Blog Archives

The Call to Preach is not just for Preachers

PreachingGrateful for Tim Keller’s latest book Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism, in which he writes that the New Testament call to preach goes beyond just pulpit ministry. Keller argues that there are three levels of preaching.

Level 1 would be through everyday Christian conversation. “Paul calls all believers to ‘let the message of Christ dwell among you richly’ & ‘teach & admonish one another in all wisdom’ (Colossians 3:16).”

Level 2 would be through things like “writing, blogging, teaching classes & small groups, mentoring, moderating open discussion groups on issues of faith, & so on.”

Level 3 would be preaching as we typically define it today – “the public preaching & exposition of the Bible to assembled gatherings.”

I appreciate these distinctions, because I’ve run into people that say they are called to preach, but then when you suggest they come along to the jail or start a small group or teach a sunday school class, they are unenthused. Biblical preaching seldom included a pulpit because such a thing didn’t yet exist. And sometimes we seem to think that vocational preaching is the highest rung on the ladder & everybody else is just a mere volunteer. Praying we recover Levels 1 & 2, without neglecting Level 3 & that we see all our conversation as preaching instead of preaching as just a possible career.

A few other favorite quotes from Tim Keller in Preaching:

  • Every Christian needs to understand the message of the Bible well enough to explain and apply it to other Christians and to his neighbors in informal and personal settings.
  • It is dangerous, then, to fall into the unbiblical belief that the ministry of the Word is simply preaching.
  • No church should expect that all the life transformation that comes from the Word of God comes strictly through preaching.
  • We must beware of thinking the Sunday sermon can carry all the freight of any church’s ministry of the Word.
  • a church’s gospel ministry should be “pulpit-centered, but no pulpit-restricted.”
  • while the difference between a bad sermon and a good sermon is mainly the responsibility of the preacher, the difference between good preaching and great preaching lies mainly in the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the listener as well as the preacher.
  • Every time you expound a Bible text, you are not finished unless you demonstrate how it shows us that we cannot save ourselves and that only Jesus can.
  • we are loved sinners in Christ – so loved that we don’t have to despair when we do wrong, so sinful that we have no right to be puffed up when we do right
  • the temptation will be to let the pulpit drive you to the word, but instead you must let the Word drive you to the pulpit.

Keller’s book is also VERY insightful, as always, on preaching in our modern cultural context. Highly recommend adding this book to your library if you haven’t already.

Is Your Church Ready to Make a Lasting Impact?

LastingImpactCarey Nieuwhof’s new book Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations to Help Your Church Grow is a great book to help you and your staff navigate change and how cultural shifts will be impacting your ministry in the future. Lots of challenging questions to help diagnose barriers to growth and help identify needed adjustments to reach a new generation. Here’s just a few of the powerful statements that have stuck with me and that I’m sharing with my staff and other church leaders regularly since reading this book:

  • In every decision, focus on who you want to reach, not on who you want to keep.
  • leaders who value attendance over engagement will see declining attendance.
  • You need a flexible on-ramp that allows people to hang in the shadows for a while as they make up their minds and one that allows multiple jumping-in points throughout the year.
  • The more you prioritize families, the more families will prioritize Sundays.
  • A church that has a white hot sense of mission will almost always have the resources it needs to do what the church is called to do.
  • Churches that love their model more than their mission will die.
  • If we continue doing what we’re doing today, where will we be one year, two years, and five years from now?

Also, the chapter on Cultural Trends and how Netflix is influencing the culture is worth the price of the book. Must read for church leaders.

You can also find Carey Nieuwhof’s informative podcast on Itunes. Check him out online at

Am I Neighboring Well? Diagnostic Quesitons

stayingisthenewgoingJust finished Alan Briggs’ book Staying is the New Going. Challenging book & easy to read. Briggs is a church planter in Colorado who challenges readers to stay well in their community through being a good neighbor, loving your city, embracing tension, drop wanderlust, etc. This book really makes you think & examine yourself by asking great questions. I found myself going back to these questions, during & now after reading, so I thought I’d share. I’m calling these Diagnostic Questions for Neighboring Well:

  1. Would anyone care if you put a for sale sign in your yard?
  2. Are you a character in the story of your neighborhood? Would others truly consider you a character in the story of your place?
  3. Is your home a fortress from life or a hub for life? A hub for ministry or a refuge from ministry?
  4. How many people enter your house in the course of a month? How many of those people don’t know Jesus?
  5. lingering is a sign others are comfortable enough to stay when everyone else has gone. How many people have lingered in your home this month?
  6. You know people are getting comfortable with you when they start to inconvenience you. How many last-minute favors have friends and neighbors asked of you this month?
  7. How many meals have you shared with people far from the church this month?
  8. How many unexpected opportunities have you seized for the sake of embodying and proclaiming the gospel?
For church leaders:
  • How many invitations have you had to serve on a community board or leadership team?
  • Would the businesses, residents, and organization around your church building care if your church relocated?

A few other quotes from the book that have stuck with me:

  • Our mission trip began the day we were born; it ends when God calls us home.
  • Christ followers should be a gift to their neighborhood, and a church should be a gift to its city.
  • It’s always easier to lust after other places than to face the hard realities of our own place.
  • How sad would it be if our neighbors only know us as the ones who drive to church on weekends, but never bring the gospel home with us.

Well worth reading! Look forward to taking up the challenge to stay well.

%d bloggers like this: