The High EQ Preacher (part 6): Do you look friendly?

Please tell me that’s not your preaching face!

I can easily forget to smile when I first address the faith-family. Some of it is due to trying to remember all I’m supposed to say at the beginning. Some of it is due to my serious side and the seriousness of the task at hand on Sunday mornings. But none of that helps accomplish the goal of enjoying a vibrant relationship with a healthy church.

This is the final post summarizing some of the more relevant information gleaned from reading, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 (Bradberry and Greaves, TalentSmart, 2009). EQ is thought to be the most important indicator of leadership success. And you know that pastoring, preaching, and leading are intertwined, right? And a big part of  a healthy EQ has to do with the kinds of relationships we build with others.

So, when these authors tell us to “smile and laugh more” (p. 114), I had to stop myself and ask whether this was really that important.

The answer is, “Yes.”

Take Chuck Swindoll for an example. I first learned about the importance of smiling and laughing through my limited interaction with him during my years at DTS. His smile and laughing were infectious. And it did not detract from his preaching; it enhanced it because it was genuine Swindoll.

Ask yourself whether your smile and laughter is indicative of who you are as a Christian minister who has the benefit of the joy of the Lord as their strength.

And one final instructional nugget from EQ: “Greet People by Name” (p. 139).

I’m taking that one step further and asking you to consider addressing some of your listeners by name during the sermon. It’s the result of having built a strong relationship with them and realizing that the sermon is the time to address them about them from the Bible.

When you speak their name, watch the level of interaction increase. Often a smile will come to their face (if, as above, you’re smiling at them when you say their name!).

Before Sunday, let’s continue to be high EQ preachers who build strong relationships with God’s people so He receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).

Randal

P.S. If you have not read anything about EQ, this book is a good place to start. It’s an easy, quick read. You will find much that pertains to your church ministry, including food for thought on how to assess the effectiveness, or lack of, of your leadership.

How To Get Excited About Every Sermon

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Spoiler alert: I wish I knew the secret of getting excited about every sermon.

I felt the need to say that because the title of this post borders on click bait (a new phrase I learned earlier today).

I completed Richard Cox’s book, Rewiring your Preaching: How the Brain Processes Sermons.

Some highlights of the book might follow later, but for now here’s a question he asks at the end in: Checklist for Sermon Preparation.

Does this sermon excite me…?

An interesting place to start.

For years I’ve said that great expository sermons require great Texts, but not all pastors and parishioners consider every Text a great Text. It’s one of the tough realities of preaching through books of the Bible.

So, what can we do to “get excited” about our Preaching Portion for Sunday, especially if it doesn’t grab us right from the first read? Here are some thoughts:

  • Remember that the corporate nature of our Sunday gatherings means that virtually every sermon sounds more exciting to some than all. I can get excited about the fact that someone will be excited about this Text. Or, you might prefer it worded this way: I can get excited about the fact that God will speak to someone from this Text.
  • Give the Holy Spirit an opportunity to excite you from this Text. Ask God to speak to you in the study before you speak to them in the service. We should be doing this every week anyway, right?
  • Place the sermon in the larger context of the worship service. Worshiping God should excite us (exclamation point). I’m guilty of forgetting that all kinds of worship is taking place before I get up to teach the Word. Sunday morning is an exciting time for our faith-family.

Before Sunday, ask if the sermon you are developing excites you so that God receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).

Randal

Do Your Congregants See Your Preaching Improving?

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Last week I had the privilege of spending a day with pastors of the Great Lakes Region of Evangelical Congregational churches in Youngstown, Ohio. My assignment was to help us all become more effective expositors of God’s Word. During one segment, we were all challenged by the instruction in 1 Timothy 4:14-16, especially the piling on of terms telling us we needed to work hard at getting better. The ESV reads: “Do not neglect…. Practice these things, devote yourself to them….Keep a close watch on….Persist in this…”

At one point I asked the pastors how they practice their craft. As you might imagine, none of us had much to say. Most of us are too busy ministering to spend time practicing. How does a pastor practice their hermeneutics and homiletics? It’s an appropriate question to ask in light of 1 Timothy 4:14-16.

And, then, the strangest thing is Paul’s reason for telling Timothy this. God says in verse 15: “Practice these things…so that all may see your progress.” That still seems odd to me. It’s not just that we practice these things so that we get better. No, God says it’s important that everyone in the faith-family sees our progress.

