible college, I preached a few times in homiletic class. Apparently I didn’t do so well as I had a couple of friends pull me aside and tell me that preaching wasn’t my “gift” and I would have “difficultly finding a position.”

In fact, after my very first Sunday morning sermon EVER, a lady approached me in the lobby right after and said, “Can you put in the church bulletin when the pastor is out of the pulpit so I can go somewhere else and actually get fed?” Awesome.

So, all in all, I was very “green” and in need of some shaping.

I remember in the first few months of ministry, my dad handed me a sermon series on cassette tapes from T.D. Jakes. I found myself listening to them while I’d set up for youth group. I cannot remember what the series was on, I only remember what it did in me. Regardless of what you think about Bishop Jakes, his style and presentation ignited my heart. I felt like the Holy Spirit spoke something to me that I’ll never forget:

My “preaching voice” was more than what I have been handed but a gift that needs be developed.

I’m working on a blog/message about pastoral evolution as, I believe, us pastors do not stop learning and growing. We should be able to look back and see patterns of growth and development. God has granted us positions and opportunities and with what God has given, we are called to be stewards. Stewards don’t bury the gift; they do something the gift. We do not sit on it, we manage and develop it. And, I believe, preaching is no exception.

You need develop your “preaching voice.” I’m not necessarily talking about having a certain tone or fluctuation (even though, that’s certainly part of it). I speak of growing and honing;  learning and shifting. I’m not the same preacher I was 20 years ago (thank the Lord). I’m also not the same preacher I was 10 years ago. God has used seasons and examples to help “evolve” the mentality, passion, and presentation of how I proclaim the good news of Jesus.

So today, I thought I’d share how God’s has (and is still) helping me grow my “preaching voice.” My hopes is that you’d allow the voice you have to grow and develop in the hands of the Holy Spirit.

Don’t be T.D.
News flash, I’m not T.D. Jakes. Though imitation (I hear) is the highest form of flattery, I’m not called to be someone else; I’m called to be David Barringer. There’s a difference between “gleaning” and “being.” My insecurities can get the best of me and think, “if that works for him, maybe it’ll work for me.” Don’t allow your insecurities to rob you of the joy of proclaiming hope in Jesus because you are not [insert favorite preacher]. Do not allow envy of how someone preaches diminish (1) what God has blessed you with and (2) what He wants to develop in you. But that brings me to…

Don’t ignore T.D.
As much as I need to be “me,” I can glean from others as to hone my “voice.” You cannot get the attitude that you can’t listen to others so you can be yourself. As preachers, I think one of the best ways to fine-tune your voice is to listen to a variety of preaching voices in a variety of preaching genres.

I listen to a variety of others who’ve helps show me ways to grow in a variety of ways that have honed my “preaching voice.”

For passion in preaching, I’ve gleaned from Steven Furtick.
For raw authenticity, I’ve gleaned from Perry Noble (but I can’t say the raw things he says…I’d get fired).
For connecting scripture to every-day life, Lysa TerKeurst.
For getting people to laugh, Jim Gaffigan (yes I know he’s not a “preacher”).
For developing words and phrases to help people remember the message, Andy Stanley is great.
For conversational preaching, Levi Lusko is tremendous.
For story telling, Judah Smith is a favorite.

I could make a longer list of preachers with the likes of Beth Moore, Rob Ketterling, Jud Wilhite, Chris Hodges, Craig Groeschel, Mark Batterson and so many more. I’ll learn from anyone. Exposure is important and in the age of podcasts and video casts, there is literally no excuse why we can expose ourselves to a variety of voices to challenge and grow our own. Which leads me to…

The conjoined twins: Presentation and Preparation
When I get hear a presentation, I think about preparation. Presenting the message and how it’s prepared work hand-in-hand. As your preaching voice develops, so will the way you prepare. Why does that change? When you position yourself to be stretched in the “what” it directly challenges the “how.” Some areas that will go through some “evolution” will be:

Locations you study and locations you write (may not be the same).
Times you study and times you write (I’m a morning person, afternoons are for meetings).
Places and times to seek the face of God for direction (I prefer walks in solitude).
How to collect information (tools, journals, files in the cloud, etc.)
Where you collect the information from (books, blogs, preachers, etc).
Forecasting future messages (learning to plan ahead).

