Who Are The Preachers I Learn From?

I watch and listen to 10-15 sermons a week from other preachers. This is not part of my sermon preparation, it is part of my personal growth plan.

I listen to other preachers because I need someone to preach to me. If spiritual nourishment only flows out of me and never into me, I will quickly be emptied.

I listen to other preachers because I learn from their technique. Every preacher is different and every sermon is different. I learn about structuring a sermon, extracting truth from a passage, presenting a message and more by watching and listening to others who do it differently than I do.

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I don’t align perfectly with the theology or practice of all these preachers. Yet, we’re all playing on the same team and I find I learn a great deal from them even when my ears perk up due to a minor doctrinal difference.

Here are a few of my favorites to watch:

Keith Sandison. Calvary Church, Muskegon, MI. Keith is an old friend, a former team-mate and a one-time student of mine. His passion for Jesus and desire to point others to Him is matched by few.

Jason Tovey and Josh Tovey. Grand Rapids, Michigan. These two brothers have been around my life since they were in middle school and high school. Now they are both lead pastors in the same city. Their styles are different, but they both feed their people solid biblical content every week.

Paul Robie. South Mountain Christian Church, Draper, UT. Paul planted a church in the middle of Mormon country and over the past few decades it has grown into a thriving multi-site church. He doesn’t preach as much anymore, but when he does his messages are practical and accessible with an unexpected depth.

Mark Driscoll. Yup. him. His style is unique and his past is checkered, but Balaam even learned from a donkey, right? Actually, I like Mark. He is unapologetically committed to the authority of Scripture, and while that is not as popular a place to be anymore, I still appreciate it.

Doug Sauder. Calvary Chapel, Ft. Lauderdale. I have a secret crush on the Calvary Chapel movement. I love that they are fully committed to verse-by-verse teaching. Doug’s church is one of the largest in America. His preaching is to-the-point and conversational and his delivery has just the right amount of energy to keep you interested without overwhelming you.

Rick Warren. Although Rick isn’t a regular of mine, he has an unending supply of sermons on Youtube and I can often find a sermon of his that deals with a topic I’m wrestling through. I don’t preach exactly like Rick but I greatly appreciate his systematic approach and his willingness to pack his sermons with helpful and growth-oriented content.

Here are a few of my favorites to listen to: (these are the preachers currently on my phone’s podcast app)

Jonathan Misirian. Southbrook Church, Franklin, WI. Jonathan and I were freshmen together in college. He’s done an incredible job of pastoring the people in his church and turning around a church that had become stagnant. Jonathan’s delivery is pastoral, you can sense the love he has for the people in his church. His messages are always relevant for today and he has found a way to strike a healthy balance between being gospel-focused and missionally active.

Vince Black. The Town Church, Fort Collins, CO. Vince and I worked together at a summer camp 20 years ago. Since then we’ve stayed in touch and tried to encourage each other through the different phases of ministry. He planted the Town Church several years ago with the Acts 29 group. His sermons are Christ-centered and thoughtful. He draws great insights out of each text he covers.

Community Christian Church. Chicago. CCC was one of the pioneer churches in the multi-site movement. They have mastered a process of building every week’s sermon with a team. The result is a finely tuned presentation that focuses people’s attention on one Big Idea (which is the name of their book about this process). This is not a slight, but I listen to these sermons less for the content and more to learn about their structure. They do a great job of illustrating their main point and then creating practical and achievable next steps for their listeners.

This is just a taste of what is available today. Technology has provided us with a goldmine of resources we can share with one another. It is now possible to have sermons playing in the background of your study all day long if you like (I rarely listen to music as I feel more inspired if I’m listening to others preach). If you don’t like the list I’ve created, make your own and learn from them!

And… if you want to watch/listen to my sermons, you can do it here.

 

 

Preaching is a skill which must be cultivated

No one looks back at their first sermon and says, “That was the best one ever. It’s only been downhill since then.”

Like most pursuits in life, we get better at preaching the more we preach. While preaching is a gift and some are certainly more gifted than others; the harder you work at it, the better you’ll be. Working on your preaching ability is as important as your weekly sermon preparation.

Every week I spend time reading about preaching, public speaking, writing, marketing, sales and even stand-up comedy. These disciplines all share commonalities with the weekly sermon and I have discovered one can learn much by listening to what others are doing. Below are a few links I have found helpful. Perhaps you will also:

How To Prepare A Sermon Well

This is a collection of a few preacher’s “best practices” for sermon preparation. Each pastor walks through the week and highlights his sermon prep practices for each day. Those who struggle to develop regular habits and discipline may find these lists particularly helpful.

(A few marketing links are sprinkled throughout, so be aware you may end up getting pitched the latest and greatest preaching software if you click too much)

Kevin Myers’ Sermon Preparation Tools

a-great-sermon-isnt-an-accident-300x300.jpgKevin Myers is the senior pastor of 12Stone Church, one of the largest churches in the U.S. and the nation‘s fastest growing in 2010. In 2003, he created these resources  for a Pastor’s Coach Article on www.DanReiland.com.

