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As an introduction to our ministry at SermonSubscription.com we’d like to offer you the first week of material for our February Sermon Series, “Take Off Your Mask!” for free. Simply click on the links below to access your free materials.

CLICK HERE FOR SERMON

CLICK HERE FOR SERMON OUTLINE

CLICK HERE FOR HANDOUT

CLICK HERE FOR POWERPOINT

If you would like to receive materials like this for every week of the year, please subscribe at: http://sermonsubscription.com/subscribe-here/

You are free to cancel at anytime, but the truth is, very few people ever cancel due to the high quality of our materials.

In Christ,

Barry

Prepare Better Sermons in Less Time

desk[Make sure and scroll to the bottom to get a 15% discount on Logos 6!]

By Ryan Nelson

Writing quality sermons takes time and energy pastors don’t always have. Discovering new insights can take hours of research, and assembling those insights can take hours. Logos Bible Software was built with pastors in mind—the more you use it, the more time it saves you.

Here are four ways Logos saves pastors sermon-prep time:

1. Turn personal study into powerful quotes
visualcopyVisual Copy is a powerful new tool available in Logos 6, and pastors can’t stop talking about it. With a click, Visual Copy turns any quote you highlight into a compelling quote slide, so you can build your sermon while you study. These slides also work great for social-media or blog posts (I used Visual Copy to create a post with Charles Spurgeon quotes). You can send slides straight to PowerPoint, Proclaim, or your social networks.

Logos 6 also comes loaded with hundreds of slides that cover every book in the Bible and visually compelling art for the most popular preaching topics. When you pick a passage you want to use or a theme to preach on, the images you need are right there in the same place you study.

Logos helps you make a smooth transition from study to sermon. Start your presentation with Visual Copy without interrupting your research.

2. Find everything there is to know about . . . anything
everythingsearchWhen you need more information on a verse, topic, person, place, or anything else you encounter in your studies, look it up with the Everything Search. This tool hunts through your entire library to find everything you could possibly need to start your sermon: media, Atlas maps, dictionary links, Bible references, commentaries, and more. Everything Search assembles all your advanced search tools, so you can see all the information your library has to offer about your search.

Everything Search is like your personal research assistant; Logos’ Factbook is your microscope. When you need focused results, Factbook takes all that information and arranges it like an encyclopedia. If you search for a person like Charles Spurgeon, Factbook gives you a short biography, famous quotes, links to key words, and relevant events in the Timeline tool. The same search on any book on the Bible pulls up Bible-verse art, overviews, key events, outlines, authorship, historical data, themes, and more. Factbook helps you spend more time preparing your message and less time wondering where to begin.

Logos 6 makes serious study simple. Get in and learn what you need, so you can get out and share it.

3. Bring ancient context to the modern church
culturalconceptsOne of the hardest parts of bringing the Bible to the context of our congregation is understanding the context in which it was written. Without understanding ancient culture, we might apply or interpret Scripture incorrectly—and worse, share our misconceptions with our church. Word choice, imagery, and concepts can all have completely different meanings in the context of ancient Judaism and early Christianity. What may seem insignificant to the modern reader could have meant the world to an ancient writer, and vice versa.

Logos 6′s new Cultural Concepts tool sheds light on over 1,000 concepts like music, food, burial practices, traditions, and titles you find throughout the Bible. You can see what they refer to in the Bible, other verses where they appear, and how they were used in other ancient literature.

Logos lets you explore cultural concepts and ancient literature, so you can bring fresh insights to your modern church.

4. Fight writer’s block with tools that spark sermon ideas
Logos has a custom search tool designed with pastors in mind. Search over 200 of the most popular sermon topics, and the Sermon Starter Guide retrieves key passages, excerpts, thematic outlines, illustrations, quotes, sermons, journals, and more. Say you have a big sermon coming up on the Resurrection. The Sermon Starter Guide lets you indicate exactly what you mean by “resurrection”—Jesus, his resurrection, and ascension. From there, you can see how Timothy Keller and others have preached on the resurrection of Christ, browse illustrations, quotes, prayers, and passages, and get started with an outline. With Logos 6, your library is packed with more sermons and tools for pastors, so the Sermon Starter Guide is more valuable than ever.

Watch this video to learn more:

Start writing better sermons, faster
As one of our readers, right now you can get a special 15% discount on Logos 6. Use coupon code PASTORSHELPER6 at checkout. Go to: www.logos.com

Save hours on sermon prep, so you can pour that time back into your family, your ministry, and your life. Do yourself a favor and get Logos 6.

Joe’s 10 Iron-clad Rules for Success in Ministry

number-tenBy Joe McKeever

So, you’re new in the ministry?  And you want to get this right, of course. You have definitely come to the right place, friend.  Pull up a chair and get ready to take notes.