If I’m not preparing well, I can’t present well. And as much as these things are all a part of my week, I’ve held them loosely in my hands as to allow the Holy Spirit to shift them and change them a bit as to grow me. Which, lastly, leads me to…

Be overly sensitive
I’m not talking about being overly sensitive emotionally, but to be extremely sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  My desire is not to chase “change” and, in the same breath, not to fight “change.” I want to be constantly open to that which the Spirit of God wants to do in and through me and nothing is off-limits to Him.  There was an old chorus I grew up on:

Change me Lord, into your image
Rearrange me Lord, cause me to grow
From glory to glory
Change me Lord I pray
Into your image more each day.

I cannot expect change in others I, myself, am not open to. And as I am open to the Holy Spirit, He helps guide the growth I need and the development of the message in my heart. I’ve watched Him use moments to fine-tune my life. I’ve seen the Holy Spirit open my eyes to life experiences to be used as sermon illustrations. The Holy Spirit is faithful and is always speaking. It’s just a matter of whether we will listen and obey.

There’s probably more to go into, but this is where I will stop. As I’ve said before, I’m not the same preacher I was 20 years ago or even 10 years ago and, I hope, to not be the same preacher after this next decade of ministry.

What are your influences? What has helped you grow your “preaching voice”?

Love you all. Praying over you as you to “proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: My new book of my blogs came out. Click on the image to order yours!!

 

Pastor to Pastor: 10 Ways I Keep My Passion to Pastor

From the get-go: If you are a pastor struggling with your passion, then I am writing this to encourage you.

I love being a pastor. And, more specifically, I love pastoring Kfirst.

I don’t just say that flippantly. I’m not just speaking by faith some word into existence hoping my feelings catch up to it. Nor am I trying to “prove anything” to myself or anyone else. I genuinely love pastoring this amazingly awesome and imperfect church. But this isn’t just me. In the wake of hearing the other day, once again, the statistic of well over a 1000 pastors resigning every month, I have recently come across other pastors and missionaries who feel exactly what I feel about where God has called them.

My minister friends, this is how it should be.

I’ll admit, in the past, I’ve been skeptical of others who were a little bit “too passionate” about ministry. I thought they were either newer or were not facing any of the type of challenges that I was dealing with. I’d find myself avoiding them as they, quite frankly, annoyed me. But, if I were to be really honest, it wasn’t them personally that bothered me. It was the envy in my heart for what they had and what I lacked. It was a tough place to minister out of because my happiness was dependent upon everything else BUT the Lord.

Having a passion about ministry doesn’t equate to massive numbers or packed events (though I do enjoy both). Possessing deep joy doesn’t necessarily depend upon any denomination (or lack thereof), title, or church. This overwhelming sensation is all about being where God placed you and the joy of walking obedience to Him.

Deep passion doesn’t mean you don’t face tough seasons. I’ve come to realize that the more you want to do for the Lord, the greater the giants you’ll face. Personally, Kfirst still faces the challenge of an aging building and a community still growing into it. We’re still trying to discover how to stop being so “program-dependent” and develop the systems needed to facilitate personal discipleship and corporate growth.  I get frustrated that people want an event to do outreach corporately but refuse to do it personally. Do you still get hurtful comments? Me too. From unsigned cowardly notes to those making critical comments to me right before the service starts (sucks to preach with that on your mind).  These things happen in ministry. You are human. So are the people you minister to. And I believe that all of these things are pivot points in which we can live in frustration or continue pivot forward toward what God has called you to do.

