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From the Editor:

The class of 2011

Contextualized Preaching Still Rooted in Scripture

Be Careful How We Reflect Culture

Joyful Noise
Work, Time
Work, Talent

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Preacher’s Bookshelf


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“We always know Jesus is at work because He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring.”

 (Oswald Chambers)

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Preaching in a Changing Culture: An Interview With N.T. Wright

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    Vol. 6, No. 30 August 28, 2007    

Michael Duduit

It’s that time of year when parents are sending kids off to college, which means it’s time for the annual Beloit College Mindset List®. This list offers a look “at the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of today’s first-year students, most of them born in 1989.” Think about it: today’s 18-year-olds (the class of 2011) never experienced the Cold War, never knew a Russia dominated by a single Communist Party, and have never known a world without the Internet. Here are some selected items from the list:

~ What Berlin Wall?
~ They never “rolled down” a car window.
~ They have grown up with bottled water.
~ Pete Rose has never played baseball.
~ “Off the hook” has never had anything to do with a telephone.
~ Wal-Mart has always been a larger retailer than Sears and has always employed more workers than GM.
~ Being “lame” has to do with being dumb or inarticulate, not disabled.
~ Stadiums, rock tours and sporting events have always had corporate names.
~ They learned about JFK from Oliver Stone and Malcolm X from Spike Lee.
~ Tiananmen Square is a 2008 Olympics venue, not the scene of a massacre.
~ MTV has never featured music videos.
~ They get much more information from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert than from the newspaper.
~ They never saw Johnny Carson live on television.

(To read the complete list, click here)

Michael Duduit, Editor

Click here to visit “I Was Just Thinking” (Michael’s blog) for insights and observations about faith and culture issues. Recent topics: The Comeback Kids?; Where future terrorists come from

Mark your calendar now for April 7-9, 2008, to attend the 19th annual National Conference on Preaching in Washington, DC. An amazing faculty of speakers and workshop leaders will be present, including Chuck Colson, James MacDonald, William Willimon, James Emery White, Barry Black and many more. To learn more go to


In an article for the SermonCentral newsletter, missiologist Ed Stetzer points out that even as we try to contextualize our preaching for a contemporary audience, it is still essential that the message be biblically-rooted: “The Apostle Paul began where the people he was speaking to were. For the Jews, the starting point was their ancient history rooted in the Old Testament Scriptures. On the other hand, Paul connected with the Greeks at their point of relevance. Notice that he presented Christ in both cases. For us, we may start in a different place, but the context of the message needs to be Christ and the fullness of Scripture. The key is where the communication begins. Scripture sets the agenda and shape of the message, but every message must answer the question, ‘Why is this important to me/us?’ If there is no point of connection, the message is simply meaningless facts rather than life-changing truth.

When we begin at the point of relevance, it does not in any way nullify the importance of rightly dividing the Word of God. We think that a common mistake many seeker-driven churches made early on was trying to communicate relevant messages that had little or no biblical content. It seemed that the sermons were basically explanations of common-sense wisdom or perhaps biblical principals, but the Bible did not set the shape or agenda of the message.

We must always remember that ‘consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ’ (Rom. 10:17) and ‘the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart’ (Heb. 4:12). The Bible is not simply a tool for scriptural footnoting or common-sense wisdom.

One of the cultural shifts that we are experiencing is the shift from the secular to the spiritual. This shift lends itself to biblical preaching and teaching. People are looking for a higher power, a sense of mystery, revelation, and spiritual authority for their lives. Scripture was given to reveal Jesus; therefore, all of our preaching should be Christ-centered. With this in mind, we must ask, ‘How do we communicate the good news of the gospel in a way that the story of redemption is heard and experienced?’”

(Click here to read the full article)


In his book A Western Jesus (B&H Publishing), pastor Mike Minter argues that the western church has too often departed from biblical patterns because of our allegiance to western culture and traditions. In discussing the church, he observes, “The younger generation must learn why the older generation loves tradition, steeples, pews and hymnbooks. The older generation must be willing to see the younger generation as liking change. Good healthy dialogue in a teachable atmosphere can bring much fruit. Trying to prove that drums are of the devil or that hymns are boring become senseless arguments often birthed out of pride and a refusal to hear the other side. The truth often lies in the middle.

“I love the hymns because many of them tell a story that reflects what the church was dealing with in bygone years. ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’ should be carefully read and understood in light of the Reformation. The lyrics are a powerful expression of the intense warfare of the day. The younger generation should be thankful for past generations that ran interference for them. They were the giants upon which our churches stand today.

“But let us not forget that God has his giants in every generation, and the battles are different as satanic strategies change. The church will always have common-denominator struggles with a lust for the world, but it may show its face differently. Jonathan Edwards didn’t have to raise children in a day of Internet pornography, video games, amusement parks, shopping malls, cell phones, and TVs with 350 channels. Most of our praise songs reflect a battle that is different from battles fought before us. Hymns are often about God while praise songs are often to God.  ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’ if written today would be ‘You, Oh Lord, Are a Mighty Fortress.’

