Learn by preaching small passages or massive passages… but not medium

A common trap for young preachers is the medium length passage… its like 15-30 verses.

See, you can get your head around it. You can spend 10hrs preparing it and exegeting it and know what it says. But you’ll want to preach all of it. You’ll drag your listeners through all the ins and outs of the passage, and you won’t be able to hold them.

See, if you tried to preach 100 verses, no-one would expect you to touch on all of them… not even you! You’d be okay with letting some ideas through to the keeper. And if you preach 5-10 verses, you’d have the time to unpack everything properly, while still being able to apply it and think about your audience and presentation.

So, until you’ve learned to be okay with skipping bits, avoid the middle-sized passages.

This is all part of why we give our MTS Apprentices middle-sized passages! ;)

Being out-the-front puts on 10% more “boring”

They say the TV camera puts on 10pounds… As thin as you might look in person, it never gets fully captured on TV.
Being out-the-front at church does something similar… But not to your weight (no one would care anyway… Right!?). Rather, being out-the-front makes you slightly more uninteresting, slightly more boring, slightly more one-dimensional.
Partly it’s just the room and the dynamics of trying to hold the attention of 100 people. They all have their own little voice going on inside their head, their own little mind buzzing on their own things. It’s not a face-to-face conversation, and it’s socially acceptable to pay less attention.
The good thing is, unlike TV, being out-the-front can work fine as long as you invest 10% more energy into speaking than you would face-to-face. It needs to be slightly louder, slightly more vibrant, slightly more exciting… Not to be more vibrant or exciting, just to be normal.

If listing while preaching, it’s best to tally palm out

It’s a very minor thing, but please don’t give your congregation the rude finger when preaching.
It’s a common accident when you have three short points to make… On your first point you make a fist and point your index finger to the sky. Then you go to make your second point… You bring down the index finger and raise the middle. Oops.
So, some tips;
Keep your palm facing way from you (palm out).
Don’t bring down your fingers, just add the next one so you’re holding two fingers (tally method).
Use the double hand option, where you hold your fingers (one, both or all three) with your other hand.
Avoid using your hands to count at all.

My response to “Why shouldn’t women preach to men?”

(This would be one of the way’s I’d respond to someone who wanted to accept the bible’s teaching on male and female roles in ministry, but struggled to understand why God put them there.)

If a gunman ran into your church meeting and started spraying the crowd with bullets, in that split second, how would you hope to see the Christians react?

I’d expect to see adults of all ages jumping in front of kids to protect them. And I’d expect to see men jumping in front of their wives and other women to protect them. I’d also expect to see guys rush the gunman to subdue him. They’re both things you’d hope to see guys do, aren’t they?

Now, imagine that same scenario, but instead you see men ducking behind their wives. You see men using their wives as human shields. You see single men jumping behind young women and children for safety… what would you think of those men? Not much eh?

There’s something that tells us that the second scenario is not ok. Guys are meant to protect girls, take the bullet for them, die for them. That’s actually what Jesus does for his wife; the church. Jesus steps into the firing line and takes the punishment to save his loved one. That’s his job, that’s his purpose in coming to earth… to be responsible for his wife. To do what Adam didn’t do; because remember Adam was “with” Eve while she was being tempted, but his great crime was that he “listened to his wife” rather than stepping between Satan and his wife and dealing with the lies and bearing the brunt of the temptation. Adam’s crime was shirking the responsibility he was appointed to.

It all comes back to God and who God holds responsible. Women teaching men is not an issue of skill or talent or cultural perspectives. It’s an issue about who God wills to be held responsible for what. You see God do this in Ezekiel 3:17ff

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman over the house of Israel. When you hear a word from My mouth, give them a warning from Me. If I say to the wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ but you do not warn him—you don’t speak out to warn him about his wicked way in order to save his life—that wicked person will die for his iniquity. Yet I will hold you responsible for his blood. But if you warn a wicked person and he does not turn from his wickedness or his wicked way, he will die for his iniquity, but you will have saved your life.”

God chooses who he will hold responsible, and he appoints them to have certain authority to match that. Again, Jesus is a great example. Jesus is responsible to reconcile “all things” to God because he has supremacy over “all things” (Col 1:15ff).

Along with this we are reminded that “not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment” (Jam 3:1). Teaching God’s word is a very very dangerous profession. Teachers will be judged more harshly. Every word spoken will not only affect us, but how others will stand before the throne of God (1Cor 3).

Teaching other people is like going to war on their behalf. It’s putting your hand up and saying, “I will dare… I will take the risk of telling you what God says. I will bear the potential danger of teaching God’s word to you. I will take the bullet.”

So, men, would you dare hide behind a woman if a gunman burst in? No? Then why would you let a woman be held accountable to God for what other men are taught?!? Yes, God will hold women accountable for what they teach children and other women (Titus 2:4). But God does not want to hold women accountable for what they teach men!

You see, the whole idea of “Women not teaching men” is not an attempt to restrict women or keep them in their place… rather its an attempt to protect women from a judgement that God does not want to hold against them. It’s a command filled with mercy and love and protective intent.

The day will come when Jesus returns and all the bible teachers are judged, and men and women will look and say, “Oh my… I now understand why God didn’t want women to teach men… God was looking out for them… God didn’t want to subject them to this level of judgement.” Remember what God said to Ezekiel… the wicked person will die for his iniquity. Yet I will hold you responsible for his blood.

A better way to ask, “What did you think of the sermon?”

It’s really not a great question, is it? It’s intention is wonderful… but it’s execution is poor. How about…
“Hey, that talk we just heard, help me think through it for a second… I think he was saying…”
“I reckon I need to think a bit more about some of that talk, do you feel like that too?”
“Don’t take this the wrong way. But I couldn’t help wondering if you found some of that talk a bit challenging… Was it?”
Other ideas?

Why the passive voice should be avoided in preaching #ironic

It just takes so much extra effort for your hearers. You’re placing the bulk load of information dissemination onto their shoulders, when – if your content is already full – you want to make it as easy as possible to hear and understand.
It’s not that you should never use the passive voice, just rarely. Why would you want people to waste their brain’s limited attention to untangle your sentences?!? Work harder at your script. Say it simpler so they can give their attention to the implications and meaning of what you’re saying.
So… I’m not saying the passive voice should be avoided. I’m saying you should avoid the passive voice, for the sake of your hearers.

What did Paul share when he shared his life?

In 1Thessalonians, Paul says “We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.”

A common reaction to this is to almost imagine that Paul had two lives… his gospel preaching life, and his normal person life. The implication being that pastors and ministers today should not just peach the gospel to the flock God has given to their care, but they should share their hobbies, their song lists, their holidays.

But, think back to 1Thessalonians… Paul had been with them about 3 weeks (Acts 17:1-9) before being chased out of the city after a new convert (Jason) got persecuted. What did he share with them? His love of soccer? His favourite movies? No. He shared the gospel with them, and he shared the effects of preaching the gospel with them. He recruited them to his passion… gospel preaching.

We see this when you put verse 8 and 9 together… Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well; Surely you remember our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

I fear a future where pastors are mainly on about life-sharing and less on about gospel-passion-sharing. Because for Paul, they were one in the same thing.