So I sit back in my parent’s cabin and thought I’d pen-out (type out) some of the changes that I feel the Holy Spirit challenged me to make over the past 4-5 years that, I believe have stoked my passion:

  1. I tweaked my prayers from “Lord change the people in my church” to “Lord, let the change start with me.”
    • It may sound cliché, but “be the change.” Don’t expect something in your congregation that you are not opening to doing. My passion for change in people is fueled by the work the Holy Spirit is doing in me.
  2. I got back to journaling. 
    • This has been a game-changer to passion in my personal life and sermon prep. It has helped me process thoughts as I’m in the Word or reflecting over things the Lord has laid upon my heart. Passion, unrealized is potential. And potential is nothing unless it is accessed and released.
  3. I started running. 
    • Passion is fed on every level (spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional). For me, this was more than just “getting in shape.” Though the physical health benefits have helped me, there are tremendous emotional and mental ramifications to getting exercise.  Besides, a spend time on my runs talking to the Lord and spending time listening to Him.
    • SIDE NOTE: You’re congregation need you to take care of yourself.  A healthier leader = better preacher and stronger leader.
  4. I stopped leading ministries. 
    • My passion was depleting as it was being spent in so many directions. I needed to listen to Paul’s word to Ephesus when he said to, “equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church.” We pastors should be pouring into people and launching leaders. The more we step back and allow people to step up, the less the church will be about us and the more it will be about Jesus.
  5. I changed my “hours of operation.”
    • I literally love waking up passionate about what I do and I don’t wait till 9 to start work. I’m focused and creative in the early mornings and can get so much accomplished before the sun comes up. In saying that, most of my evenings are spoken for as most people who I need to connect to work during the day.  I’ve creatively approached my hours to create margin for marriage, family, and ministry.
  6. I frequent the same local businesses during the week.
    • It’s easy to get lost in your office and never see the light of day. From where I get my coffee in the mornings, to lunches, to where I go to get my haircut, I want to engage with people in our community. I’ve learned their stories, brought them donuts, developed friendships, and get to do one of their weddings.
  7. I give people the benefit of the doubt. 
    • I was wasting passion fixating on assuming the worst. A simple rule: assume the best in others. I needed to learn to look at people, not through the surface lens of my perspective but how the Lord looks at them. This deeper look into people literally changed my attitude overnight. It’s helped me look for ways to build bridges for healing instead of destroying relationships by disregarding personalities. Which leads me to…
  8. I’ve stopped being so serious all the time. 
    • Looking for the negative in life is like catching a cold; you don’t have to do anything to get it. I like looking for the lighter side of  life. Yes, I know reaching people is a serious thing, but I’ve learned that for people, laughter is a bridge to the seeing the heart of God. Personally, amusement has become my best medication to frustration and depression. I believe one of the most spiritual things you can do is laugh. We as pastors should be conduits of joy and not hammers of judgement.
  9. I study pastors/churches.
    • I used to get depressed looking at the successes of pastors and/or churches as my own pastoral insecurities got the best of me.  I was missing out on the wealth of creativity and Kingdom-building ideas that God was doing around the world. I want to sit and listen to pastors. I want to read their books and listen to their podcasts.   I’ve recognized that I can AND need to learn from everyone regardless of their age, experience, church size, or denomination. We should be a Kingdom of collaboration and not a group of “Religious Silos.”
  10. I stopped fighting change. 
    • I don’t look to change for the sake of “change.” But I’m doing my best to not give God an excuse every time He starts testing my comfort zone. I was depleting my passion by wasting strength fighting God on keeping the things I didn’t want to change. The more I’ve opened up to the change He wants to make, the more joy has been released in my life and in ministry.

Sorry this was so long. But this has been burning in my heart over the past month (as it’s taken me a month to finish journaling about it).

My prayer for you is that of David in Psalm 51:12,

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.”