“There seems to be more despair in our present culture, which is why we so often read about postmodernism and the emerging church, and our bookshelves are filled with titles on anorexia, bulimia, and self-image. Such topics would have been foreign to Spurgeon, Luther and Edwards. So what does the church do? It must reflect its culture. Every culture has a story, and each generation within that culture has a story – and the transcendent Christ must be the answer no matter what the generation. The story is told in its music, worship, philosophy of ministry, and literature. If the church doesn’t know the story, then its music, preaching, and philosophy of ministry will miss the mark. It starts reading Shakespeare to four-year-olds and Little Bo Peep to sixty-year olds. The dialogue ceases and the church begins to die. Unfortunately, cultural change within the church is often interpreted as doctrinal change – a watering down of theology. This is usually not the case, though it can be. That is why careful dialogue must take place among generations. Each generation can learn from the other and listen for the story line.”

(Click here to learn more about the book A Western Jesus)


Fall 2007 will bring a great schedule of one-day preaching conferences to cities across the US, featuring two different seminars.

Our popular seminar “Preaching Truth in a Whatever World” deals with strategies for effective biblical preaching in a postmodern culture. It will be offered in the following cities:

Los Angeles (Oct 11)
New Orleans (Oct 30)
Quincy, IL (Nov 6)

This fall we are also launching a brand new seminar, “Growing a Biblical Sermon.” Developed in response to many requests, the conference will offer a solid guide to developing biblical sermons. The conference will be held in:

Philadelphia (Oct 9)
Nashville (Oct. 25)
Tampa (Oct 29)
Birmingham (Nov 1)
Columbus, Ohio (Nov 8)
Oakland, CA (Dec 10)

Each conference features Dr. Michael Duduit, editor of Preaching magazine, plus a guest speaker. Cost is $95 for the first participant from a church, and $50 for each additional person; the cost includes lunch and a notebook packed with helpful resources. For more information or to register, visit


Author Pauline Fraser relates a story that happened to her over a decade ago. She and her daughter ducked into dimly a lit thrift shop to keep dry from the rain pounding outside. The clerk smiled and said, “Hi, today is stuff-a-bag-day.”  Pauline inquired what that meant and the helpful clerk replied, “Stuff as much stuff into the bag and you can have it all for three dollars.”

Thinking that was a good deal, Pauline and her young daughter began putting “stuff” into the bag. As they wandered around there was an abrupt tug on her hand to get her attention to the shoe section of the store.  Pauline writes, “My daughter shares my weakness for shoes, so we stopped for a minute to look. I let go of her hand and she reached out to touch a pair of shiny black shoes with a strap and silver buckle.”

Her daughter asked, “Buy me?” Pauline told her daughter that they were tap shoes and she wasn’t taking tap lessons. But the daughter insisted, so Pauline finally told her to try them on.  Perfect fit!  So they bought them, and her daughter wore them out of the store with a click, click, click all the way down the street.  Continuing their shopping at another store the shoes made the same click, click, click as before, and people turned their heads as they entered the store.

As the clicking continued some shoppers gave a disapproving stare, but for Pauline it was music to her ears. One lady approached her and said, “Excuse me, dear.  Is your daughter in tap this year?” “No,” she replied. “Well, why on earth would you allow her to wear tap shoes, here, of all places, in a store? They make so much noise.”

Pauline told her how wonderful it is to hear. The lady asked, “How can it be wonderful?” Pauline replied, “Because when she was a baby, we were told she would never walk or talk. It has taken a lot of hard work and patience but she asked for the shoes and the click, click, click says that she can walk.”
Her daughter is now 18 and will graduate from high school this year. Pauline states, “It has not always been easy, but it has all been worthwhile. She has taught me that it doesn’t matter what others think. They don’t walk in your shoes.” (Derl G. Keefer, Friday Evenings newsletter)



In his Turning Point Daily Devotional for June 28, David Jeremiah wrote: Sometimes there aren’t enough minutes in a day — or days in a year — for all our work. Well, then, how would you like to have a 445-day year? It happened once. The early Romans established their calendar on a lunar model, and their year had only 355 days. In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar mandated a new solar calendar, making the year 365 days long. To bring the new calendar on track, he added two extra months to that year, sticking them between November and December, and he also squeezed three extra weeks between February and March. The result was a one-time-only year of 445 days, which became known as the “Year of Confusion.”

Sometimes every year seems like a year of confusion. But the secret to getting all your work done isn’t adding days to the year, it’s doing only what the heavenly Father has ordained for you. When Jesus ascended to heaven, there was still much work to be done, yet He said, “I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4).

Ask God for His agenda each day, and don’t let the urgent usurp the important. Make sure to finish the work He gives you day by day.

From the September-October issue of Preaching . . .

In an interview with Mark Labberton, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Berkley, CA, he talks about preaching and culture: “I think biblical faith is fundamentally, culturally embedded. God is without embarrassment culturally revealing Himself throughout the whole Bible. Clearly there is no such thing as a culture-free revelation. There is a revelation that is more than culture, but it is always embedded in culture. So I don’t think there is an option to ever be culture-free. I think we are always culture set.

