Nine Marks of a Good Sermon

Dwight A. Moody, President, Academy of Preachers Christian people deserve to hear good sermons when we go to worship (or when we download something from the internet). We don’t need great sermons, except once in a long while. We hear too many poor or mediocre sermons and this discourages many people. The church of Jesus…

To Thine Own Self Be True: Preaching with Authenticity

T Stewart preaching

One of Shakespeare’s most famous quotes comes from the character Polonius in Hamlet.  He says “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” While I have never been a huge fan of this tragedy, I can say that these words constantly ring in my head every time I stand to preach the gospel of Christ.

More than 1300

Jenny-Marble-ThumbnailThere are fifty-two, sometimes fifty-three Sundays in a given calendar year. When I multiply the twenty-five years I have been alive by the approximately fifty-two sermons I listen to yearly, and adding any other conferences, camp meetings, sermons I view online, the result is more than 1300.

Since the age of ten I have collected sermon notes of every sermon I have listened to partially because I am a nerd and I know it helps me retain the material, but more importantly I knew from a young age that I would be preaching some day and I wanted to remember how others preached. Sure, I have hundreds and hundreds of church bulletins and programs with notes I could reference to recall my memory, but when I think about it, I can only remember three or four sermons.

It is not that I can recall the sermons in their entirety; I remember how they were presented, and how they impacted the preacher.

Aristotle, Beanie Babies, and Millennials

I have never been accused of being a faddish or trendy person. When I was in elementary school, my entire family made the mistake of jumping on the Beanie Baby bandwagon (I was convinced we’d be worth millions!). My bedroom shelves were crammed full of the things, and we ate about a billion McDonald’s kids meals to get the special promotion Teenie Beanie Babies (smaller=cuter, right?). Suffice it to say that I’ve learned about every lesson there is to learn about fads from my experiences with those little ear-tagged critters.

There is a connection, I think, between my family’s experiences with the marketing geniuses over at Ty, Inc. and the desire many preachers feel to “reach a new generation.” The connection is that both events are fads. In the 90s, Beanie Babies were all the rage. They flooded the market and spawned a host of imitations, but they ultimately left collectors with basements full of mostly worthless stuffed animals (the “super rare” Princess Diana tribute bear can now be had on eBay for a mere $30.00). In the same way, faddish preaching that only desires to “reach a new generation” is ultimately going to leave preachers with far too many social media accounts and a shelf full of dated books on “reaching generation [letter of your choice].”…

Inspiring Young Preachers will change the future

Tyler BestIt is hard to believe that just over a week has passed since the inaugural Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church (INUMC) Festival of Young Preachers.  The lingering impact causes me to reflect on the experience and imagine the possibilities for the future. 

Hearing eighteen young preachers, ages 14 – 26, from all over Indiana passionately preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ leads to long term inspiration.  You will have the opportunity to view these young preachers in action on YouTube in the next few days.  More than ever, this Festival has given me new hope in two very key areas.

A Church for Generation Y & Z

LT Crudup25 year old Xavier sits at his job all day, bored. He watches his dreams go by in a job that does not fulfill his longing for something with meaning. Sure he makes a decent amount of money, lives in a well-to-do neighborhood, and drives a nice car, but Xavier is empty. One day Xavier decides to leave, to follow his dreams, to take a pay cut.  He doesn’t know where he is going or how he is going to make money but he does know that he is now on the right track……

Getting Rid of the Fitting Rooms

IMG_7871David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. I cant go in these, he protested to Saul. Im not used to them. So David took them off again.

(1st Samuel 17:39, NLT)

A few months ago as I rode the MARTA to the National Festival of Young Preachers a friend and I talked about the changing demographics of the church. She shared how her pastors back home, once a month, hold church services Sunday evenings in a coffee shop where they feed a younger, “unchurched” crowd hungry to learn more about Jesus. A year earlier, I heard stories about churches who similarly took their ministry outside of Sunday worship and the four walls of the church. One in Philadelphia, PA set up shop outside of a popular nightclub and served hungry club patrons with free pizza printing bible verses and service times on their napkins. Another ministry in Atlanta, GA decided that “conventional” worship services were not enough anymore. They forwent normal worship and used Sundays as prayer time and agenda setting for a week full of localized service, community organizing and neighborhood restoration.

As I sat on the smooth, sight-filled ride to the heart of Atlanta getting ready to preach a sermon I asked myself, “What will preaching look, feel, sound and taste like for this new generation?” How does one preach in a coffee shop? How does one proclaim the gospel on a pizza truck to club goers at three a.m.? As we preach in our churches, how do we reach and hold in balance congregations filled with those who grew up in Sunday school their entire lives and crave something new, with those who do not know the story of Easter? How do we preach to a new generation?…

Mission Impossible-Preaching to Diversity

Trayce-Stewart-150x150Several times throughout the book of Revelation, we encounter the phrase “whoever has ears, let them hear what the spirit is saying to the churches”. Since accepting a full time ministry position with a four year old congregation I have found myself saying the same thing and wondering how to authentically preach a gospel that transcends time to a multi-generational church with varying degrees of understanding theological principles. …

Gather At The River

(One of the four eulogies delivered at the funeral service for George Thomas Moody, this one by Dwight A. Moody) We began this service of worship with the invitation to “gather at the river.” That hymn is inspired by the very last chapter of the Bible. From the throne of God comes the river of…