Ask God to do a new work of passion in you. And as He leads you, follow with willingness. As you become more passionate, so will the congregations you lead.

Love you. Praying for you.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Pastor to Pastor: Getting and Gathering Sermon Ideas

Prepping for sermons…well, I love prepping (said in the voice of Stanley from “The Office” from the pretzel day episode).

I love preaching. Declaring the love of Christ to people is such an amazing privilege that I do not take lightly. It’s why I go full-tilt on my preaching preparation. My wife will tell you, my mind NEVER turns off of preaching prep. It’s good in the sense of having my radar up constantly to get and gather material. The negative, I struggle with turning it off as to enjoy myself. Thus, the reason why I needed to develop tactics and tools to help me in my message and sermon series prep.

Over the past couple years, I’ve been contacted about my practical approach to this, specifically, how I accumulate (get and gather) ideas and information.  Usually, the end of those conversations end with a request for a blog with the list of them.

I’ve found out that many ministers regulate research and ideas to office time.  Or, some will get ideas and don’t know how to organize them.  I want to make this as simple and practical as possible. I don’t consider myself a “specialist” on the subject, as it’s taken me years to work out what fits me and my personality type. Most of these tactics and tools require very little to no investment and they fit the type of person I am.  

But the key: These tactics and tools work for me. And that’s what you’ve got to discover for you. This is not an exhaustive list as you may uncover other ways/tactics. If you have something to add to the list…PLEASE SHARE!

First: Where I get ideas: 

  • Time in the Word
    • It’s incredibly difficult to hear a word for your congregation if you’re not in the Word yourself. It’s also important to note that if the Word isn’t challenging you, it’s probably not going to challenge your church community. Personal time in your bible can produce ideas, messages, and series but it shouldn’t be the goal. The goal is always a greater revelation of Christ and His Kingdom.
  •  Prayer
    • I know the scripture in James 1:19 is in the context of anger, but there is some beautiful wisdom for us as preachers. We should be “slow to speak and quick to listen.” We ought to be very quick to position our minds and heart to quiet ourselves and listen for the Spirit of the Lord to speak to our hearts. Which leads to my next thought…
  • Books
    • You’re heard it said, “leaders are readers.” I think it’s true.  But I have to admit, it’s not natural for me at all. I’m slow at it. I don’t comprehend at rates others do so it takes me time to take in what the author is saying. But it’s out of positioning myself with a variety of authors and subjects that the Lord has stirred ideas and thoughts. 
  • Running/walking
    • If you have time to pray, you’ve got time to walk. I start working well before the office hours begin. Sometime in the afternoon, I like to take a break from studies and counseling to go for a run. The exercise helps both clearing out the mind as well as providing necessary exercise for the body. I listen to podcasts of preachers for part of my run. I spend another part just praying over people. It may sound like multitasking, but it’s what works for me. 
    • NOTE: Pastors, your congregation needs you to get exercise, eat right, and be healthy. “Burning out for Jesus” doesn’t burn with Holy Spirit fire to give God glory, it burns with pride and makes people look at you. I’m not promoting a size or shape but promoting healthy habits that lead to a healthy life (see my post “Slave to the Scale“). 
  • Podcasts
    • I LOVE getting my creativity stretched by other preachers. Each preacher stretches me with both content and delivery. And the more I can get outside of my little Kfirst sphere and my denominational comfort zone, the more I can glean from the Kingdom of God and be a better man and preacher for it. 
  • Social media/websites/blogs
    • From a church/pastoral blog to Instagram accounts, I follow a variety of people, groups, and churches. We serve a creative God who, through His church, has amazing creativity. Don’t be afraid to see not just what others are doing but how they’re shaping the Message. Check out their approaches. See their promotional strategy.  Remember: We are not in competition with others. WE ARE ON THE SAME TEAM AND PART A HIS KINGDOM. We are in a Kingdom of collaboration. Look at others. What you want, get permission to use. Let people in the Kingdom be iron sharpening iron
    • For example, a graphic artist wrote a blog about God leading us from Point A to Point B. I felt the Holy Spirit lead me to write down the idea.  A few years later, the Lord started stirring me toward a series on how God led Israel from captivity (Point A to the Promised Land (Point B).
      A2B Slide
      Series A2B

      The series was called “A2B.” One blog title turned into a series of messages and people encountered Christ because of it.  I thought he should know about it as well as to encourage him.

