Preparing My Soul to Preach

Discouragement. That feeling you get immediately after delivering a sermon you spent all week preparing. If it’s not there Sunday afternoon, just wait. It’ll be waiting for you on Monday morning. So how does a pastor prevent the discouragement that too often follows him on his descent from the pulpit? I believe it is through better preparation. I don’t mean that we should spend more time preparing our sermons, though that may be the case. I mean we need to spend time preparing ourselves. I’ve found that preparing my soul to preach can stave off discouragement in several ways. Below are a couple steps I take to ensure my soul is ready to preach Sunday’s sermon. Remind myself of the Gospel I d

How Leadership and Expository Preaching Go Hand in Hand

God’s Word has always played a crucial role in transforming his people to active obedience in fulfilling their mission. Christopher Wright asserts, “The whole Bible renders to us the story of God’s mission through God’s people in their engagement with God’s world for the sake of the whole of God’s creation.”[1] In contemporary evangelicalism, many leaders have turned to man-centered pragmatism and secular business principles to grow their churches, instead of relying on the sufficiency of the Scriptures to dictate and establish the mission of the church. The church exists to display God’s glory, declare God’s gospel, and disciple for God’s Great Commission. Is there a definitive stream in

To An Aspiring Church Revitalizer...

Deep in the work of revitalization, I received a message from a seminary student interning at the same church where I did my internship and residency. He said that he was interested in revitalization and wanted to know my thoughts. It was very encouraging to see some other young guys getting a vision for revitalization. Here is (an edited version of) what I told him: 1. You already see it like a journey and that's clutch. If you feel called to be a pastor and pastors and other leaders affirm that, then be content to take journey God has for you get there. I think of where I was at emotionally/spiritually along my 6 year journey and God's timing really is perfect. It's almost like he knows ev

The Joys of Pastoring A Multi-Generational Church

Hi. My name is Matthew Perry, and I pastor a semi-traditional, multigenerational Baptist church. Before you say, “This sounds like an AA meeting—are you lamenting your situation?” Far from it. When I interviewed at my current church back in October 2011, one of the questions that was asked me in various ways was basically this: “What do you think of pastoring a church with a good amount of senior adults in it?” My response surprised them: “Senior adults need pastors, too!” And what a tremendous blessing they’ve been to this pastor and this church. You see, I have a number of colleagues who look at my semi-traditional (translate: you still sing hymns with a piano and organ?), multigener

The Importance of Intimacy with Christ in Ministry

I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. - Revelation 2:3-4 The preacher opened his bible as he did every morning. As he read, two Old Testament chapters and two New Testament chapters, he jotted down notes. He turned to Revelation 2. The preacher had read the passage hundreds of times before and was scanning more than reading when suddenly his eyes were arrested. have abandoned the love you had at first. You have abandoned the love… Love His eyes moved to his notepad and he read what he had written that morning. Flipping back through reading note

Why is Theological Education in the Church Important?

Why is Theological Education in the Church Important? I should begin by writing that my answer, though hopefully thoughtful and encouraging, would be best answered by men such as J. T. English at The Village Church or Lance Kramer at The Bethlehem Institute. These men are trailblazers, setting the pace and charting a course for the church. Calvary Church Englewood, the church I call home, is in the early stages of creating and sustaining an institute where Christians can grow in their knowledge of Scripture and theology. The importance of theological education in the church has to be more than a desire for theological knowledge, doesn’t it? We desire to know God, be known by him, know others

Leading Worship Like A Pastor

We live in a culture that idolizes musical talent. Maybe the most obvious example is American Idol — a show dedicated to discovering and then promoting musical talent. The name says it all, doesn't it? There isn’t anything inherently wrong with enjoying and celebrating musical talent — in fact, the Lord approves of it (i.e. 1 Chronicles 25:6-7). But in a culture obsessed with pop stars, there is a danger that can easily creep into the church: prizing musical skill and charisma over Biblical, pastoral leadership. Don’t get me wrong — musical skill is a necessary ingredient to a great worship leader. The Bible is full of references to skilled musicianship (i.e. Psalm 33:3, 1 Chronicles 15:22,

How Do You Measure Success In Ministry?

After living in the church planting world now for 10 years, I have learned how easy it becomes to allow our affections for success to get the better of us. It starts with a vision that our particular city and neighborhoods need Jesus, but our vision for gospel saturation begins to require some form of success to measure the worth of our programs and methods. The problem isn’t that we establish a metric for value or success, but that our human tendency is to value numbers, conversions, and events over what the Scripture lays out as true verifiable fruit. The Apostle Paul called the Galatian churches to consider “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and

The Sufficiency of God’s Word for Life and Ministry

Many of us are drowning in a culture saturated by information and opportunities. Highly prized in our consumeristic world are control, integration, utmost personalization and developing consumer dependency. What we lack in this age of ultimate, immediate access is time, and the ability to readily discern on the spectrum of good, better and best. We also often lack the ability to distinguish between truth and well-articulated frauds. Knowledge is a click away but wisdom remains evasive. Unlimited options available to us, each well positioned to capture our attention and feed our common desires. It is nearly impossible to be content as the entire world chants, “better, faster, more” to c