Some alternative titles for these ten little gold nuggets (aka, iron pyrite) might be “How not to rock the boat.” “How to last 50 years in the ministry without creating a ripple.”  “How to please everyone and secure a good retirement.”

Tongue firmly planted in cheek, seat-belt fastened, sense of whimsy intact…..

1) You’re going to need sincerity to make it in the ministry. If you can fake that, anything is possible.

2) The crowd will be bigger if you don’t count them.  We learned this truth from fishing. Any fisherman knows, The fish not weighed is heavier than the ones that are.

3) To feel better about your sermon, do not ask your wife on the way home, “Well, what did you think?”  She will tell you, and then where will you be?

4) The typical congregation will love you more if you preach generalities about sin, lower the boom on atheists and cultists, and speak favorably about the local high school football team.

5) Make changes and the whiners will leave your church.  Make no changes and the winners will leave. So, decide who you want to keep.

6) Expecting the congregation to remember your anniversary and to give Christmas bonuses is the surest path to disappointment.

7) The person hanging around your office wanting to be your best friend is your worst enemy.  Watch him/her like a hawk.

8) Using certain phrases will impress upon the audience that they are being treated to inside information.  “Now, most people do not know this, but….”  “The denomination does not want you to know this, but….”  “We Greek scholars know this word actually means….”  “I have this on good authority….”  “A friend who has been to Israel informs me….”  Try to do this with a straight face.

9) Telling a critic “It’s my way or the highway” is not good. It smacks of tyranny and makes you appear a bully.  So, figure out a nice way to inform them if they continue to oppose you, they are in danger of hell fire.

10) Speak well of your predecessor. And, as you have the opportunity, visit him in the state penitentiary occasionally. Report back to the congregation how well he is doing and that he sends his love.

There!  Do these things and it will all work out. Probably.

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Used with permission by Joe McKeever. Joe is a Pastor, Preacher, Author, Professor, Cartoonist, Jesus Lover, Friend.

Nine Observations about Announcements in Worship Services

origin_4274024184By Thom Rainer

To have or not to have announcements in the worship services? That is the question many church leaders ask today. And indeed there are several tendencies or trends related to announcements, and they are often related to the size of the church.

I asked a number of church leaders of congregations of varying sizes about their practices in this area. They pretty much confirmed what I am seeing as well. Here are my nine observations:

  1. More church leaders do not think announcements should be a part of the worship services. Their churches are more likely to have announcements projected on a screen prior to the worship service, or not to have them at all in the worship center.
  2. Large churches (700 and up in average worship attendance) are highly unlikely to have announcements as a part of the worship service. As noted above, they may have the announcements projected on a screen prior to the worship service.
  3. Smaller churches (under 200 in average worship attendance) are very likely to include announcements as a traditional part of the worship service. Excluding them would likely cause some level of conflict in the church.
  4. Video or projected announcements have grown commensurate with the growth of projected lyrics during the worship music. Because the technology and equipment is available for the music, more churches also use it for announcements.
  5. With greater frequency, pastors limit making announcements unless they are a major or visional issue. This trend is growing in all churches except smaller congregations.
  6. More congregations limit announcements before or during the worship services to those issues that affect most or all of the congregants. For example, it is becoming less likely for announcements to be made about a committee meeting that involves only six people.
  7. Many pastors are still asked to make announcements right before worship services begin. Often they are handed a slip of paper or told adamantly that something must be announced. I will address this issue in a later blog post.
  8. Pastors also receive pressure from different groups and individuals to make certain their announcements are made. Most every church member has his or her own idea about priorities in the church. One pastor recently told me that a church member got mad at him because he did not announce that the member’s daughter was named salutatorian of her senior high school class.
  9. Most church leaders believe that the retention rate of announcements by members is low. If retention is indeed low, it would indicate that most times of announcements are done due to pressure or tradition or both.

What is your church’s approach to announcements in the worship services? How effective do you think they are? What is your reaction to these nine observations?

ThomRainer

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on January 7, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

How To Write Four Sermons at a Time

foursermonsBy Barry L. Davis

Before I was called into ministry I was a cabinet-maker. Most of the cabinets we made were store fixtures for places like The Limited and Victoria’s Secret, as well as furniture, conference tables, and other high end pieces for law libraries. Even though It was custom work built on a bench and not an assembly line, oftentimes there were multiple units needed of the same item. For instance, if it were a law library we would build multiple shelving units and multiple desks. Rather than cut material for each individual item, we would figure out the pieces we needed, and then multiply that by the number of units we needed to build. When all the pieces were cut, we would then assemble them. This saved a lot of time and also assured that quality standards were the same for each unit.