  • Living life (fun, vacation, struggles, etc.)
    • I don’t enjoy time with my family to get something to share, but my engagement in life naturally gives opportunity to connect the spiritual to the practical. So many times, Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is like…” He connected the Kingdom to things in the culture that people were familiar with. These metaphors or illustrations helped bridge the gap between mystery and understanding. Enjoy life. Engage with your families in life. Serve in your community. And the more you live, the more stories you’ll develop. You’ll no longer be depending upon some book of “101 Great Sermon Illustrations.” Why? You’re developing them right now. People want to connect to the human being on the stage. And the best way, I believe is for them to hear about how you are still working, growing, and yes, sometimes struggling.  
    • NOTE: Never share a family story without permission. I don’t share about my wife or the children unless they give me permission. 

Second: How do I gather and develop ideas?

My whiteboard – $20 (for the hardware)

 

 

 

I literally found a piece of plexiglass in a closet in a church. Paint the side facing the wall and add a couple decorative bolts and you’ve got a whiteboard. As I’m thinking, I sketch out thoughts. I’ll write out scriptures in one color and work out ideas with other colors. It helps me look at the main thought/point and work out of it while being able to go back and reference it.

My schedule – $0

My calendar has a weekly flow to it (even if I’m not preaching on Sunday).  From planned time to study to taking a break from books to go for a run to pray over the message, I do my best to keep a schedule.  Monday mornings at the coffeehouse is about getting my mind off of the previous Sunday and fixed upon the next message. Tuesday and Wednesday mornings are about crafting the message. Saturday morning is about prayer and focus.

Something I’ve built into my schedule is “future” message time.

 

 

 

 

On Monday afternoons, I spend time in prayer over the preaching calendar. It’s at this time I spend time seeking and listening to God regarding the upcoming 4-6 months of the preaching calendar. That leads me to…

My “future series” calendar – $30 chalkboard from Hobby Lobby; $6 for the chalk markers

 

 

 

This might be the most expensive piece in my office. I use the colored tape to mark out how the series flow (start and stop). It helps give me an overview as to how the year looks. Some of the pieces have the names of the series. Some are blank. Usually, I have locked in the direction of the next 3-4 series as it helps me in my prep.

My Google File – Free (for 15GB)

 

 

 

 

Having a filing system at my fingertips is huge. From laptop, iPad, or iPhone, any idea or thought can go right into the appropriate file. I always add a hashtag onto the name of the current series as it keeps the file at the top (as seen in the pic as #Playlist).  The next series is always in this located on this screen as it’s there for easy access (for some reason, the next series “Pivot Point” was cut off of the graphic). Obviously, with the filename “Future Series and Messages,” it shows the catchall location for any ideas that come from prayer and research.

My Journal – $3-5

 

 

 

 

Sometimes you’ve got to close the computer and physically write things down. I can’t carry my Whiteboard in my backpack, so this is my way to sketch thoughts and connecting thoughts. Sometimes I’ll draw out an idea of graphics. Other times, I’ll write the heart of the message/series and, than underneath it, try out some titles.

My Wall – $5.99 per large sheet of foam-board (creates roughly 12 sermon plates)

 

 

 

The “wall” reminds me of the series we have covered with our congregation. Part of it helps me steward what we’ve studied as a congregation. The very practical side: We want to steward the graphics of the past series as to make sure we don’t have the same look and feel of other series. I remember something I heard on Food Network: People eat with their eyes first. I’ve taken that to proclaiming the Word. Graphics are not primary as  Jesus is primary. But a name and graphic can trigger interest as well as remind someone of the Word that was proclaimed.  

