Marriage 101 — Our March 2017 Sermon Series is Now Available for Download

Our March Sermon Series, Marriage 101, is designed to help married couples to build their relationship on a solid, biblical foundation, and to instruct those considering marriage how to start off on the right foot. This is a practical, God-honoring series that takes marriage very seriously.

03-05-2017 — God’s Dream for You
03-12-2017 — Four Keys to Intimacy
03-19-2017 — Enjoying our Differences
03-26-2017 — How to Fight Fair

If you are already a subscriber, just go to the following link to login:

If you are not yet a subscriber, just go to this link to sign up:​

How to Make Changes in the Church Without Being Asked to Resign

By Barry L. Davis

I’m sure a lot of you can relate to the scenario taking place in the cartoon below:

Cartoon by Dennis Fletcher from

Almost without fail, when you candidate at a church they will tell you early on that they are specifically looking for someone who will lead them to make the necessary changes for growth. If you’ve been in the ministry for very long, you know that this is a lie 99% of the time. They don’t mean to lie, and most of them have convinced themselves that they really do want change, but once changes start to take place, the complaints begin to pile up, and most of the time, you are the fall guy.

Well guess what? I’ve discovered a solution to this problem. It won’t work in every single case, and probably shouldn’t be used in all of them, but most of the time it works just great. Are you ready for the secret? Here goes – MAKE CHANGES ON A TRIAL BASIS! I am not talking about trickery here, or manipulation, I’m talking about actually making most changes on a trial basis.

Let me give you two examples that worked very well for me:

I was at a church that was stagnant in the growth department, to put it mildly. Our worship service was completely dead and we were not reaching anyone for the Lord. I truly believed that starting a second, more contemporary worship service would help us, but the truth was, I wasn’t sure. (God doesn’t always speak to us audibly concerning these matters, does He?). I knew that if I wasn’t sure, the congregation wouldn’t be either, and as a matter of fact, I KNEW of a few people that wouldn’t like it because they didn’t like any change whatsoever. So here is how I presented it – I went to the board and told them the reasons I thought starting a second service was a good idea and what type of resources we would need to pull it off. I also told them that while I thought it was a great idea, I couldn’t be sure until we tried it, and suggested we do it on a six month trial basis. If at the end of six months we didn’t feel like this was the direction to go, we would scrap it. We presented the same idea to the congregation, and guess what? I didn’t have one single person complain about it! Not one! They knew that there was an out if it flopped.

Way back when video projectors were just being introduced in churches I really believed it would enhance our worship. We spoke to a local vendor who agreed to let us borrow one for three months, with the understanding that if we decided to buy we would purchase from him. We told the congregation about what we were doing and let them know at the end of three months we would make a decision one way or the other and we wanted their input after they had seen it in use for a while. Believe it or not, the most elderly members of our congregation came to us and said that they loved it! They could see the words better than they could in the hymnal, and they could hear the congregation better since everyone’s heads were up and facing forward.

Now lest you think that I believe every decision in the church should be made democratically with input from the whole congregation, I do not. BUT…when it comes to things that are not a matter of doctrine, or urgency, oftentimes it is best to allow changes on a trial basis as I’ve described above. You don’t have to vote on these items, but you can get a consensus on how the congregation feels about the change once it is in place. Many are pleasantly surprised to find out that they love the change they thought they would be opposed to. And the truth is, it’s nice to know if something doesn’t work that we can toss it and move on. I can’t tell you how many pastors I know who hold onto a program just because it was their idea, even though they know it is failing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below:


Barry L. Davis spent two decades as a Senior Pastor and started the ministry of The Pastor’s Helper in 1997. The Pastor’s Helper strives to provide tools and resources to help pastors succeed in their ministry calling. His latest book is God-Driven Leadership: A Call to Seeing, Believing, and Living in Accordance with Scriptural Principles.

Should I Practice My Sermon Delivery?

By Barry L. Davis

When I first began preaching I was extremely nervous. I had no experience in public speaking and was terrified to stand in front of a crowd. My first sermon took place while I was a freshman in Bible College. A fellow student had a weekend ministry at a rural church and asked me to fill in for him one Sunday. Once I had all my notes together I had my wife sit on the bed in our room at the back of our mobile home, stacked up some books on top of a dresser to use as a makeshift pulpit, and asked her to sit and listen to me while I practiced my sermon. She said it was good, but I knew she was just being nice.