So, beyond studying for sermons and Bible lessons, what are you doing to regularly practice your hermeneutics and homiletics? Are you reading to gain competency (theologically rich books, journal articles, and blogs)? Are you engaged in informal or formal classroom instruction? How about seminars or workshops? As is true with so many disciplines, engaging in the process is more important than selecting the “right” resources.

May God help us progress for the sake of His reputation in the Church and in the world.

“his interests are divided”: The Wonderful Life of This Married Pastor

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1 Corinthians 7:32-34a read, “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided…”

On Valentine’s Day I wanted to remind myself of this fascinating perspective on the life of the married pastor. Too often I think and act like an unmarried man. I’m too focused on shepherding, teaching, and writing (not to mention my beloved hobbies). Yet, God’s Word tells me my interests are divided. God doesn’t give me a percentage (x percent on our Lord and x percent on our wife), only that my attention is split in two. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Although I’ve often displayed an unbiblical, undivided interest in the Lord’s work (notice, I didn’t say “in the Lord” because proper attention on the Lord would create the balance Paul describes), I have tried to let my faith-family know how important my wife is to me. Over the  years, during a sermon I have often given my wife credit for good insights into God’s Word. I want them to know how special she is.

Today is a good day for me to relish in my wonderful married life. Michele and I have been married for 26 years. She is the most Spirit-sensitive person I know. She continues to pursue her Lord passionately and it shows in the way she loves me and our adult children. Apart from Christ, God’s greatest gift to me is Michele and the opportunity I have to devote my attention to her.

If you are married, I hope you feel the same way I do.

A Preacher’s Manifesto: Ten Commitments That Drive Biblical Preaching

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Last week I published my first book. It’s a mini e-book called: A Preacher’s Manifesto: Ten Commitments That Drive Biblical Preaching. I enjoyed distilling my beliefs and practices into this format. Here’s a description of the book:

A Preacher’s Manifesto presents ten commitments that should drive biblical preaching. These ten commitments will guide pastors in creating their preaching calendar, help steer their sermon preparation, and remind them of the vital place preaching occupies in the local church. The commitments include topics ranging from pastoral theology (“preaching as a function of soul-watching”), hermeneutics (“not allow a selected topic to override the meaning of the biblical Text”), and pastoral ministry (“preach as though my spiritual life and the spiritual lives of my parishioners depend on it”). A Preacher’s Manifesto will challenge assumptions, cultivate new commitments, and bring about changes in preaching for the sake of enlarging God’s reputation in the Church.

If you’re interested, you can find the book at Amazon.com and Smashwords.com. Smashwords will give you several more reading options, including a PDF of the book. It will also allow you to download a percentage of the book to preview some content.

I hope the ole saying, You get what you pay for, is not true in this case. The book is $2.99, but I believe it will stimulate your thinking.

Again, thank you for thinking about preaching with me.

Preach well for the sake of God’s reputation in the Church.

Loving Those Who Don’t Listen

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If you’ve preached in church for a while and watched your listeners, you’ve probably noticed that some don’t listen. I realize some may be faking it; they may actually be listening even though they look like they’ve checked out. However, it is a reality of pastoral preaching that some parishioners don’t listen. Some do not hear God’s Word, don’t receive God’s Word, and are not changed by it. It’s very easy to get upset with them.

In Luke 9:54, Jesus’ disciples, James and John (a.k.a., sons of thunder!) ask Him, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” What a way to react to those who don’t listen! Yikes! Jesus’ abridged answer: “But he turned and rebuked them” (v. 55). That’s it. Ryken says, “it was still time for mercy.”

What were they thinking? Well, they were protecting Jesus; their Lord was being insulted. They were extremely zealous for God and for souls (OK, at least they were extremely zealous for God). It’s easy for us pastors to harbor ill-will towards those who don’t listen. It’s extremely difficult for us to shepherd people we wished weren’t there! However, Jesus made it very clear that His disciples’ plan of attack was inappropriate. Later on in Luke 23:34 we read our Lord saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” May our Lord extend grace to help us love those who don’t listen.

Isaiah 56:9-12 Theology through Negative Example

Isaiah 56:9-12 presents a stern warning for church leaders. Theology is presented through the extremely negative example of Israel’s spiritual leaders. Unlike the feast of Isaiah 55:1, the feast of Isaiah 56:9 is one we want to avoid at all cost! We do not want to to be the main course at that feast. One way to avoid that is to follow our Lord’s example and instruction in places such as 1 Peter 5:1-4. Our Lord lived out the opposite of Israel’s shepherds and faith in Him gives us the desire and capacity to shepherd like Him. God help us to do so!