Many have asked for copies since it was published. When it was originally written, 12Stone had one campus and 3 services on a weekend (Sunday at 9am, 11am, and 6pm). As of 2014 we have 5 services (Saturday 6pm, Sunday 9am, 11am, 1pm, and 6pm) and we simulcast to the other 3 campuses. These thoughts are even more applicable now as when they were written.

Check out Kevin on twitter @KevinMyerspk.

4 Speaking Mistakes That Could Jeopardize Your Career

No matter the audience, presenting yourself as a polished professional is essential for long-term credibility and ongoing impact. The same verbal tics that are inconsequential in everyday conversation take on new significance in a preaching setting. This article highlights a few of the most debilitating speaking habits to be on the lookout for.

While this article is primarily targeted at public speakers, the advice offered is solid for all preachers. Those of us who have been given the most important message ever must be very careful not to damage the message because we didn’t work hard to present it well.

Ken Sterling is the author. You can see him on twitter @Ken_Sterling.

 

How I Use Pinterest To Prepare Sermons

Pinterest is likely not the first place most pastors turn for help in preparing their sermons. Pinterest may, however, be at least one place pastors turn before they finish preparing their sermons. Those who are willing to at least give it a shot and create an account may discover a trove of resources they never expected. I use Pinterest almost every week when preparing to preach. Here are three resources I regularly mine from this social media network:

Story-Telling Help

6dd9a3412b7a628418018e9c0b1ce9a5If you are a preacher, you are a story-teller. You should be regularly working to hone your story-telling craft. Pinterest is over-run with writers and aspiring writers who love to share their trade secrets with one another. Searching terms such as “story”, “writing” or “plot” will reveal lists, links, articles and charts all designed to make you a better story teller. I attempt to spend a little time each week reading story-telling material. I look for places in each sermon to implement the lessons I’m learning. Occasionally, when it works, I’ll structure a sermon as if it is one long story. While these skills can be learned elsewhere, a few clicks on Pinterest often proves beneficial and time-efficient.

Quotes

Quotations make great illustrations. Sometimes others have explained a concept using words that are much more sticky than anything I could manufacture. I may use an exact quotation in a sermon or I may refer to one and paraphrase it. I may discover a quote that prompts a line of thinking for me which leads me to an “aha” moment. I might just include a quote in the sermon follow-up materials I distribute via YouVersion.

Pinterest is a wonderland of quotations. Simply type in a topic or concept and begin scrolling. You will quickly discover many visual quotes and the more you click, the further down the rabbit hole you’ll go. Pinterest remembers your searches and your clicks, so the more you use the site, the better it will know you and it will sort your search results more efficiently. (You can see some of the quotes I’ve saved over the past few months here.)

Lists of Words

bf33e991ff6fa69bb22755396204e01cIn a 30 minute sermon, I’ll use anywhere between 3500-5000 words. I want these words to be chosen wisely and to effectively communicate my message. I don’t want my words to be a distraction because they are repetitive, imprecise or misused. In addition to avoiding “um” and “ah” (I’m still working on this one), I hate when I say “things” because I’ve demonstrated I wasn’t quite ready to communicate an important truth.

Pinterest is crawling with word charts. If you want to avoid saying “thing”, you can find 200 better words to use.  Do you want to communicate badness but want a better word than “bad”? Abhorrent, abominable and appalling are just 3 of the 100 words you can discover on Pinterest. I have a Pinterest board titled, “Expanding My Arsenal of Words.” Every week, I pull up one or two lists of words I’ve clipped and read through them a couple times. By filling my mind with alternative words, I’m growing my working vocabulary. This practice spills over into my preaching and empowers me to be more precise and concise.

Pinterest can feel like a non-preacherly site to visit. It may not work for you. However, if you give it a shot, you may discover a new source of material which will aid your sermon preparation process.

I imagine others use Pinterest as a piece of their sermon preparation process as well. If that’s you, I’d love to hear how you are benefiting from this site

Is Eraser Day The Most Important Day of Sermon Preparation?

For four weeks, I compile as much information as I can. I study individual words, I brainstorm, I read commentaries, I create outlines, I dig around for quotes and stories. By the time I’m done, I have a thick stack of pages with charts, lists, drawings and web-clippings.

After a month of collecting, on Thursday, I start cutting.

By Thursday morning, I’ve narrowed my sermon down to four key movements and one main point. Anything that doesn’t fit into those movements or support that point gets erased. By the end of Thursday, I’ve erased enough to have a sermon that can be preached in less than 30 minutes and will hopefully equip people to take 1-3 next steps on their spiritual journey.

Someday I hope to write more about this process, but for now, it’s back to the eraser.