Archives For Preaching

We are going to Nicaragua this summer for a mission trip and we are in full fundraising mode. I spoke at a church yesterday and they paid me (like most churches) for my preaching. I immediately put the money in for our Nicaragua trip and was thankful God blessed me with an opportunity to speak and to contribute to the overall trip. By the grace of God Heather and I are half way there with plenty of time left to raise the remaining.

So what does that have to do with you? I set a goal for the mission team to raise $10k by the time we leave and so far we have raised $2765 (See our fundraising page here). That means we are a quarter of the way there. I want to help raise the money for the mission trip by offering my services to other churches. I would like to speak for your youth group retreat, lectureship, weekend seminar, church service when the preacher is absent, family retreat, Wednesday night class, high-school reunion, leadership retreat or whatever. The effort is to raise money for the trip but also to provide you with a service that could be catered to whatever type of need you might have. My areas of interests include (but are not limited to):

  • Youth Ministry (This is really where my heart is): Design, Culture, Training, Organizing, Conflict, Systems Theory, etc.
  • Youth Culture: Having a Biblical Worldview, Adolescent Issues, Family Dynamics, Social Media, Teenagers in Pain (Suicide, Depression, Cutting, Sex Addictions, Porn Addictions, etc.)
  • Theological Topics: Trinity, What does the bible mean for me today?, Church and Kingdom, Sin, Idolatry, Salvation, Mission of God and His People (i.e., Evangelism).
  • Apologetics
  • Textual Studies

Anything you can pick I can try to speak on. In no way does that make me an expert and I will be blunt if I cannot speak on certain things. If nobody wants to take this offer then that is perfectly fine. I am OK with that. I just wanted to throw this out there as an option. Below is an example of a lesson I did with #Hashtag this past summer. It was a neat project but you can see my style of speaking. I have spoken for numerous churches, Heritage Christian University Youth Ministry Lectures, Freed-Hardeman University Lectureship (Youth and Main Sessions), Revival Youth Minister’s Retreat, Numerous Youth Rallies, Evangelism University, Southern Evangelism Conference and other venues. You can email me at “” if you would like to throw some dates out. Keep in mind, I help you but also this helps 30+ go to Nicaragua. Let me know if I can help.

Also, don’t ask me to speak if you feel sorry for me. If you feel sorry then just donate some money to the cause and invite someone else to speak. I think I can help but want you to feel comfortable.

Video Lessons

“Know Who You Are” – Series I did for #Hashtag on Ephesians

Youth Ministry 6.3 – YouTube channel where I interviewed a bunch of people in and around Youth Ministry.

Downloadable Classes and Lessons:

PNEUMATOLOGY 101 – Class taught about the Holy Spirit

Life of David (Part 1) – Teacher Lessons – Lessons taught on the Life of King David

Who is God (Teacher’s Lessons) – Series Taught about the nature of God



Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak at Goodpasture Christian School during their chapel time. I have probably spoken there 20 times since I have been at Main Street. I have also had the pleasure of speaking at numerous FCA events all over the county. It is a daunting task to speak in front of 600-700 junior/senior high kids at 9am and often I wonder if they got anything out of the message. So in your days as a youth minister you will probably be asked to speak in front of teenagers at their school for a religious event and so I want to give you some tips I have learned (you probably know these…I am a slow learner) speaking at different events.

#1 – Gather all of the facts.

How long do you need to speak? What are some things you cannot say? Is there any specific message you want me to mention? Who is the target audience? Who is in the audience (denominations)? What does the facilities look like? Will there be any time for discussion? What kind of sound equipment do they have available? Gather the facts.

#2 – Be Realistic

I had delusions that I would alter the course of their life with one, finely-crafted message and that they would come up to me in droves crying, telling me how much my message meant to them. I am an idiot. Teenagers will text during the message, will think about other things, will be confused or just not care. Our job is to simply bring good news and let the message fall on whomever God wills, however God wills.

#3 – Keep it simple

I know you want to share the Greek syntax with them but they do not care about your 2 years of Greek graduate school and $20k in debt from that Greek (I digress). They need a simple message with a simple point. I recommend two books to help you in that endeavor: Andy Stanley’s Communicating for a Change and Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins’ Speaking to Teenagers.