Shepherd Pastors Feed the Sheep

Visionary shepherds are to feed the flock. Sheep rely on the shepherd for healthy food. Jesus speaks with Peter in John 21:15, “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’” Shepherds must understand that sheep cannot find pastures on their own. Sheep have a very difficult time discerning the difference between healthy food and poisonous weeds. Therefore, sheep need a shepherd to help them find healthy food to nourish them. In this way, God’s people need visionary shepherds who will teach them rightly, feeding them and helping them find no

The One Thing Above All Else For Ministry

I was sitting in a meeting at Calvary Baptist Church years ago with a room full of seminary students aspiring to pastoral ministry. Dr. James Means who had an incredibly powerful ministry in both serving as a pastor and professor had come to speak with us all about his deepest lessons on life and ministry. I remember asking him what was the most important thing to remain in ministry and thrive for the long haul. I wanted to know from a man who had run the race well what it was going to take (2 Tim. 4:7). Maybe because I am an information and theology nerd, I was eager to hear all the skills and competencies I needed to continue to develop in order to be a Pastor for the long haul. Yet, what

3 Ministry Leadership Axioms

3 Ministry Leadership Axioms: Apathy in your leadership leads to atrophy in your leadership. Atrophy in your leadership leads to atrophy in your ministry. Atrophy in your ministry leads to apathy in your church. A few questions to honestly reflect on: 1. Where is there apathy in your leadership right now? 2. Where is there atrophy present in your ministry? 3. Where is there apathy in your church?

The Cost and the Joy of Church Revitalization: 3 Lessons Learned

My first word to those feeling called to church revitalization is you need to really feel called to it. It needs to be a burning passion for you because It is not easy. I recall the words of Charles Spurgeon who in reference to Pastoral ministry said, “If you can do anything else, then do it!” I think this is even more true for those feeling called to lead a church through the hard process of revitalization. While it hasn’t been easy for me, it has also been a great season of learning and growth. I have never learned so much as I have in the last 3 years of working with this church that God loves. An older wiser Pastor once told me that my job was to prepare the Bride for Christ’s return.

Lessons Learned from Following a Long-Haul Pastor

In 2013, I made the transition from youth pastor to senior pastor in the same church where I’d served in youth ministry for six years. The senior pastor before me, my former boss, served for 27 years. The past few years have been quite a ride, to say the least. Here are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned and am still learning: 1) Take the posture of a humble learner. It’s amazing how much this one principle will help you and save you from additional grief. Learn the history of the church. Learn the history of specific traditions at the church. Learn about major conflicts that have happened in the past 30 years at the church that have shaped it. Learn about the different ways that

Growing Into A Church Plant

About a month ago my coach asked me a couple of questions that have turned out to be the most helpful questions I have heard in our four years of church planting. While I was describing a new leadership development program I was hoping to implement he thoughtfully asked, “What is this program going to look like a year from now?” After listening to me stumble through some false bravado regarding the forthcoming success of this program he encouraged me to pause and ask, “What would it look like to grow into this and not just go into this?” The imagery of a growing plant is perhaps the most common symbol associated with church planting. The stock photos of a fresh sprout shooting through the

Is Our Church In Danger?: 10 Signs That Your Church May Be In Trouble

I received a phone call from a Pastor who asked; “Is there a way to tell if our Church is in trouble and in danger of closing?” Diagnosing the health of a church can be tricky. It’s easy to look at the usual markers used to determine the status or condition of a local body of believers. Attendance: how many people attend a worship gathering Budget: counting the contributions Children: the number of young families attending and bringing their kids Ministry: programs and offerings to the community and the congregation While these indicators are of some use--they may not tell the whole story. The Church in Sardis received a strong rebuke--they looked alive but were actually not. “‘I

Monica’s Story OR The Gospel, Globalization, and the Panama Canal

I don’t believe what happened today. It was a simple, small church baptism. I’ve been involved in small church ministry all of my adult life and have been lucky enough to serve in pastoral roles in two small churches. But today the entire world collided in a grand act of God’s grace, global commerce, and small church chaos. I’m not sure where to begin, so I’ll jump right in. I currently serve a small 120-year-old congregation in a large aging building in Brooklyn, New York. The church is not unusual for the area of Brooklyn it is in. It struggles to keep the lights on and houses several non-English worship services to address the pockets of recent expatriates from China, Egypt, Mexico, D

My First Five Years In Ministry

Today July 1st, 2016 marks my 5th year of being a pastor at The Bridge Church. This is significant due to the reality that statistics show only around 50% of pastors make it out of their first five years. It has been a wild, fun, up and down, crazy journey the last five years. I am a very reflective person. I enjoy looking back and thinking about what the Lord has done, what He has taught me, how I have grown, etc. For me, being reflective leads to gratefulness and joy in the Lord. So, here are some things that stand out to me as I reflect on my first five years in the ministry: There is a huge difference in my life and ministry when I am primarily pursuing Christ. It can be easy as a pastor

Jerry Bridges' 7 Lessons For Life and Ministry

In his excellent memoir, God Took Me by the Hand: A Story of God’s Unusual Providence, Jerry Bridges lays out seven big lessons he learned over the course of his sixty-plus years of being a Christian. Few men have had the impact on my spiritual life that Jerry Bridges has had. Much Godly wisdom in these seven brief lessons: Lesson One: The Bible is meant to be applied to specific life situations. This includes both God’s commands to be obeyed and His promises to be relied upon. Here, of course, is where Scripture memorization is so valuable. The Holy Spirit can bring to our minds specific Scriptures to apply to specific situations. Lesson Two: All who trust in Christ as Savior are united to

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