Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I’M SICK OF ALLITERATION

I’m talking about having all the points of a sermon outline start with the same letter. Something like this:

Building Churches
1. Beckon People to Come
A. Be nice to them
B. Balloons are pretty
2. Babies Should Be Taken Care Of
A. Boy, they can cry a lot
B. Bake cookies at 325 degrees
3. Before you start, pray (Guess I should have made that the first point)
A. Bereshith means in the beginning
B. Bow you head

Obviously, I’m being a little facetious. I have used alliteration many times.
But some messages that I hear have outlines that stretch to get the points alliterated. They seem to be trying to make their outlines into works of art. I hear words that I’ve never heard of before: semi-pelagianism and solafidianism (which is actually a good word).

Having a cute outline is not the main goal for our preaching. I would rather hear a sermon that actually said something. I would like to hear some Bible content. I would like to hear some practical application. I would like to hear a message that leads me to some action.
And yes, it’s alright to tell a story or two – if the story relates to the point. Jesus told stories. (But I don’t remember too many of His alliterated outlines)

With some people, preachers only have one chance a week to give a true Bible message that can impact their lives. And with some visitors, preachers only have one chance, period. This is too important an opportunity to waste with mumbled clich├ęs or outlines that seek to impress instead of teach.

I don’t really care whether your outline is alliterated, starts with each letter of the alphabet, or if you only have one point.
But say something!


The Bible is just as true and relevant in the 21st century as it was in the first century. People need to hear a message from the Bible that they can understand. In your town this Sunday, probably one of the most important things happening will be your preaching.
Please say something!

Try it. Break the addiction. Preach this Sunday without alliteration.

Friday, June 26, 2009

PREACHERS AND POLITICIANS

A couple of politicians have been in the news recently because their adulterous relationships have been exposed. One of these men is supposed to be a born again Christian and a member of a Pentecostal church. He was also very involved in Promise Keepers. The other is an Episcopal. As Governor of his state, he opposed faith-based license plates. He wrote,
“It is my personal view that the largest proclamation of one's faith ought to be in how one lives his life."
One lesson we learn from this is that when you do wrong, you will probably get caught. That shouldn’t be our main motivation to not sin, but fear of getting caught is part of what keeps me straight. That’s why most of us don’t drive 100 mph and run red lights. We don’t want a ticket. If you think you can cheat on your spouse and no one will find out, you are wrong.
Another lesson is that hypocrisy is hated. Both of these men lived lives that didn’t match up with their words. Of course, politicians are famous for making campaign promises that they don’t deliver. This brings me to the connection to preachers. Which is more important in leading churches and reaching people – trust or charisma?
Many politicians have a lot of charisma. They smile a lot, shake hands, kiss babies, and try to tell you what you want to hear. In our media age, charisma can go a long way in helping a person get elected.
For preachers, there is nothing wrong with smiling a lot, shaking hands, and kissing babies. There’s nothing wrong with personal charisma. What will really help us, though, to be attractive to people is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, and peace. I like people who show that they care for me. I like to be around people who show a true joy in living. I feel better being with people who exhibit peace even in tough situations. This is also true for patience and humility and gentleness. One of the best things you can do for your marriage is to walk in the Spirit each day. One of the best things you can do as a Christian to reach others is to walk in the Spirit each day.
But if we are talking about personal charisma and charm, than trust is much more important in reaching others and being a leader. You don’t have to have a life of the party personality to build a church. People are watching us. They want to follow someone they can trust. Some preachers are like politicians in that they are making promises that they don’t fulfill. After a while, people learn that the pastor doesn’t really mean what he says. Congregations get whiplash from all the new programs that some pastors keep promoting. And they certainly expect us to live what we preach.
I’m all for new ideas. I like to hear how other people are doing what I want to do. We may find a new method that really helps.But its much more important that we are Sprit-filled people of integrity

Thursday, June 25, 2009

CHURCH PLANTING IS HARD


I work for the Free Will Baptist Home Missions Department. It’s a great job! I get to work with some of my favorite people – church planters. Before I came to Nashville to work here, I was a church planter in Delaware. It was one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences of our lives. My wife, Sandy, and I have four children. Now that they are grown, Sandy is able to travel with me to visit church planters. Both of us have a heart for new churches and church planters and their families. In this blog, I just want to share about good books that I’ve read, ideas that I’ve heard about, and thoughts that I have about church planting and other facets of reaching people for Christ in North America.


It’s hard to start a new church.

* You have to find somewhere to meet for church services.
* You don’t have much money.
* Nobody knows anything about you.
* Since people attract people, it’s harder for you to draw a crowd because you don’t have any people yet.
* Somebody is always asking you what you believe – “So what’s the difference between Free Will Baptists and other Baptists?”
* You have to come up with all the organizational structure.
* A lot of people will come for awhile and then leave because they don’t like something about your preaching or the church doctrine or way you worship. Or they want more programs for their children.
* You attract a lot of people who are very needy or who have a lot of problems. You know that you want to help everyone, but they drain you of all your energy and don’t really give you any help.

And there are a lot of obstacles that apply to any church in America:
* People are busy.
* Americans are comparison shoppers.
* There are many false beliefs. Many people resent anyone who takes a stand on truth.
* People are suspicious about religious leaders.
* Our country has a culture of entertainment and pleasure.
* People have preconceived ideas about Christians and Baptists.



But you know what else church planting is – it’s fun!

* I was so excited at our first service (held in a living room with 35 people present) that I felt like my feet weren’t even touching the ground.
* Do you want real fellowship with other Christians? Work together on the new church building. At the end of the day you are tired, but it’s a good tired.
* You look forward to Sunday morning like you never have before.
* It is so good to have a crowd at your fellowship dinner that you don’t mind eating last and you’re not that upset that you have to eat dark meat chicken.
* Some people are saved. Their whole future is changed. That is the fun I’m talking about!

So if hard work and rejection will stop you, don’t try to start a new church. It isn’t for everyone.
But I’m sure glad I got to get in on it.