#4 – Make it fun

I can hear your snarky response: “Dude…” wait a minute you would probably start, “Brother, you are watering down the gospel message by entertaining kids!” I guess you would not like the way Jesus communicated with parable. He probably watered down his own message right? Sheesh. Make it fun. Don’t be inappropriate but make it fun. I once brought tuna, sardines, spoiled milk, jalapenos, brussle spouts and mixed them all in one bowl. I then brought a $20 bill and said, “Who wants it?” Everyone raised their hands and then I put it in the bowl and said, “Who wants it now?” That kid came up and put his hand in the bowl, got the $20 and everyone laughed. I followed up talking about how everyone has value no matter how dirty things in their life get. Make it fun, make a point.

#5 – Tie things in to the gospel message whenever and wherever you can

You have to be sneaky with this in certain contexts but people need to hear the message of salvation in Christ alone, through faith alone by grace alone. Some contexts won’t let you do this but a simple, “God redeemed you on the cross” can get the message through.

What are some other things you have learned?

Some things just get a person in trouble. Many of us have been guilty of writing that scathing e-mail where we use ALL CAPS to get our point across and later regretted we even sent that e-mail. Or maybe you wrote that blog post with every intention of settling the score once-and-for-all only to have 44 comments of people bickering about how wrong you were. Or maybe… just maybe… you were preaching from a book in Scripture and a sermon fell on a particularly controversial passage (say Matt. 19:3-12.. or any thing related to M.D.R. for you coC friends) and you presented a different view and received scathing comments. Either way there has to be some advice one should receive before sending “that” e-mail, preaching “that” sermon or writing “that” article. I have come up with a few suggestions:

  • What is your purpose? Some controversy should just be avoided altogether and your opinion on the matter, albeit important for your faith formation, will probably solve nothing and might even stir the pot a little more. Consider your motives and read 1 Corinthians 16:14 and then write the post.
  • If you can’t take the heat, then stay out of the kitchen. There is a reason why some people avoid the controversy as they do not want to deal with the fallout. This is especially important if your leadership has to deal with some of the darts people throw at you. A leadership may not want to deal with the extra stress so if you don’t have the tools and people to back-up what you say then don’t say it.
  • Let someone older and wiser read what you have to say before you publish it (Prov. 15:22). There are some things I have preached on that were controversial that could have been polished more with the eyes of an older and wiser Christian. I may have said the right thing but I probably said it in the wrong manner.
  • Sticks and stones may break my bones AND words will still hurt me. Be very careful when you label someone. Words like “liberal” and “legalist” and “sacrilegious” and others are probably not helpful, especially when you have not talked with the source. Bashing people online (“trolling”) is a passive-aggressive form of bullying and is weak, cheap and cowardly.

Did I miss anything?

Post-Sermon Cornering

April 16, 2012 — 6 Comments

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 12:18).

Every preacher has experienced this and what I am writing about this morning is not a new concept. After the sermon is over is a time when people like to tell you how much they appreciated the sermon (every preacher knows not to listen to this for he knows that it is about Jesus anyways) and sometimes how much they did not appreciate the sermon. Of course, we preachers tend to forget the compliments but only remember the criticism but I think that is part of human nature. I appreciate people who have questions though and want to talk more after a sermon about something that was said. Or maybe they did not hear something the way I intended and they need furthur clarification. Or maybe I said something and I was just wrong about it. Often I need to man-up and admit it. It was also written:

“If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you” (Prov. 1:23).

Yet, what bothers me more than anything is the nitpicking, holier-than-thou, questions that seem to be Pharasaical in nature rather than seeking truth. I could give you endless examples of times where I needed to be corrected or something needed to be said to me and I took it because it was God-sent. But the nit-picky stuff is unacceptable and my sarcasm shines in these moments.

“You know you said ‘ugh’ like 27 times in your sermon?” My response, “Sorry, I didn’t realize I was in a Toastmasters competition. I will work on that!”

“Robbie, you didn’t wear a tie this past Sunday and we are supposed to ‘wear our best’ when we worship on Sunday morning.” My response, “Next Sunday I will wear what Jesus wore and come in a full tunic, robe, sandals and belt. If it was good enough for Jesus then it is good enough for us.”