Soon afterward I was able to acquire my own weekend ministry and even lived in the parsonage next to the church. Every Saturday I would take my notes over to the church, stand behind the pulpit, and practice my sermon with the empty pews in front of me. As I preached I would make notations in my manuscript whenever I felt a change was needed. By the time Sunday came around I stood there with pages of typewritten notes with handwritten scrawls in the margins, words crossed out, and sometimes even reminders to pause – all of this was the result of my practice, and it worked well for me.

While these days I do not practice from the pulpit, or from a stack of books in the bedroom, I still go over my notes in my office, and oftentimes I will use a stand or something else at hand that will be close in height to the pulpit I’ll use on Sunday. I generally go over my notes on Saturday evening and again early Sunday morning. And just like the old days, I keep my pen handy and make changes as I go.

So, should you practice your sermon before you preach? I believe that you should. Let me share some reasons why:

  1. Your word choices will be clarified. – Some of the words that come from your mind through your keyboard do not translate well when you say them out loud. Hearing your sermon will help you know for sure whether you’ve made the right choices.
  2. Your timing will improve. – The cadence of your sermon is more important than many people realize. Practicing your sermon will help you to build a rhythm that will help your audience to track with you and what you are trying to say.
  3. You will not need to rely on your notes as much. – Your practice time will make you more familiar with your message, which means you will not need to look at your notes nearly as often.
  4. You will learn what to emphasize. – As you speak the words out loud, the concepts and truths that need the most emphasis will become clear to you. Many times they are different than what you thought they should be when you were writing down your notes.
  5. You will know what to cut. – There will be words, phrases, and entire sections of your message that you will find just don’t work. Often illustrations that seemed perfect on the written page just don’t flow with the message when spoken out loud.
  6. Your confidence will grow. – When the words start flowing and changes are made, you will become more and more assured of the message God is giving you to deliver. You have prayed, studied, initially planned your message, and now have refined it to the point that you know it will have a powerful impact on your hearers.
  7. You will gain a brand new perspective. – I’m going to add a new wrinkle here: You need to occasionally record your sermon (preferably on video) while you practice and also when you deliver it to the church. This will help you to hear and see the same thing as your audience. You will hear and see some things that you don’t like – but that is a good thing – because it will help you to know specifically what types of things you need to change.

I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions below!



Barry L. Davis spent two decades as a Senior Pastor and started the ministry of The Pastor’s Helper in 1997. The Pastor’s Helper strives to provide tools and resources to help pastors succeed in their ministry calling. His latest book is God-Driven Leadership: A Call to Seeing, Believing, and Living in Accordance with Scriptural Principles.

The Four Be’s of Preaching

Below is a summary of four of the most important things to remember when preparing a sermon.

  1. Be Biblical – It should go without saying that your message should be solidly based on Scripture. Unfortunately, in this day and age it does need to be said. I cannot tell you how many sermons I have heard that are based on opinion, culture, or entertainment, with only scant mention of Scripture. If the Bible is not the foundation of your preaching, you are not preaching, you’re just giving a speech.
  2. Be Intentional – I’m sure you’ve heard the old joke about the preacher who “went everywhere preaching the Gospel.” The reference is to preachers who cannot stay on point and go chasing rabbits throughout their message. There should be one main purpose to every sermon you preach, even if there are several points to the message that help you to convey that purpose. Read through the teachings of Jesus and you will discover, without fail, He always had one purpose and He never wavered from it – not even once!
  3. Be Relational – You must move from the text to the lives of your hearers. Scriptural preaching without application is only taking your audience to the halfway point. You must explain to your listeners how the text applies to their everyday lives and then challenge them to make that application. We want to take people from knowing the truth, to living the truth.
  4. Be Brief – While I’m sure to get some disagreement from this statement, in most situations you should not preach for more than 30 minutes. If you cannot get your message across in that amount of time, you might want to rewrite your sermon, or split it into a short series. While we might not have the full text of Jesus’ sermons, we know that what we do have are very brief, to the point sermons which honor the time of those He was speaking to.