Awhile back I decided to apply the same principle to my sermon writing. Since I usually preach in series, it made sense to put together the whole series at once, rather than working on each sermon by itself. As you’ll see, each individual message gets its own personal attention, but writing multiple sermons at once results in better preparation, better use of time and resources, and is much more efficient in every way. I would estimate that my preparation time has been cut in half.

I am going to give you the basic principles for how I prepare multiple messages at once, but I am not going to go into great detail on basic sermon preparation. In other words, I am assuming you have done the proper Bible study, prayer, commentary reading, and other background work. This is simply the practical nuts and bolts of building a sermon series.

1. Name your series and how many messages there will be (“four” in the title is just an example).

For our example we will stick with four. Get out four pieces of paper, or open four documents in your word processor. Write down the name of the series on each document, and then the individual sermon titles.

multiple sermons2. Pick out the main Scripture text(s) for each message.

Insert the text into your document under the title for each sermon.

3. Write your outline for each message.

Outline the first sermon, then the second sermon, and so on. When you do this and look at all four sermons side by side, you will quickly see areas where you have been repetitive, or where you have not covered the topic/text fully, or other areas that need improvement. Edit and fix whatever needs adjustment. You are now outlining with the impact of the entire series in mind, and not just an individual message. You will find this will drastically alter your perception in a very positive manner. A sermon series is in some ways like a book — while there is a theme to each individual message, it should fit under the broader heading of the theme of the series. This will allow for a much stronger impact on your audience.

4. Place all the Scripture text in the appropriate places.

Insert all Scripture text that you are going to use under the appropriate outline headings. Do this for all points on the first outline, then the second outline, etc…. If you are doing your sermon preparation correctly, you already chose these texts before (or during the process of) making your outline(s). Now put them down on paper.

5. Pick out and place all illustrative material.

This is where you will see HUGE time-savings using this method. You are now searching for illustrative material for the whole series at once, with all four sermons open before you. For instance, you might be looking through an illustration book, reading a magazine, or skimming through videos and find a story or clip that fits well with the series — now determine which sermon it will help to illustrate best. While searching you might find a good illustration for Sermon #3 first, or #1, it doesn’t make any difference. Insert all the illustrations into your outline(s) under the appropriate outline points. If you’re like me, you’ll start moving some illustrations from one sermon to another because you’ll find they are a better fit (this is one of the reasons I do mine on a word processor — it’s much easier to “cut and paste” then retype).

6. Write your Introduction for each message.

Now, with the whole series in mind, write your Introduction, one sermon at a time. Each Introduction should contain some information, even if only a sentence, that connects it to the series as a whole. If you do this right, and you say something like, “In this series we are learning about how to control anger…” you might hook someone who needs help in this area to come back for the whole series. The idea is to build interest in the topic and get them coming back for more.

7. Now, finish writing each individual message.

Go back to Sermon #1 and start writing. You already have a title, outline, Scripture text, illustrations, and Introduction. All of the main parts of the message is already put together. Now begin to fill in the information that will explain each point, tie each point in the outline to the next, and to the sermon, and to the series as a whole. You will be amazed how easy this part will be. I have found having all the hard part done first removes any writer’s block I experienced prior to using this method. Write Sermon #2 and following the same way.

8. Write your Conclusion.

You can either write your Conclusion as a part of writing the individual message (above), or save it until everything else is done and then write all your Conclusions at once. Whichever way works best for you is the way that you should do it. Like the Introduction, try to tie the message to the series as a whole in the Conclusion.

That’s it! While this process is probably somewhat foreign to most of you, it really isn’t all that different from normal sermon preparation. I guarantee you that once you get the hang of this you will not go back to the old way of doing things.

Think of these benefits:

1) Tremendous time saver (without sacrificing quality)

2) Advanced preparation (have your sermons done a month or more in advance)

3) Consistency (your congregation will receive a steady diet)

I’d like to encourage you to try this method and then get back to me and let me know how it worked out for you. Of course, I’d love to hear your comments right now too. Just fill in “Comments” section below.

Barry L. Davis

 

 

 

 

Barry Davis is a minister, author, and owner of the Pastor’s Helper.

Seven Myths about a Pastor’s Workweek

clock-pastorsBy Thom Rainer

It is an old joke, one that is still told too often. You go up to your pastor and say, “I wish I had your job; you only have to work one hour each week.” It is likely your pastor will laugh or smile at your comment. In reality your pastor is likely hurt by your statement. Indeed the reality is that too many church members have made wrongful and hurtful comments about the pastor’s workweek.

Sadly, some church members really believe some of the myths about a pastor’s workweek. And some may point to a lazy pastor they knew. I will readily admit I’ve known some lazy pastors, but no more so than people in other vocations. The pastorate does lend itself to laziness. To the contrary, there are many more workaholic pastors than lazy pastors.