“Robbie, you didn’t say ‘in Jesus’ name’ before you said ‘Amen’ when you closed in prayer.” “You’re right…what you think Jesus said when he prayed to His father? In My name I pray, Amen!”

You see, the saracasm is not helpful either. But the minutia is what really bothers me not the genuine search for answers to tough questions. Perry Noble, Pastor of Newspring Church in South Carolina, said this in a sermon entitled “How to change the course of my life in an instant,”:

“There’s questions of clarification and there’s questions of condemnation. I, and this staff, always have time for questions of clarification. We will not engage in questions of condemnation.”

I can feel fine to disagree with people and at the end of the day worship with them but when people come to condemn the message I preached without being open to a different opinion then I will not engage in those questions. If they are open and we disagree then that is clarification but if they disagree and condemn me for my “liberal, unbiblical, uneducated, unsound, un__________ (you fill in the blank)” opinion then I do not have time for this.

Some people enjoy post-sermon arguing but I detest it and will not put up with it unless it is clarification. I enjoy those.

What about you? What do you think? How do you handle those?

The disciples were tired and with the death of John the Baptist (Mark 6:14-29) they probably feared their lives.  Jesus had just sent them out to with the “take nothing with you” commission (6:6-13) and they have had some success with their teachings and healing (6:30).  A crowd gathered and Mark recorded that so many people came and left that they “did not get a chance to eat” (6:31).  Jesus told them to rest at a quiet place but the crowds were persistent and followed he and his disciples to the quiet place which turned out to be not so quiet.  Read what Mark recorded in response to the crowds:

And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” (6:35-36).

If you are paying attention to the narrative you will notice that this response is one of exhaustion and a hint of some burnout.  They are firing on all cylinders, they are in constant fear of their lives, they do not understand Jesus’ teachings, they are hungry, they are tired of all of the people and they just want a bit of rest.  So when they finally get the opportunity to rest in comes more people.

Have you ever felt like the disciples?

They said, “This is a desolate place.”  They probably were speaking literally as there was not much in the manner of provisions for food and water.  The Contemporary English Version says, “this place is like a desert.”  How quick are we to declare something as desolate before god has even spoken?  Missionaries spend a lot of time, resources and money to research a mission field and decide whether the field is “ripe” and ready for mission work.  I understand the point and purpose.  I mean who would want to spend $60,000 a year sending a missionary to Saudi Arabia or the Democratic Republic of Congo?

“When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.”  (6:34)

Jesus would spend that money!  Because he had compassion on them.  The word there is the verb form of the Greek word splagchnon which were the feelings in the inward parts like the intestines.  From the inner core Jesus saw their need and sought to serve them regardless of it being a desolate place.  Jesus told the disciples to feed them much like, in an allegorical way, he has told us to feed the sheep who do not have a shepherd.

Who are we to declare places of potential kingdom as desolate?

I was in a graduate class and I once heard someone say that the days of sitting down and listening to the sermon are over and that we should be more concerned about spending our time elsewhere.  When I get up to preach or am listening to a sermon I wonder whether I should waste my time with sermon preparation and delivery.  When I get up to preach there is always the following groups of people in the audience:

  1. Cadavers – these are the people who from the moment you start your sermon they are asleep.  It’s not that they stay awake late at night but it is the fact that they are either disinterested, distracted or simply just want a good nap.  I once preached a sermon when a little boy put his arms in his sleeves to stay warm and then he fell asleep.  He leaned over in his sleep but his face fell flat on the floor because his arms were stuck in his shirt.  I felt bad but I thought to myself, “He just learned a huge lesson.”   
  2. Counters – You see them looking up either counting the ceiling tiles, the lights, the chandeliers, the pews, the people or the time on the clock.  These people can stay awake but only to concentrate on anything but the sermon itself. 
  3. The Capricious – defines capricious as, those “characterized by or liable to sudden unpredictable changes in attitude or behaviour; impulsive; fickle.”  These are the people who have to get up during the sermon all the time.  They either have to go to the bathroom, drink water, check the bulletin board, count the stairs…see #2…or do anything but listen to the sermon.  Like many churches we have a lot of young parents in our auditorium and I wonder if the young parents take their kids out every sunday because they would rather not listen to the sermon. 
  4. The Concerned – every church has these as well.  These people are smiling at you when you make a good point or you can see a tear come down their face when a tough point is made like the crucifixion of Jesus.  They nod their heads at you almost as if to give you a sense of approval.  They take notes and could tell you (probably better than you) what you preached on three years ago that impacted their lives.  These are the ones who, like the Bereans, “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul [or Robbie] said was true” (Acts 17:11). 