Obviously this is not an exhaustive list, but it should help you to better plan your sermons and can be used as a grid through which you test your messages to see if they fit this pattern. I can guarantee you that if you actually apply these four “be’s” to your sermons you will see a dramatic increase in the response of your listeners.

I’d love to hear your comments below!


Barry L. Davis


Barry L. Davis spent two decades as a Senior Pastor and started the ministry of The Pastor’s Helper in 1997. The Pastor’s Helper strives to provide tools and resources to help pastors succeed in their ministry calling. His latest book is God-Driven Leadership: A Call to Seeing, Believing, and Living in Accordance with Scriptural Principles.


By Thom S. Rainer

It happens too frequently.

It can be the lead pastor or any church staff member.

And too many churches do not handle such tragedy well.

But many churches do. Allow me to share some of the best responses I have heard from churches that have gone through this tragic time.

  1. Terminate with compassion. Almost without exception, the pastor is terminated. But termination does not have to be without compassion. The pastor’s family will need financial provisions; thus many churches provide compassionate severances. And though pastors have full responsibility for their sins, they are hurting as well. Tough love and compassionate love are in order here.
  2. Don’t forget the pastor’s family. They have felt the greatest amount of betrayal. They are humiliated and hurt. This person they likely held in high esteem has fallen hard. The family needs compassion, love, attention, and counseling. Many church members do not know what to say, so they say nothing. I know one church member who sent the spouse and the children a simple handwritten note: “I have not forgotten you. I am here for you. I am praying for you.” It made all the difference in the world.
  3. Be forthright with the congregation. The rumors are often worse than reality. You don’t have to give the sordid details. But the church needs to know the pastor was terminated because of moral failure. Speak to the congregation succinctly, honestly, and compassionately.
  4. Provide resources for reconciliation. God’s ideal plan is for the couple to stay together—to make it through this terrible ordeal. The church can be an instrument of that process back to reconciliation. The church can provide the resources so that the couple can get strong Christian counseling. The process should also be one that seeks restoration for the pastor. That restoration may not mean that pastors are restored to their former office; it does mean the path should include a way to be restored to the congregation.
  5. Don’t forget the pain of the congregation. Many of them feel betrayed. Most of them feel hurt. Find ways to minister to the members for the next several months as they deal with this issue.
  6. Begin a ministry of prayer for this situation. I have been so encouraged to see some churches actually deal with this issue through a specific prayer ministry. One church offered a prayer and reconciliation time after every service. It only lasted a few minutes, and attendance was totally voluntary. But the responses were incredible, both in numbers attending and in the way people were impacted. The church began this ministry with a stated goal of continuing it for three months. It made a huge difference in the healing impact on the church.

When the pastor has an affair, it is a tragedy of huge proportions. But the church can respond biblically, redemptively, and compassionately.

It the midst of this awful situation, the church has the opportunity truly to be the body of Christ.



This article was originally published at on February 6, 2017. 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

20 Questions a Pastoral Candidate Should Ask a Search Committee

by Joe McKeever

Here’s the situation.  You, the pastoral candidate, are sitting in a room with a committee of anywhere from 6 to 20 people. They have spent the evening tossing questions, real and theoretical, at you.  You are drained and everyone is ready for the evening to end.

But not yet.  Finally, the chair says, “And pastor, is there anything you would like to ask us?”

You bring out your list.

Now, if everyone has been sitting for an hour or more, you might want to suggest a stand-up break before you start. That signals them that this is important too, just as critical as what went before, and that they should not be expecting to (ahem) get out early.  (After all, there is no guarantee you will ever have another visit with these folks. Even if nothing comes from this interview, your questions could help them learn how pastors see this process.)

In most cases, this is a briefer period than their interview with you, usually no more than 30 minutes.  Make the questions clear and ask for clarifications on responses you do not understand.  Always remember that open-ended questions, those that allow for thoughtful responses, are always best.

Your questions for the PSC will fall into two categories: Those to be asked of the chairman/leadership in private and those laid before the entire committee.

