Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The danger of a new building

I’ve been at a number of churches who have wanted to, been in the middle of and have completed a building project.

Honestly, these times can be really challenging.

While the construction is happening you can feel like you’re church is in a now-but-not-yet stage of life.

But this inaction during the building process is just one hurdle a church or ministry must beware of.

One danger emerges once the project is finally complete.

Usually, after what has felt like a drawn-out process, the shiny new building can lead a church in two directions...

The negative one is a place of completion. The building becomes an end-point. The building is seen as an accomplishment. 

In short, everything slows down.

Alternatively, the building can project a church in a positive direction. The building can be a launching pad. The building is the start of new things. 

In short, everything is energised.

Ideally, every church uses their new building as a positive stepping stone to greater Kingdom Impact.

But, all too many churches treat their new building like the Old Testament Temple. 

A church can see that they have constructed a monument that people now need to visit in order to meet with God. They can see their new building as an expense that needs to be justified, usually a defensive mindset, which minimises further risk.

One aspect, which steers the direction of church, is now the leadership responds to their new building. Hopefully, the building process hasn’t drawn those in charge towards a negative mindset, with the building seen as a sunset instead of the dawn of something new.

Monday, May 27, 2019

The reason you must record your first sermon

Somewhere, I’ve got a video of one of my first sermons. While it was only recorded for a preaching assignment, the practice of documenting one of your initial sermons is invaluable.

Last Sunday my church had a preacher, who from outward appearances, was inexperienced. What he said was pretty good, but he also made a few rookie missteps.

He should have videoed that sermon.
If he did he would have learnt a lot.

As painful as it can be to view yourself on camera, recording yourself has two powerful positives.

First, if nothing else, the video can be a keepsake of your first time in the pulpit. It can be something you look back on and, potentially, groan over.

Second, you’ll be able to identify and begin to address significant issues you may have as an inexperienced speaker. You’ll quickly notice verbal and physical ticks which, if you didn’t get an outside perspective, you may have remained oblivious to. Once identified, you can begin to address these issues, like repeating filler words, not remaining grounded, pacing, transitions between points, interaction between yourself with your slides/props (like reading off the screen) and appropriate eye contact.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Is the church a singer production line?

Seemingly, every mainstream singing competition is full of those who sing in their church. I don’t think this is a coincidence.


Because the shower is the main place where people sing. Or a performance of the national anthem.

Really... That’s it. 

It’s true for theists, atheists, seekers and searchers.

But christians get another avenue to regularly sing - church.

And I wonder if this results in the church producing a larger percentage of singers.

Frankly, I’m not sure.

At any church, realistically, there are a few of excellent singers (1 percent) and a bunch of good singers (5 percent).

So, at a mid-sized church of 200, they will have, say, 2 great vocalists and a dozen good singers.  

At church they will get a regular, if not weekly, avenue to sing.

And herein, I believe lies the secret of the churches, seemingly, abundance of singers.


Really, unless you’re in a choir, the ordinary person will not get a chance to regularly sing.

I think this sends a powerful message to the church.

Give people an opportunity.
Provide chances for people to explore and exercise their talents, skills and gifts.

Firstly, this will provide them with an avenue to use the talents God has given them.

Second, with healthy boundaries, this will dramatically increase buy in for the person.

And third, the church may be one of the few ways the person will be able to use their talents.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The questions behind every good sermon

Last week, as part of a bible study I was leading, I took a group of young adults through some of the process I went through when writing a sermon. 

It was really enjoyable. In a way, it showed how a sermon is shaped and, I hope, will allow them to appreciate (both preparation and content) a sermon slightly better.

Through the process, we asked five basic questions...

Where does the book fit in the bible?
Where does the passage fit within the book?
What is important or noteworthy from the passage?
What questions emerge from the passage?
Where is the gospel in the passage - how does it point to Jesus?

The only question we didn’t address, due to time restraints, was the final one...

How does this passage apply to Christian living today?

In my opinion, any sermon which addresses these six questions effectively has the structure of a quality sermon.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Repeating your open air script?

Last week I saw an open air preacher. For me, even being at university, this is unusual.

It was at the entrance of a large event in Sydney and, from all appearances, the guy wasn’t being listened to by anyone especially.

I didn’t stop to listen.

But I did wonder about open air preaching...

If that guy was at the entrance of the event for a few hours, does he keep delivering fresh material, or does he just keep repeating the same sermon?

With a transient crowd, having fresh sermons seems redundant due to the constant refreshment of the audience.

But, with an crowd with only a few moments to listen, would you be prepared to say the same sermon - say going ten minutes - 30 times in a row? 
How do you decide which sermon is the one worthy of the airtime? 
Also, what would happen if someone does stick around for a sizeable chunk of time or was stuck within earshot?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Link as closely as possible when preaching

This past week I was listening to a sermon in which the preacher made a small, albeit significant, misstep.

During the message he connected a principal from the parable he was preaching from to some words Jesus spoke upon the cross. It was a pretty good point.

But, in connecting the two passages he used two different gospels.

The trouble was that he didn’t need to since the same words were recorded at the end of the gospel he was preaching from.

In reality, it’s not a big deal. No one would have noticed.

But I do believe that an important teaching principal was missed.

Those within the congregation should be encouraged, when interpreting the bible, to, where possible, allow the bible to explain itself - especially within the same book.

In jumping from one gospel to another the preacher missed the chance to make this point and I think the phrase “as recorded elsewhere in the same gospel” makes a stronger point than just linking the point to another section of scripture.