Sometimes this is really discouraging and you wonder if people really knew how much you prepared for that sermon would that change their attitude.  I mean, say you worked on a project at your job for 13-15 hours and someone (with no experience in that project) looked at your work and said, “That’s junk!”  Or if you worked on a project and presented it to a group of people and when you were done they looked at you and said, “I’m sorry…what were you saying?”  How would that make you feel?   

So I ask, “Should I bother preparing  a sermon?”  Maybe we should shift away from the traditional model of preaching and engage in more of a discussion-based time of thought and reflection.  Maybe we should cut the sermon out altogether and have drama, or just singing (because everybody likes that right?), or maybe we should watch a really neat video with moving music and thousand dollar budgets to prick our emotions that, of course, could not be done by simply reading Scripture…notice my sarcasm…I am laying it on pretty thick right now. 

The point is…we should never stop preaching as it is the moment that grounds us in our theology and life that allows us to understand the Divine and how to live according to His principles.  It’s not about us as preachers (it never has been) but it is about declaring the good news of a Savior who forgives anyone for their wrongdoing and this Savior invites you to participate in this relationship and a sermon is an amazing opportunity to declare this good news.  Paul asked this question:

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Romans 10:14

You tell me!  HOW?  So the sermon must go on despite the naysayers, the sleepers and the cynics because there are millions of people who need to know the message and to know it well.  So preach on fellow preachers, ministers, elders and deacons.  Do not lose heart and keep doing what you are doing. 

“Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” 1 Corinthians 9:16


I remember preaching a sermon (no jokes here) where I used a bunch of my recent Greek training and decided to share it with the brethren.  I discussed the various usages of a certain term and traced its lineage back to another word in hopes that it made some glaring significant point that would change the brethren’s lives.  Or, perhaps I used it because I wanted them to know I knew Greek and could read the New Testament in another language.   I wonder how much of the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic language we should bring in to the pulpit.  I think those things are needed to understand a text better but is it really necessary to talk about the jussive stem in front of 300 people in a hot auditorium?  Before you get all uptight and critical about my comment please know that I am not saying we need to promote ignorance in our brethren.  I just do not think it is necessary to talk about this Hebrew word, that Greek tense and this scholar while missing the very point of the text itself.  You have 30 minutes to say something meaningful and to try to explain something in Greek to people who are trained in English is a daunting task.  That’s not to say we can’t mention things like, “When Paul says ‘will be able’ in Romans 8:39 the usage there in Greek literally means that there is no realm of possibility for us to be separated from Christ Jesus.”  What’s wrong with that?  You got to use your Greek training and it came across in a way that made the verse more meaningful. 

For those of you who are cheering me who think it is ridiculous to learn and study biblical languages you are misunderstanding me.  I believe you can preach and be successful without knowing the languages but you are missing out on something special.  You are missing out on acquainting yourself with the language written by the apostles and authors themselves!  You are, in a sense, placing yourself in the biblical world of the times when Jesus ministered and began the church.  It is an amazing thing learning biblical languages but it is also a humbling thing as nobody can master it (even though some people try to convince you that they have mastered it…my response is that we have not even mastered English let alone a dead language). 

What do you people think?  Here is a poll…

As you well know I have had a temporary retreat from blogging.  It was due to a week-long class I took at Lipscomb and also I just wanted to step away for a little.  I decided not to continue the Living with and without campaign because I felt a little Pharasaical for doing it.  Like I wanted attention or something so I quit doing that. 

I am preaching a series of lessons each week surrounding the concept of helping each other and God helping us.  It has been both an eye-opening and ego-humbling experience.  It is for a class at Lipscomb and I have asked a few people to anonymously critique my sermon content, delivery, etc.  It is humbling what people say under the auspices of anonymity.  however, it is needed criticism as sometimes preachers think they know it all…just when you think you do…get critiqued. 

Samuel Edward is doing well but has been unusually fussy these few days.  Madelyn wakes up every night and comes in our bed and the night before Amelia wet her bed.  Life with 4 kids is challenging. 