What questions would you ask the chairman in private?  Answer: Things that might be considered embarrassing or presumptuous or of a private nature.  If the church has come through a split or if they fired the previous pastor, this is better dealt with in a one-on-one with the chair than in the entire group. By asking it to the entire committee, you run the risk of opening an old wound or reviving a previous division.  Ask it in private.

If the pastor candidate has something in his life that might be considered a deal-breaker (“I’m divorced” or “One of my children is gay” or “Our son is in prison”), these are better shared in private.  Then, when he/she thinks it’s appropriate, the chair can inform the full committee.

I suggest everyone keep notes. The minister in particular should scribble quick notes on what is said and transcribe them into longer, fuller reports on returning to his room.  No one should trust their memory on these matters. So much is said, much serious and some in jest, some implied and some explicit, which will be forgotten within hours.  Write it down.

Possible questions the minister will want to put before the pastor search committee include….

1) What are the 3 most important things you want from your pastor?

Get ready for their answers to be all over the map.  Most committees have not talked this out, and their expectations are as scattered as the congregation’s are. Nevertheless, jot down their answers. Then, consider pointing out to them the wide variety of their answers and how this is typical of congregations and they should never forget this.  Then, make whatever point you wish about this, if any.

2) What is your church’s position on (fill in the blank; some issue important to you personally)?

This could be a question on doctrine, a denominational controversy, some issue in their community, divorced deacons, divorce itself, homosexuality, entrenched leadership (i.e., treasurer or deacon chairman who has held the same position for 30 years), the pastor knowing how much people are contributing and who is tithing, and such.  You could go anywhere with this question, but should limit it to one or two issues of great weight to you.

3) Does your church provide (blank) for the minister and his family?

This might be a housing allowance or health care, expenses for the wife to accompany the pastor to the annual denominational conference, a pastorium (manse), etc. In most cases, this will have already been made clear to you.

4) Which translation of the Bible does your church use?

You’re looking for stumps in this field you may be asked to plow. If you are KJV only and the people are using many modern translations–or if the opposite is the case–you need to know this going in.  What you do with the information is up to you.

5) Has the church ever given a pastor a sabbatical (a few weeks off to rest or study or travel or visit other churches)?

Over a ministry of a half-century, I received this twice and the benefits continue to this day. I recommend it strongly, both for the church (in many cases, they will get a new pastor for their investment) and for the minister, who needs the break.  The church should continue all salary and benefits and cover expenses for ministers who fill in during the preacher’s absence. A visionary congregation will do this. Churches that do not do this have usually never been asked to do so or shown the reasons for the practice.

6) How does your church expect the pastor to dress, both for Sunday services and during the week?

When I began pastoring in the early 1960s, ministers wore suits and ties 6 days a week. These days, in most of the churches where I preach, almost no one is wearing a tie. A new pastor needs to know the expectations of the members.

7) Has your church ever had to discipline a member? If so, I’d like to hear about it. If not, why not?

This is a big deal with many ministers and not so much with others.  In either case, you would like to know the answer to this question.

8) How is your church different from the others in your city?

You would like to hear that they know precisely the role the Holy Spirit has called them for and that they are filling it.  How they answer this question will say volumes about themselves.

9) Is your church open to change? Can you give me an instance one way or the other?

10) What would be my biggest challenge as your pastor?

11) How are decisions made around here?

This is a loaded question.  Few things will affect your ministry more than knowing how this church does its work and makes crucial decisions.  Pay close attention to responses. If possible, after someone answers it, ask, “Does everyone agree with that?” and wait for responses.

You need to know what you are walking into.

12) What in particular made you interested in me as a candidate?  What is your biggest concern about me?

This concerns their expectations and will reveal how much or how little they know you.

13) Is the pastor free to make mistakes? Or are the expectations through the roof?

In college football, if the new coach follows a fellow who had not won a game in five years, the expectations are low and he is free to try different things. If, however, he is following Nick Saban at Alabama, the expectations are sky high and almost no allowance for failure is given. They expect to go undefeated and win the national championship every yerar.  In the same way, a new pastor will want to know if he has time and be given the latitude to try things, some of which will not work out.

14) Does your church work with others in the community? Give me an instance or two.

