Start ‘er Up!

This blog has been sitting idle for over a year. Writing a post feels like trying to start a car that hasn’t been driven for a while. I’m going to crank it and see if it still runs.

I have not been idle in brain or life. In my first year of teaching (2016-17) at Faith Baptist Bible College, I was in survival mode as I developed class content, learned how to function in the academic milieu, and met students and colleagues. On summer break, in addition to completing two major home projects, I preached almost weekly in our church before we called a new pastor and preached two weeks at family camps in Iowa and Nebraska. In between these responsibilities, I also started a major undertaking which I’m hoping to bring to completion soon. It involved a lot of writing, and that’s all I’ll say for now :). Teaching went much more smoothly from my perspective first semester of the 2017-18 school year. I love what I do – preparing men for pastoral ministry.

Looking ahead, I am very excited for opportunities to encourage pastors. These include a workshop at Faith’s Refresh Conference in Februarytwo workshops for the pastors’ track at the MAACS Educators Conference also in February; the Timothy Retreat at Iowa Regular Baptist Camp for young men considering ministry; speaking at the Iowa Association of Regular Baptist Churches Annual Conference in March; and speaking at a pastors’ conference in June. What a privilege it is to connect with the men in these settings.

My mission in this stage of life is to equip men for ministry, encourage pastors, and strengthen churches. God continues to give opportunities to do these things, and I am grateful.

Hey, it runs! I might take it for a spin.

Elements of Effective Sermon Delivery

Yes, it’s been forever since I’ve posted. Moving and school have kept me occupied. I desire to pick it up again, with some new features. Soon.

I developed this quick guide to elements of effective sermon delivery for my Homiletics class at Faith Baptist Bible College. In first semester Homiletics we’re focusing on what to preach – learning to develop an expository sermon from a passage of Scripture. Second semester we’ll focus on how to preach – effectively communicating the sermon. But the guys will be preaching the sermons they’ve been working on this semester, and I wanted to give them a quick, helpful guide to some of the practical aspects of effective sermon delivery. I thought some of  you might benefit from it as well. Here you go. (I don’t usually try to alliterate, it just sort of happened.)

Your Heart

  • Prayerful – Invest time in prayer throughout the preparation process and before the preaching event.
  • Personal – Develop genuine concern, love, and compassion for the people you are speaking to.
  • Passionate – Believe what you are preaching and feel a compelling burden to communicate it.

Your Head

  • Finished – Prepare thoroughly and completely so that you know what the text means and what you will say about it.
  • Familiar – Go over your message repeatedly so that you can communicate freely.
  • Fresh – Review your message close to the time you will preach. Avoid distractions as much as possible without being uncaring or rude to people.

Your Mouth

  • Awake – Do mouth calisthenics to warm up your vocalization muscles.
  • Articulate – Pronounce your words clearly and correctly. Don’t mumble. Read your Scripture text clearly, reverently, and expressively.

Your Face

  • Eye contact – Look everyone you can in the eye at least once.
  • Expressive – Smile. Don’t look mad. Show compassion.
  • Enjoy – You’re preaching the Word of God. What a privilege and joy! Show it.

Your Voice

  • Clear – Lift your voice and enunciate your words. Hydrate before preaching, and while preaching if necessary. Use a small cough drop if needed.
  • Confident – Declare your message without mumbling or stumbling around. Avoid “uh.” Just wait until the thought comes. Speak as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11).
  • Controlled – Purposefully vary your pitch, projection/punch, pace, and pause for emphasis and interest.

Your Hands

  • At ease – Keep them in a natural position.
  • Accentuate – Reinforce what you are saying with appropriate gestures.

Your Body

  • Starting point – The centered pulpit is the most powerful position on the platform. It should be your base of operation. Start from it and, if you move away, return to it.
  • Stability – Maintain a poised yet energetic stance. Avoid nervous or distracting movement.
  • Steps – Move in ways that emphasize the message, keep people’s attention, and connect with the audience.

Your Audience

  • Focus – Concentrate on connecting with them, not on yourself or your notes.
  • Not Fans – Do not seek their approval or affirmation. Speak to please God, not man.
  • Friends – Help them along the journey that you and they are on.

What a Discouraged Pastor Should Do (Part 4)

Here’s a final look at some of Paul’s exhortations to Timothy when he faced discouragement. You can read Parts 1, 2, and 3 if you haven’t already. These are all taken from 2 Timothy.

  1. Continue in what you have learned. (3:10-17)

The basics don’t change just because ministry is hard. Keep going back to the Word for your own personal encouragement. It is able to give you assurance and equip you to do the work of ministry.

  1. Preach the Word. (4:1-4)

This is a succinct repeat of numbers 3, 8, and 10. The emphasis Paul places on it indicates how important it is. Keep preaching the Word. Do it when you feel like it and when you don’t (v. 2b). Preach in a way that challenges people where they live (v. 2c). Keep it up.

  1. Spend time encouraging someone else who is hurting. (4:9-22)

Paul himself was going through a time of extreme hardship. He asked Timothy to “come to me quickly” (v. 9) because others had abandoned him. As Paul speaks of being left to face the Roman trial by himself (v. 16), his personal hurt is evident. “All forsook me.” He hopes Timothy will pay him a visit.

When we’re discouraged, it can help us to spend time with hurting people in order to lift their spirits. It gets our focus off ourselves. It can break the downward spiral of self-pity and despondency. I don’t know if this was part of Paul’s reason for asking Timothy to come. He may have just wanted Timothy’s company. But Paul evidently did not think that Timothy’s discouraged state of mind would keep him from being an encouragement to Paul. And maybe he thought the trip and the time with Paul would be good for Timothy. Maybe a visit to another discouraged Christian or hurting pastor will be just what you need!

  1. Know that God will never desert you. He stands with you and strengthens you so the message will go out and the people who need it will hear. (4:17)

This is Paul’s ultimate confidence for himself. He felt deserted and hurt (verses 10, 14, 16). But He knew that the Lord had not abandoned him. These are beautiful words!

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me . . .  (v. 17)

Paul took heart in the truth that His Savior was with Him when everyone else left him. I think he wanted his young friend Timothy to know that the Lord was with him during his painful season of ministry as well. These are good words for any hurting or discouraged pastor to read, cling to, and take heart.

Paul, Timothy, and any discouraged minister of God can say, The Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen! (v. 18)