My “Preaching” Bible – $2.99 for the package of red pens 

 

 

 

 

This may seem small, but it’s a big deal to me. Since pastoring at Kfirst, I started with a fresh bible and started underlining my main preaching texts and dating them in red. It helps me be a steward of the Word in regards to what I’m bringing to our congregation. As ideas and creativity come to me, I like to get into the Word and see if and when I as a pastor have visited that passage and when that happened.

This may see like much, but over the past 7 years of being the Lead Pastor, it’s the practical way that I approach the getting, gathering, and the developing of messages and series information/creativity. The success of this blog is that you will discover, perhaps, a new way to help steward this amazing privilege that we preachers have in delivering the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I love you all.  I’m praying that our creative God will give you creativity beyond what you could ask for or imagine. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Social-Media Church: 8 Reasons why you should encourage your congregation to post while you preach.

I’m a proponent of social-media.  Like it or not, it’s here and we have an opportunity to utilize it as an amazing tool for our preaching. The words “Hear, O Israel” in Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us that God wanted his instructions to have the maximum reach.  He didn’t want anyone to miss out on what he was saying.  Why can’t we have bigger vision for our sermons by being strategic by encouraging social-media during the message? 

Here’s a few thoughts on why you should be okay with people on their phones/tablets during the message (and yes, I know I’m using Deuteronomy to support social-media): 

1. People remember more when they write/type something down.  People tend to process more of what they write down (I’ve heard people remember 85% more of they hear by writing it down).  Therefore, while they’re thumbs are frantically flying across their screen, they’re focusing on what was said.  And yes I recognize they could be missing the next few words of the message.  But think about this: We’re upping the percentage of retention. Why wouldn’t we ask them to tweet/post?  Why did God tell the Israelites to write down the greatest commandment in Deuteronomy 6? He didn’t want them to EVER forget it.  Why wouldn’t we want the congregation to have the same approach?

2. Social-media networks are VERY frequented locations. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” God told Israel, when it came to the greatest commandment, to write it down in the place where their family and their guests passed by every day.    People have to process what said while they’re thumbs are frantically flying across their screen.

3. Our memory isn’t as good as we think (at least for most of us).  We only have so much room to work and everything battles for space in our minds. I think of when people ask me to say a “happy birthday” or “happy anniversary” from the pulpit.  It’s a crapshoot with a mind that is so tuned into a sermon. I forget those requests all too often.  Often, I tweet/post and forget. It’s not till there’s been a favorite, retweet, like, share, etc. that gives me a reminder of what I posted.  God had Israel “bind them as a sign on your hand” as if to say, what ever you do with your hands, you’re going to get a reminder of what I said.

4. Reminds me, as the preacher, to keep things simpler. You hear it every Thanksgiving.  “I’m not sure what I ate but it was good.” If we give people too much info, they might feel fed, but they won’t know what they ate because there was so much.

I will put my main points into twitter frequently.  It’s not to necessarily post them.  It’s to see if they fit into 144 characters (with the hashtag). Long sermons might sound really spiritual, but they’re not more effective.  Having short, memorable (tweet-able) statements have a greater capacity for sticking in a persons memory as they walk away from the service to retain, talk about, and live out. How can you help people remember so that they “shall be on your heart” (*their heart)? Make them tweet-able.

For some help, Preaching Rocket does an excellent job constantly doing blogs and video-casts about developing “Sticky Statements.”