A negative answer to this is not a deal-breaker but will reveal how much work the new pastor has if he is to lead the members to become team members with others of the Lord’s family.  When the Lord said we would be known by our love, He was not referring only to the members of our particular flock.  No church can win a city alone.

15) How are newcomers assimilated into your church family?

16) Would you describe your church as more “risk taking” (daring) or “care taking” (cautious)?

17) A question about “fit.”  What kind of pastor do you tell friends your church needs?

This is a great question. The answers you receive will tell you what expectations you are up against.

18) What challenges is this congregation facing at the moment?  In the next 5 to 10 years?

You’re trying to uncover hidden agendas.  Until now, the snow job the committee has done on you (I say with the greatest of admiration–lol) would have made the chamber of commerce proud. But now, you will find that a huge plant in the city has announced plans to move to Mexico and many church members will find themselves unemployed. Or, you may learn that the Air Force Base near the church is closing next year. Or, that the church is located on a toxic land field and needs to relocate.  (These are actual things we have heard in such situations.)

19)What is the best thing this church has done in the last five years?

You should get several answers to this. After the first enthusiastic response, say, “Anyone else?” And wait for it.

The answers will reveal the heart of these people and may tell you volumes about what makes the congregation tick.

20) Finally, consider making your last question some version of this: “What question did you expect from me tonight that I did not ask?”

This is a variation of a technique used by Bill Cosby and Art Linkletter in their (old) television work with children.  At some point during the program, they would sidle up to the kids and say, “Hey, what did your mother tell you not to say on television?” The answers were often hilarious.

Okay. Now….

You certainly will not want to ask all those questions, but just the few that seem more appropriate.  I suggest taking your complete list of questions into the meeting with you, and through the evening, mark off those that are answered earlier while circling the ones you definitely intend to ask when given the opportunity.

Never forget that asking questions is an art.

When you ask something, phrase it succinctly and shut up. Do not continue talking and offer alternatives and explanations and end up answering it yourself. The ability to ask a good question is a wonderful talent to possess.

God bless you. I hope things work out for you.



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


We have had more requests to make past sermon series available from our Subscription Series than any other resource. It has taken us awhile to get it all together, but the following Sermons are now available for Immediate Download at:


Sermon #1 — The Bible is a Tool for You to Use
Sermon #2 — The Bible is a Gift from God to You
Sermon #3 — The Bible Will Change Your Life


Sermon #1 — The Design of the Church
Sermon #2 — The Structure of the Church
Sermon #3 — The Arithmetic of the Church
Sermon #4 — The Membership of the Church


Sermon #1 — Renewed by the Spirit
Sermon #2 — Renewed by our Vision
Sermon #3 — Renewed by our Thinking


Sermon #1 — The Source of Eternal Life
Sermon #2 — The Possession of Eternal Life
Sermon #3 — The Fullness of Eternal Life
Sermon #4 — The Power of Eternal Life


Sermon #1 — God is Able
Sermon #2 — The Power at Work
Sermon #3 — For God’s Glory
Sermon #4 — Throughout All Generations


Sermon #1 — John 3:16
Sermon #2 — Ephesians 3:16
Sermon #3 — Colossians 3:16
Sermon #4 — 1 Timothy 3:16
Sermon #5 — 1 John 3:16


Sermon #1 — I Am Secure
Sermon #2 — I Am Free from Condemnation
Sermon #3 — I Am God’s Temple
Sermon #4 — I Am God’s Anointed
Sermon #5 — I Am a Citizen of Heaven


Sermon #1 — God Brings Us Joy
Sermon #2 — God Shepherds Us
Sermon #3 — God Counsels Us
Sermon #4 — God Leads Us


Sermon #1 — Lost
Sermon #2 — Obey
Sermon #3 — Holy
Sermon #4 — Hell
Sermon #5 — Fear


Sermon #1 — Dedicated to Compassion
Sermon #2 — Developed by Right Thinking
Sermon #3 — Driven by a Bold Spirit


Sermon #1 — Faithful in Caring for Us
Sermon #2 — Faithful in Our Trials
Sermon #3 — Faithful in Our Temptations
Sermon #4 — Faithful to His Promises


Sermon #1 — The Need for Blood
Sermon #2 — The Need for Faith
Sermon #3 — The Need for Holiness
Sermon #4 — The Need for Discipline


