The Myth of How to Save A Shrinking Church

The Myth of How to Save A Shrinking Church

“The Mainline Church is dying. Therefore, Preachers, you must do ______ to fix the problem.”

Depending on the article or workshop, the blank is to be filled with everything from firing up the congregation for programs to creating liturgies with relevance to preaching biblical literacy.

These stories suggest that “it” is simply waiting for each of us to imitate or discover. If only we find “it,” the congregation will revive. It’s up to us to keep looking for “it,” and if the church doors close in the meantime, we are responsible for not finding “it” in time.

Of course, pray a lot and rely on the Holy Spirit. 

But in truth, most messages imply it’s really up to us   

Wow. That’s a lot of responsibility. But is it truly ours? What exactly, is our responsibility here?

Thinking About Creating a Sermon Series? This Book Will Save You Time and Effort

Thinking About Creating a Sermon Series? This Book Will Save You Time and Effort

True confession.

I've never preached a sermon series. Not that I'm opposed; sermon series are great. My reluctance about sermon series has always been of the it's-not-you-it's-me variety.

WHY I'VE NEVER PREACHED A SERIES:

  1. I could never figure out how to get organized to plan ahead several weeks in advance
  2. I couldn't understand how to maintain the continuity of a series when something unexpected occurred (e.g., a national event) that must be addressed in the next sermon
  3. I couldn't understand how not to feel "boxed in" by a series, unable to adjust course as needed.

Whether you're new to creating a series or an old hand at it, A Preacher's Guide to Lectionary Sermon Series: Thematic Plans for Years A, B, and C * addresses these concerns, offering a thematic roadmap preachers can follow with little effort.

A Surprising Lesson from Nadia Bolz-Weber about Vulnerability in the Pulpit

A Surprising Lesson from Nadia Bolz-Weber about Vulnerability in the Pulpit

"Preaching to preachers has to be about the most delicious thing I can think of."

That's roughly how Nadia began her sermon to 1700 preachers, some of whom are the brightest luminaries of our vocation.

That one word stopped me short: "Delicious?!"

If you or I were preaching to 1700 preachers, would we use the same adjective, "delicious"? A word that connotes a feast, an indulgent treat, a delightful experience to be savored?

Or would we be more likely to choose an adjective somewhere between nerve-wracking and paralyzing?

Or is that just me?

Imagine, though.

What would make preaching to so many colleagues "delicious"?

How to Preach Without Notes & Nail It

How to Preach Without Notes & Nail It

It took me ten years in the pulpit before I tried preaching without a manuscript. 

I wish I'd known then what I know now because I wouldn't have been nearly so anxious.

Why was I anxious? Bad assumptions:

  • I thought I still had to have the sermon fully written ahead of time.
  • I thought I had to have the entire manuscript memorized. Since memorization has always been hard for me, I was terrified of forgetting carefully crafted words and phrases.
  • I didn't realize that as long as I had a map and knew where I was headed, I was ready to bring others along for the ride.

It turns out my assumptions were wrong. Preaching without notes was much simpler than I had realized.

Summer Preaching Reboot: How to take the stess, Tedium, & Procrastination out of your Preaching life

Summer Preaching Reboot: How to take the stess, Tedium, & Procrastination out of your Preaching life

What if you knew you'd find new insights in the Scripture, even on your hundredth reading?

What if you knew what needed to be done each day to ensure your sermon was written by Friday?

What if you had a process and schedule you could count on every week to take the stress, tedium, and procrastination out of your sermon prep?

What if sermon prep became a joy—even a respite—rather than a weight hanging over your head all week?