what are you preaching?

I’ve written before about the annual Christian Standard contributing editors’ meeting, my favorite meeting of the year. The caliber of the people in the room and our years-long work together make this one of the few gatherings where “favorite meeting” isn’t an oxymoron. Each year I leave encouraged and challenged by these folks, with new ideas to ponder and more books to read.

On Friday, during our discussion of needs among church leaders, Ben said one consistent question any time ministers get together is “What are …


preach it! (how?)

Lots of comments on the last post, with an overwhelming majority agreeing they would prefer more sermons working through entire books of the Bible instead of focusing on topics.

Concern for the integrity of the text was a major factor.

“Expository preaching…feeds everyone much like they must have been fed when these letters were read to the New Testament churches,“ wrote Victor. “It also forces preachers to preach the ‘whole counsel of God.’”

“How do we know if a topical treatment is accurate unless we know it’s backed up by a thorough survey of the Bible?” wrote Al.

And Randy writes, “Topical …


hot topics

I prefer to study an entire book of the Bible instead of topics.

However, judging from most church web sites, I’m in the minority. Most churches do series after series—sometimes on practical issues (finances, marriage), sometimes more theological ones (the names of God, Jesus’ parables).

I agree it can be important to study topics occasionally, especially if they address real issues going on in the life of the church or the larger culture. (A study of the biblical qualifications and expectations for elders enriched my own church’s elder-selection process last summer.)

But I wish …


I’m sitting in a hotel lobby in Kansas City reading the online version of this year’s NACC program book and looking forward to the convention’s kickoff tomorrow. Interestingly, I had already decided to write about the use of literature in preaching when my eye fell on the program’s list of the top ten books leaders are reading right now. One is the new Harry Potter novel, and another is War and Peace

I’m not sure how the NACC compiled its list,  but I wish I could copy and paste it into the syllabus of every English 101 course at our Bible colleges. Many students at these schools—especially freshmen males—believe …


When I moved to California and began looking for a church, I had three criteria: a) sound doctrine, b) authentic worship (regardless of “style”), and c) a service in which I didn’t look at my watch during the sermon.

I found a wonderful church with a great senior minister. He preaches each week with energy and power and somehow connects with non-, new-, and mature believers all at the same time. He’s funny and creative and also actually a good guy.

So this post is not targeted at my current church or any church in particular; it’s just to comment on that fact that—despite everything I wrote above—most Sundays I fight the …


My ideal worship service

In my family we like to remind each other, “It’s not all about you.” That’s especially true in the area of worship preferences. Today five very different generations are trying to worship together as one church body, but even if we all enjoyed the same music at the same volume, it would not be about us—“praise and worship” on Sunday mornings and the lifestyle worship of every other moment are always about God.

Having said that, I still occasionally think how different the weekly gatherings would be if I were in charge…..

• The preacher would speak no more than 10-15 minutes at one time. He may deliver a 40-minute sermon (preferably …