So what are some of the myths about a pastor’s workweek? Let’s look at seven of them.

Myth #1: The pastor has a short workweek. Nope. The challenge a pastor has is getting enough rest and family time. Sermon preparation, counseling, meetings, home visits, hospital visits, connecting with prospects, community activities, church social functions, and many more commitments don’t fit into a forty hour workweek.

Myth #2: Because of the flexible schedule, a pastor has a lot of uninterrupted family time. Most pastors rarely have uninterrupted family time. It is the nature of the calling. Emergencies don’t happen on a pre-planned schedule. The call for pastoral ministry comes at all times of the day and night.

Myth #3: The pastor is able to spend most of the week in sermon preparation. Frankly, most pastors need to spend more time in sermon preparation. But that time is “invisible” to church members. They don’t know that a pastor is truly working during those hours. Sadly, pastors often yield to the demand of interruptions and rarely have uninterrupted time to work on sermons.

Myth #4: Pastors are accountable to no one for their workweek. To the contrary, most pastors are accountable to most everyone in the church. And church members have a plethora and variety of expectations.

Myth #5: Pastors can take vacations at any time. Most people like to take some vacation days around Christmas. That is difficult for many pastors since there are so many church functions at Christmas. And almost every pastor has a story of ending a vacation abruptly to do a funeral of a church member.

Myth #6: The pastor’s workweek is predictable and routine. Absolutely not! I know of few jobs that have the unpredictability and surprises like that of a pastor. And few jobs have the wild swings in emotions as does the pastorate. The pastor may be joyfully sharing the gospel or performing a wedding on one day, only to officiate the funeral of a friend and hear from four complainers the next day.

Myth #7: The pastor’s workweek is low stress compared to others. I believe pastors have one of the most difficult and stressful jobs on earth. In fact, it is an impossible job outside of the power and call of Christ. It is little wonder that too many pastors deal with lots of stress and depression.

Pastors and church staff are my heroes. They often have a thankless job with long and stressful workweeks. I want to be their encourager and prayer intercessor. I want to express my love for them openly and enthusiastically.

I thank God for pastors.

ThomRainer

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on December 22, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

Ten Troubling Statements Church Leaders and Members Make

Arguing-WorkersBy Thom Rainer

If you want your church to move toward a slow yet certain death, make certain your church leadership and membership affirms most of these ten statements. They are troubling statements. Indeed they are proclamations that virtually assure your church’s decline and probable demise.

What is troubling is that these statements are not uncommon. They are articulated by both staff and lay leaders at times. See if you have ever heard any of these ten.

  1. We hire our pastors and staff to do that. “That” can be evangelism. Or discipleship. Or caring for others. Or visiting people in the hospital. Some lay leaders view pastors and staff as hired hands to do ministry they should be doing themselves.
  2. We have enough churches in our community. I rarely see a community that is really “overchurched.” The number of unchurched people in any one community is typically increasing, not decreasing. This comment usually comes from church leaders who view new churches as competition.
  3. We are a discipleship church. Or an evangelism church. Or a ministry church. Church leaders who say their churches are focused on only one area of ministry are offering excuses not to be obedient in other areas.
  4. We have never done it that way before. Yes, it’s cliché. But it’s still a very pervasive attitude among change-resistant people in the church.
  5. We don’t have the money to do that. More times than not, the church does indeed have the money to focus on necessary priorities. The problem is that some church leaders don’t have the courage to reallocate funds toward those priorities.
  6. We really don’t emphasize small groups. Churches that do not give a priority to small groups or Sunday school classes can count on a big exodus of people out the back door. Those in groups are five times more likely to stay involved in a church than those in worship services alone.
  7. We have enough people in our church. This is a tragic statement by leaders of inwardly focused churches. And it is an excuse not to do evangelism and ministry.
  8. We aren’t a church for those kinds of people. Though similar to number seven, this statement is an appalling declaration made by church members who really believe people of a certain race, ethnic group, income group, or other descriptor should be excluded from the congregation.
  9. We really shouldn’t expect much of our members. Low expectation churches are far too common. Too many church leaders communicate unwisely that it’s okay for members to do nothing, give nothing, and not be concerned about growing spiritually.
  10. We focus only on our members, not guests and others. Many church leaders make this statement either explicitly or implicitly. Sometimes the facilities, the worship services, and the small groups shout “Guests not welcome!” I released a resource today that addresses this critical issue of guest friendliness.

What do you think of these ten troubling statements? Are they accurate? Are they fair? What would you add or change? [Please leave your comments below]

 

ThomRainer

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on December 8, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

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