5. Gives a place to revisit. This is a bit like #2.  As a teenager, I started taking sermon notes. Part of it was to stay awake (it’s okay to admit). The other side was to re-read and retain.  More often than not, the bulletin cover was accidentally lost, thrown away, or left in my pocket and gone through the wash.  Encouraging posting/tweeting gives an easily accessible place to revisit over and over to get that one or two main points of a message. (Unless you’re like my wife and post EVERYTHING from a message.) Writing them “on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” was a place to revisit over and over.

6. Social-media, like it or not, is what our younger generations use to communicate to each other. Part of me says, I’d rather have them in church tweeting and listening than sitting at home tweeting and not here.  The other side says, give them something to tweet about. I give my kids permission to tweet during the service.  90% of the time it’s about the message.  The other 10% is this:

Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” To a generation who, literally, tweets/posts while they sit in the house, walk by the way, etc…why not give them something to tweet about? Even better, mom and dad, why not talk with them about what they tweet after the service.  Take the message to the next step with them. 

7. Make it fun and interactive. Some people make church anything but fun.  We’ve challenged people to do selfies during congregational greeting, pictures of their families sitting in the same row, and groupies of the people who sit around them.  It’s fun.  But behind the fun is getting people to engage with others around them.  I’ll Instagram from the front row shots of missionaries speaking or videos of the worship team. People will post weird things I say.  It keeps it light and fun and, again, more engaging for people. 

8. Keeps the conversation going. When you encourage people to post, where do their posts go? On the Facebook wall and Twitter feed (not to forget Instagram and Snapchat).  I see it every Sunday.  People from the congregation start interacting with each other on the fun and the serious stuff.  Even better,  people who do not attend church start engaging in the points.  Think about it: a 40 minute (ish) message goes on longer (and perhaps more affective) because of social-media and a pastor’s careful heart to make things “tweet-able.”  Use hashtags to help meld together the posts and you’ve got yourself a social-media conversation that can go on all week.  Again, the words “Hear, O Israel” in Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us that God wanted his instructions to reach everyone.  Opening up the conversation that you began on Sunday to the entire social-media network world is a great (and free) way to reach people you will never see and/or interact with.  

I’m a preacher who loves to preach.  I’m also a preacher who always wants to be better at my craft.  If God has given you any gift/ability, then you are called to be a steward of that gift.  Sometimes being a steward is stepping back to take a new look at what you have (or what you are doing). Perhaps if worked hard to give better quality and less quantity mixed with more engagement, we’ll have better effectiveness with our craft to our communities and beyond.  Don’t stop growing in this.  Don’t stop learning.  Don’t stop letting God stretch you in proclaiming the Gospel.  

Preach the Word.  Use words.  Use tweets.  Use pics. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Confessions of an insecure pastor: 4 reasons why I shouldn’t preach all the time.

My name is Dave. And I am an insecure pastor. 

It’s the truth about many people, let alone pastors.  Defined, insecurity is the lack of confidence in oneself.  Also, it’s the state of being open to danger.  Put that together in a pastor’s life, you’ve got someone who struggles with their own strengths and weaknesses and sees others as a threat.  I could be completely off my rocker, but I believe there is such a pandemic of unchecked insecurity ravaging the hearts and minds of our pastors.  

It’s more normal than you think.  It is way more prevalent than we pastors want to admit.

We cover it up with humor.  We over-compensate with harsh communication (words and tones).  We cling to irrelevant or unproductive habits, tactics, and programs.  Pick your crutch…we all have one.  

My admission has nothing to do with settling for the “hand that was dealt” to me.  It’s time to bring it out in the open.  Then enemy works in the shadows.  Jesus brings light into the darkness. If we’re gonna attack what grows in the darkness, it’s time to bring it into the light. 

One of the greatest areas of insecurity is in our preaching.  

I love it.  It’s candy to me.  This formerly quiet introverted kid LOVES to preach.  But for the betterment of the past 18 years of ministry, out of my insecurities, I struggled with letting go of the pulpit.  I’ll admit, I’ve gotten way better.  I love (as well as Kfirst) to hear our staff whether it’s preaching, small group, music, etc.  They are gifted with their voice and style of presentation.  But I look back at years of ministry to students and adults and, quite frankly, I feel I deprived them.  I gave them one voice.  Some will call it “being protective as a shepherd.” I understand that and I do protect who’s preaching in our church.  But let’s call it for what it is: 

Insecurity. 