Sermon #1 — They Lived in Expectancy
Sermon #2 — They Focused on Fellowship
Sermon #3 — They Cultivated Courage
Sermon #4 — They Emphasized Outreach


Sermon #1 — Jesus: Our Example
Sermon #2 — Jesus: Our Power
Sermon #3 — Jesus: Our Ransom
Sermon #4 — Jesus: Our Coming One


Sermon #1 — Receive It
Sermon #2 — Live It
Sermon #3 — Share It


Sermon #1 — What Do We Need to Change to Live Like Jesus?
Sermon #2 — With Jesus in the Desert
Sermon #3 — With Jesus in the Community
Sermon #4 — With Jesus, Touching the Untouchable
Sermon #5 — We Can Do It!


Sermon #1 — Faith Under Pressure
Sermon #2 — Faith In Action
Sermon #3 — Faith Under Control
Sermon #4 — Faith that Submits
Sermon #5 — Faith that Prays


Sermon #1 — A Family with Purpose
Sermon #2 — A Family in Peace
Sermon #3 — A Family in Process
Sermon #4 — A Family in Recovery


Sermon #1 — U-Turn
Sermon #2 — Yield
Sermon #3 — Curve Ahead


Sermon #1 — Why Does God Allow Suffering?
Sermon #2 — How Do I Know I Can Trust the Bible?
Sermon #3 — Is It Wrong to Live a Homosexual Lifestyle?
Sermon #4 — What Am I Supposed to Do When Life Knocks Me Down?


Sermon #1 — I’m Going to Set My Priorities
Sermon #2 — I’m Going to Follow Jesus
Sermon #3 — I’m Going to Discover My Purpose
Sermon #4 — I’m Going to Focus on Relationships


Sermon #1 — Dealing With Conflict
Sermon #2 — Controlling the Chaos
Sermon #3 — Bringing Light to Darkness
Sermon #4 — Valuing What Matters


Sermon #1 — A Cross
Sermon #2 — A Towel
Sermon #3 — A Yoke
Sermon #4 — A Mission


Sermon #1 — The Spirit’s Testimony
Sermon #2 — The Spirit’s Power
Sermon #3 — The Spirit’s Work
Sermon #4 — The Spirit’s Filling


Sermon #1 — The Power of One Person
Sermon #2 — The Power of One Prayer
Sermon #3 — The Power of One Invitation
Sermon #4 — The Power of One Vision


Sermon #1 — A God Who Loves Me
Sermon #2 — A God Who Transforms Me
Sermon #3 — A God Who Assures Me


Sermon #1 — You are the Salt of the Earth
Sermon #2 — You are the Light of the World
Sermon #3 — You are Not Alarmed
Sermon #4 — You are Blessed by the Father


Sermon #1 — A Church that Includes You
Sermon #2 — A Church that Instructs You
Sermon #3 — A Church that Involves You
Sermon #4 — A Church that Invests in You


Sermon #1 — Noah: One Person Can Make a Difference
Sermon #2 — Joseph: Don’t Give Up on Your Dream
Sermon #3 — Nehemiah: Big Problems Can Be Solved
Sermon #4 — Esther: God Has Placed You Where He Needs You
Sermon #5 — Hannah: Your Child’s Future is in Your Hands



Sermon #1 — Why Jesus Came
Sermon #2 — Who Jesus Is
Sermon #3 — What Jesus Offers


Sermon #1 — The Gift of Strength
Sermon #2 — The Gift of Joy
Sermon #3 — The Gift of Christmas
Sermon #4 — The Gift of Hope


Sermon #1 — O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Sermon #2 — Joy to the World
Sermon #3 — Go Tell It on the Mountain
Sermon #4 — Mary, Did You Know?


A New You for the New Year

Easter – Facts and Acts

How Does Easter Impact My Life?

What M.O.M. Stands For

Leaving A Legacy (Mother’s Day)

How to be the Perfect Woman (Mother’s Day)

How to Be a Godly Father

God’s Kind of Father

A God Who Develops Me (Father’s Day)

Thanksgiving Commands

Abounding in Thanksgiving

Who Deserves Our Thanks?

1 2 3 4 5 6 17