I came across this verse for my daily devotional and how appropriate it is for perspective: “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job. 2:10).  Not that what is happening in my life is evil, but just challenging.  Adversity is the pill of those who triumph in Christ.

I was sitting in my “Theology of Ministry” class at Lipscomb this past Monday and Dr. Steve Joiner said something to the class that resonated with me all week.  We were discussing some traits that make a good minister and somebody in class said that a characteristic was “wisdom in self-promotion.”  Somehow Dr. Joiner started speaking towards youth ministers and he said, “You youth ministers need to learn how to relate to other people in the congregation and you better learn how to preach as well.”  A requirement for bible majors at Freed-Hardeman University is that they must take Preparation and Delivery of Sermons (I also took Public Speaking, Preacher and His Work, Speech and Expository Preaching.  I also took Preaching and Teaching Biblical Genres at the graduate level at Lipscomb).  In that class we learned how to preach and some specific principals to help us craft our sermon.  As a youth minister I am in awe of these men who week-after-week come up with messages that are both timely and timeless while still being faithful to the text.  I wonder how much training youth ministers receive in preaching or how often they get to preach in front of the congregation.  I understand that a youth minister is not a preacher but it seems the nature of youth ministry affords youth ministers many opportunities to speak and proclaim God’s Word.  FCA devotionals, chapel speeches, camp lessons, retreat lessons, youth rallies, lectureships and seminars are all examples of places I have had to speak at.  So it brings me to the conclusion that all youth ministers should take time from their schedules to learn how to communicate God’s word from the pulpit. 

Let me show you how I practiced what I preach.  This past Sunday, for the first time, I did not use any notes to preach as I memorized my sermon.  That is not to say I had a word-for-word, point-by-point memorization rather I familiarized myself with what I wanted to accomplish so much so that I did not use my notes.  I am not bragging about what I did but it changed my delivery in ways I could not have imagined.  I felt like I could be more engaged with the brethren and it appeared to others (not from my perspective) that I was more comfortable.  I rehearsed the sermon three times andit allowed me to understand the sermon better and for the sermon to flow more naturally.  I preach one full Sunday a month which means I develope probably 24 sermons a year (compared to a regular preacher’s 90-104).  I do not know if I will preach someday (or if anyone wants to hear me!) but doing this has been invaluable to my ministry.  Too often I have gone to different youth functions and have seen youth ministers do a poor (at best) job of speaking.  It came across as if they wrote some things down before they spoke and let God “do the rest.”  Which means they were not prepared.  There needs to be some adequate preparations on our part to be faithful to the text but also faithful to our duty as ministers.  If we give half-hearted jobs at sermons because we are not preachers what does that say about some of the things we do towards our youth ministry?  If we are prone to go in half-cocked in sermons what else are we prone to half-do?  Guys, let us be faithful in our committment to doing the best we can so that God may get the glory.  No youth ministers don’t have to be the best speakers (that’s why they have a pulpit minister) but we don;t need to neglect ways at which we can improve.  Which reminds me, allow some time for feedback from various brethren.  This will help you grow in how you deliver.  Below is a list of some titles in my library that have been tremendous in my sermon preparation.  Have a blessed week!!!

  • H.C. Brown, Jr., H. Gordon Clinard, Jesse J. Northcutt and Al Fasol, Steps to the Sermon, rev.ed., (Nashville: Broadnman & Holman, 1996): 224 pages. 
  • Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins, Speaking to Teenagers, (El Cajon, CA: Youth Specialties, 2007): 237 pages. 
  • Mike Graves, The Sermon as Symphony: Preaching the Literary Forms of the New Testament, (Valley Forge, PA: Judson P, 1997): 257 pages. 
  • Thomas G. Long, The Witness of Preaching, 2nd ed, (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2005): 244 pages. 
  • Haddon W. Robinson, Biblical Preaching, 2nd ed, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001): 245 pages. 
  • Anything Fred Craddock has written would be invaluable to your library.   

If you are a preacher, related to a preacher, married to a preacher or ever wanted to understand what happens to a preacher read this amazing post by Dale Jenkins, minister of the Spring Meadows church of Christ.  Read this…it is one of the best posts I have read about ministry.   

“Your Ministry”