Sunday, 23 November 2008

Preaching Feedback Form

Preaching Feedback: Did I preach a sermon that people will never forget?

1. The Importance of a Single Idea

· Was an unforgettable title used?
· Did the title communicate a single idea and did this shine through the whole sermon?
· Did the chosen text/passage fit with the intention of the single idea that was preached? Was the text relevant to the subject?

2. The Intended Meaning of the Text

· Was the wider context of the passage and its setting in relation to redemptive history made clear?
· Was the context of the passage given in relation to the rest of the book that it came from? Did the preacher understand the literary style of the book? Was the historical context and purpose of the book explained?
· Were other parts of Scripture understood in relation to the passage used (analogy of faith)?

3. A Clear Sermon Structure

· Was a natural and unforced structure used? Did it flow from the chosen text?
· How many points were used?
· Were clear headings used for each point? Did they harmonise with the title? Did you remember the points used?

4. Doctrines, Illustrations and Application

· Were doctrines correctly labelled and explained?
· Were easily understood and relevant, Biblical or contemporary Illustrations made for each point?
· Did the applications that were used for each point communicate a non-fuzzy way for putting the truths into action in real life?

5. Sermon Delivery: Connecting with your Audience

· Was your speech and delivery clear?
· Were your explanations simple? Could a ten year old child understand your sermon?
· Did you connect with your audience all the way through the sermon?

Thank you: Kevin Bidwell

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Why Does'nt God Sort out the Mess that the World is in?

“Why doesn't God do something about the mess the world is in?”

Point One: Personal testimony of my Granddad dying of cancer and praying with seeming no answer.
· A good question? Philiosophical. Four views of the world for a student, however it is quite subjective.

Point Two: Different views as to whether the ‘world is in a mess’.

A. Could not care less: Hedonism (Hedonism is the philosophy that pleasure is of ultimate importance, the most important pursuit. The name derives from the Greek word for "delight" (ἡδονισμός hēdonismos from ἡδονή hēdonē "pleasure",
B. The world is getting better: Political optimism, evolutionary development
· The 20th century began with great optimism, expecting world peace and prosperity. They claimed regarding the Titanic ‘Even God cannot sink this ship”.

C. The World is getting worse: environment, wars, greed, famine
The twentieth century and two world wars teach that the world seems to roll from one mess to the next with a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality. She’ll be right unless the problems affect me personally.

WW1:1914-1918 with over 11million casualties
WW2: 1939-1945 with over 58 million casualties (Russia 25+ million, China 11+ million, Germany 7+ million, Poland 6+ million).
Idi Amin: Ugandan Military dictator 1971-79, his rule was characterized by human rights abuses, political repression, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial killings and the expulsion of Asians from Uganda. The number of people killed as a result of his regime is unknown: estimates from human rights groups range from 100,000 to 500,000.

The Killing Fields in Cambodia: The Kamher Rouge regime executed 200, 000 but as a result of their causing famine and disease 1.4-2.2 million died out of a population of about only 7 million.

Aids: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome where in 2007 AIDS is now a pandemic with 33+ million infected worldwide and killed about 2.1 million people of which 330k+ were children.

The Credit Crisis, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia….

George Santayana:
“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.

George Bernard Shaw:
We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.

D. The world has a problem called Sin and God is the answer.

True Christians should be sober as a result of their view of sin and the sinfulness of mankind.

Point 3: Sin explains the mess the world is in.

What is Sin? Romans 3: 13-15 (Not living for the glory of the Triune God)

Where did sin come from?

How does God view sin?

A new question: Why is the world not in more of a mess?

Point 4: Why Doesn’t God do something about the mess the world is in?
Answer: He has! These are historical facts and even ordinary shepherds saw him.

2000 years ago in Bethlehem

Luke 2:8 ¶ And in the same region there were [some] shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
10 And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people;
11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Sinless life

Pilate watched over the case and trial of Jesus and declared "I find no guilt in Him”.

Death, burial and resurrection

1Co 15:1 ¶ Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,
2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;
7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;
8 and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

Personal Testimony at the University of Birmingham

Corrie Ten Boom: Illustration of the rug to explain the prisoner of war camp.