Here’s 4 reasons why I shouldn’t preach all the time on Sundays…

1. My congregation needs outside voices besides mine.  My insecurities want people to be dependent upon my voice/style alone. Gird your loins for this, but you are not the only one with an ability to speak into the people you pastor. Take another breath and ready yourself again…Some people may be better equipped to speak into life-situations and/or subjects than their pastor.  I deal with depression and have no issue preaching about it. But having an outside voice deal with it like John Opalewski can, I feel, bring a freshness and strategic focus to a sensitive subject.  Use outside preachers.  Use staff.  Bring in missionaries and/or evangelists you network with. Disciple volunteers if you don’t have a staff.  But get out of the pulpit and let someone speak besides you. 

2. My pride needs to be in check. Preaching is what preachers do. But insecurity wants to convince me to make Sunday AMs all about me. I need to remind myself I’m not the “end-all” of preachers. “Recognition” and “desire” are two seductive temptresses.  They seduce us into wanting to build our own little Empire instead of the Kingdom. When you hear that people only want to hear you, there’s a side of you that craves to hear that.  What side of you wants that? The ego.  Your staff, elders, missionaries, etc stepping into the pulpit brings you the rushing reality that the “preaching sun” doesn’t rise and fall on you.  I love when I hear our members talk about how much they love to hear our staff. It’s not a shot against me.  It’s a plus for the Kingdom. 

3. I preach better if my “preaching voice” is rested.  Insecurity makes me want to overcompensate and preach beyond my physical, mental, and spiritual capability.  We could power through like they did in the “old days.”  They preached Sunday AM, PM, Wednesday, etc. But with the amount of burnout and abusive preaching I’ve seen, I believe if our preachers properly rested they would be refreshed and preach better.  My preaching voices has huge amounts of preparation in prayer, word, study, and coffee.  A rested preacher is a better preacher.  I’ll admit, I never leave “sermon-preparation” mode. I’m always on the clock as I view life as a constant narrative of what God is speaking to me (plus life hands you amazing sermon illustrations…but that’s for another blog).  Creating a system to collect my ideas and stories has helped. 

4. Brings a Kingdom strategy.  Insecurity says to bring speakers only at the times where the calendar brings lighter attendance and/or when I’m on vacation.  Similar to #1, strategically bringing in key preachers from inside your church or outside the congregation can help you build a sermon-strategy for your church.  Instead of taking your preaching calendar one Sunday at a time, this forces you to plan ahead.  That way, you can bring different emphasis throughout the year as well as prevent preaching burn-out.  Forward planning and prayer creates a healthy sermon climate for your congregation to grow as well as for you to plan and be a stronger preacher.. 

I don’t think I’m the only one to struggle with this, but it’s time to bring the struggle into the light.  Age of the isolated, insecure Diva Pastor has passed where the church is supposed to revolve around the Lead Pastor.  Insecurity wants the diva to cling to the spotlight for fear of losing something.  But we need to remember: The church doesn’t belong to me.  It’s His bride and not mine.  And if we let the church be about Jesus, He will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail. I’m not an owner of what belongs to another.  I am a steward of the Kingdom and everything I do must point towards Him. 

Love Jesus.  Love your spouse.  Love your kids.  Love your church. (in that order)

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

2 Minute Devo: “Supernatural Response” Acts 5:42-52

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September is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Restoring Joy”.  I want to invite you to join me as we. It’s as simple as viewing  the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Acts 5:42-52:

Acts 13:42-52

42 As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath.43 And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue inthe grace of God.

44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews[a] incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, anddrove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.