What is our response?

Mark 1:15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Preaching Sermons People Do Not Forget!

Preaching Seminar: Preaching sermons that people do not forget!

One of the highest compliments is when people come to you and say, “I will never forget that sermon that you preached on…” However all the glory must go to God because this can only happen by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is vital in an age of information overload!

Why some preaching is boring and irrelevant, and some dynamic and exciting?
Why do some preachers connect with their audience while others do not?
How can we avoid preaching forgettable sermons?

Stuart Olyott; ‘Our Lord was a preacher, our Lord was an evangelistic preacher, our Lord was more than a preacher’.
Phillips Brooks; ‘Preaching is truth through personality’.

Five stages involved in preaching unforgettable sermons
1. The Importance of a Single Idea
2. The Intended Meaning of the Text
3. A Clear Sermon Structure
4. Doctrines, Illustrations and Applications
5. Sermon Delivery: Connecting with your Audience

· These communication skills can be used in many areas of life but our primary focus is preaching
· A Preaching definition: A public proclamation of the intended meaning of a specific Bible passage or text in a way that the audience understands.
· Example of Stuart Olyott’s genius for explanation: How would you explain this to a child?
· Other aspects not considered like the godly character of the messenger, training at seminary, different gospel ministries.
Our Lord was a Preacher
Mark 1:14 ¶ And after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

1:35 And in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there.
36 And Simon and his companions hunted for Him;
37 and they found Him, and *said to Him, "Everyone is looking for You."
38 And He *said to them, "Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, in order that I may preach there also; for that is what I came out for."
39 And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.

3:14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

1. The Importance of a Single Idea
Many forms of communication have recognised the significance of the use of a ‘single idea’ in communication.
Aim for a single idea in preaching.
How do we develop a single idea? Through praying and preparation we think ‘What do we believe God wants to speak to a certain group of people? This can come through a specific Bible passage or a specific theme that you then search the Bible to find an appropriate passage. For example missions.
· Develop a title that communicates that single idea
· Often take your title from the Bible passage you will be using
· Develop your structure around that single idea.
Here are some examples of sermons I preached on the Doulos to capture the use of a single idea:
· Romans 8: 12-13, The Indwelling of Sin and the Holy Spirit in the Life of Every Christian (Pentecost sermon)
· Luke11:22-31,Ravens and Lilies (Theme was not worrying about the future)
· John 10:27-30,The Sheep of His Hand, Christians cannot perish and lose their salvation
Consider some Bible passages and write down what is the main theme and what title you would give a sermon from that passage
· 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
· Revelation 1:12-20
· Genesis 12:1-9
Explain the importance of a good title, one that communicates a single idea and also frames your sermon content.
2. The Intended Meaning of the Text
There are two words that need defining to help us understand our aim when preparing a sermon to be preached.
Firstly a sermon must always be taken out of the Bible by the reading of a passage and explaining what this passage means; this is called expository preaching. We must preach out of the Bible and not about the Bible in a loose way.
Secondly we must aim for exegesis and avoid eisegesis. What is the difference between the two?
Eisegesis= reading into a Bible text what is not there. For example, the use of mystical ideas, allegorical ideas etc.
Exegesis= determining the intended meaning of a text.
Here are three principles that can help us to accurately understand a passage:
· The wider context of the passage and its setting in relation to redemptive history. Give the illustration of a tulip flower to explain redemptive history.
· The context of the passage in relation to the rest of the book that it comes from. What is the literary style of the book? What was the historical context and purpose of the book?
· What understanding do other parts of Scripture shed on this passage (analogy of faith)?
The aim is to discover what a passage is actually saying.
Consider three passages and try to determine what these passages are normally explained to be saying? Determine what you think they are actually saying?
· The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)
· Hebrews 6:4-6
· The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46)

3. A Clear Sermon Structure

· A natural and unforced structure that flows from the chosen text (like unwrapping an orange, the segments cleave naturally)
· Three or four points (like a three legged stool or chair)
· Clear headings for each point (they summarise the main point)
Here are some exercises from the book of Ephesians; determine a clear sermon structure from these three passages with a clear sermon title and three headings.
· Ephesians 1: 3-14.
· Ephesians 2:1-10.
· Ephesians 5:21-6:4.

4. Doctrines, Illustrations and Applications
Now we move from the example of the human body with the skeleton in place to putting flesh on the bone. The substance of the sermon to be preached needs to include doctrines, illustrations and applications.
In the New Testament letters, especially the epistles doctrine always comes before application. For example in Ephesians Paul discusses gospel doctrine for about the first three chapters but then deals with applying this in the daily lives of first century Christians for the next three chapters. This is a good pattern for our sermons to follow.
John Owen (From page 93 of JI Packer’s Among God’s Giants)
“It would be an uncouth sermon that should be without doctrine and use”

Illustrations abound in the NT, especially in the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. For example read Matthew chapter 5-7 and the Sermon on the Mount and note how many illustrations he uses with following applications. Make a list of the illustrations used and then make a list of contemporary items that could be used for sermons in the 21st Century.

· Doctrines correctly labelled and explained (like coat hangers)
· Biblical or contemporary Illustrations for each point
· Applications for each point that are non-fuzzy

Now go through the three Ephesian passages again and for the three headings you have used, identify the doctrines, illustrations and applications you could use. Discuss these in small groups.
5. Sermon Delivery: Connecting with your Audience
Well prepared sermons are greatly needed, especially ones that have been bathed in prayer. However a sermon only truly becomes a sermon when it is preached and Martyn Lloyd Jones often said that there are three people involved in the delivery of a sermon.
A. The Preacher
B. The attentively listening congregation
C. The Holy Spirit.
We must always pray for the help and power of the Holy Spirit, without which sermons will be lifeless and will not bear long term fruit.
Once I asked a man who had been training up preachers for decades to give me feedback on a sermon he heard me preach and he gave me a lesson to remember for a lifetime. He said that sometimes “I was more concerned in getting the sermon out that I had prepared than in getting the sermon across. Also that sometimes I connected with the congregation very well and other times I did not”. He explained that our aim must not be to simply give out what we have prepared but to ask ‘Am I connecting with my audience all the way through the sermon?’This is a valuable lesson for all of us.
Here are three questions to ask yourself before, during and after each sermon. Also do not be afraid to ask congregation members for feedback.

· Was your speech and delivery clear?
· Were your explanations simple? Could a ten year old child understand your sermon?
· Did you connect with your audience all the way through the sermon?
These three questions answered and applied honestly could transform most preachers and their preaching!
How do we close a meeting?
A song full of relevant Bible content related to the message and then a benediction taken from the NT. There are many but 2 Cor. 13:14 is most suitable for most occasions.
What about altar calls and forced responses?
Are they found in the NT? There is now problem in making yourself and others available for enquirers but not to demand a public show of hands or even worse to believe those who have responded are genuinely converted. Jesus said ‘By their fruits you shall know them’ and it takes time for fruit to grow and for others to know if a profession is genuine. However we must not sow scepticism concerning people’s profession of faith because we know of a certainty by the Holy Spirit that we are saved by the blood of Jesus.
In summary, there are been five main stages identified for preaching sermons that will not be forgotten. This goal may seem unattainable for many of us, but at least it is the right goal to prayerfully aim for. These stages are:
1. The Importance of a Single Idea
2. The Intended Meaning of the Text
3. A Clear Sermon Structure
4. Doctrines, Illustrations and Application
5. Sermon Delivery: Connecting with your Audience

Exhortation from Richard Baxter; ‘We must preach as a dying man to dying men and preach as if you would never preach again’.

W.H. Griffith Thomas on preaching; ‘Think yourself empty, read yourself full, write yourself clear, pray yourself keen, then into the pulpit and let yourself go’.

A time for questions…

Book recommendations

Preaching and Preachers Lloyd Jones
Puritans JI Packer
Puritans Lloyd Jones
To read any sermons by Lloyd Jones, Spurgeon, Calvin, Whitefield or Edwards.
The Reformed Pastor by Baxter
The Art of Prophesying by Perkins
Preaching Pure and Simple by Stuart Olyott
Ministering Like the Master by Stuart Olyott