So then the question is: how do we expose and attempt to get a grasp of those influences? To see how culture has already shaped every act of language and perspective and relationship and so forth, to enable our lives to actually be recast in light of the larger culture which is the kingdom of God.

In some ways you could say the kingdom of God is not the absence of culture but the re-creation of culture. Our goal as biblical people is to try to live into the greater culture of the kingdom, rather than the myopic and self-oriented nature of cultures generally. I think that is where the revelation of God meets us, first in the crisis of our own cultural patterns, and then hopefully delivers us from our culture, beyond our culture. I think that one of the great gifts of the Bible is that it meets us in culture but then it expands our vision.”

Every issue of Preaching contains insightful articles on preaching, plus great model sermons and practical resources. If you’re not a current subscriber to Preaching magazine, click here (or call, toll free, 1-800-527-5226) to go begin your subscription!

Also in the September-October issue of Preaching: Sermons by Max Lucado and Charles Stanley, a feature on “Preaching and the House Church Movement,” Michael Quicke’s continuing series on “Preaching and Trinitarian Worship,” and much more. Order your subscription today! has been a favorite site of many pastors for years, offering access to the NET Bible and other study resources. If you haven’t visited recently, you may not realize the site now also offers a collection of Bible study resources by Bill Hull and others.
You can visit the site at:


A salesman dropped in to see a business customer. Not a soul was in the office except a big dog emptying wastebaskets. The salesman stared at the animal, wondering if his imagination could be playing tricks on him. The dog looked up and said, “Don’t be alarmed. This is just part of my job.”

“This is amazing!” exclaimed the man. “Does your boss know what a prize he has in you? An animal that can talk!”

“No, no,” pleaded the dog. “Please don’t tell him! If that man finds out I can talk, he’ll make me answer the phone, too!”


Fred Smith, Sr., was a friend and mentor to countless Christian leaders, business executives, and more. He recently went to be with the Lord, but his new book Breakfast With Fred (Regal) promises to extend his influence to yet another generation of leaders. This delightful book offers brief insights by Smith on various topics, accompanied by comments from many of those he influenced (such as John Maxwell, Zig Ziglar, Steve Brown, Jill Briscoe, and Haddon Robinson).


The Talking Book (Yale Univ Press) by Allen Dwight Callahan is a fascinating exploration of the role the Bible has played in the development of the African-American community. He shows how the Bible helped shape not only religious beliefs but also culture, music, literacy, and a hunger for freedom and justice.


In 7 Habits of Highly Healthy People (Xulon), pastor Curry Pikkart counters the seven deadly sins with a discussion of seven basic, life-producing virtues: including “Practice Contentment (Defeat Envy),” “Apply the Golden Rule (Defeat Anger),” and “Aim for Simplicity (Defeat Greed).” I suspect the book emerged from a sermon series, and it offers a good idea for such a series to other pastors.

(Click on the title to learn more or order from


It was a dinner party and a young college student neighbor was seated beside Albert Einstein — but she didn’t know who he was. In the course of their conversation the student asked the white-haired scientist, “What is your profession?”

“I devote myself to the study of physics,” Einstein replied.

The girl looked at him in astonishment and said, “You still study physics at your age? I finished mine a year ago.” (Today in the Word, 9-25-92)

“The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of. Our attention would have been on God.”  (C.S. Lewis)


Here are actual excerpts from real resumes and cover letters. Think you’d hire them?

    * Am a perfectionist and rarely if if ever forget details.

    * I was working for my mom until she decided to move.

    * Marital status: single: Unmarried. Unengaged. Uninvolved. No commitments

    * I have an excellent track record, although I am not a horse.

    * I am loyal to my employer at all costs… Please feel free to respond to my resume on my office voice mail.

    * I have become completely paranoid, trusting completely no one and absolutely nothing.

    * My goal is to be a meteorologist. But since I possess no training in meteorology, I suppose I should try stock brokerage.

    * I procrastinate, especially when the task is unpleasant.

    * Personal interests: donating blood. Fourteen gallons so far.

    * As indicted, I have over five years of analyzing investments.

    * Marital status: often. Children: various

    * Reason for leaving last job: They insisted that all employees get to work by 8:45 am every morning. I couldn’t work under those conditions.

    * The company made me a scapegoat, just like my three previous employers.

    * Finished eighth in my class of ten.

    * References: none. I’ve left a path of destruction behind me.  (from the Daily Dilly)


Every dog has his day – and his trading card.

Now that Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges of “conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and conspiracy to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture,” lots of people are donating their Vick jerseys and t-shirts to animal shelters. But Rochelle Steffen may have had the most imaginative idea, according to an Aug. 24 AP story.

She took her Michael Vick trading cards and gave them to her dogs – a six-year-old Weimaraner and a Great Dane puppy – to chew, mangle, and otherwise abuse. Then she took the cards and put them on eBay, where they are drawing the highest bids of any Vick cards for sale. As of late last week, the bid was at $455 for the lot of 22 cards, and more than 2,000 people had viewed the posting.

Rochelle says she plans to donate the proceeds to the humane society of the bidder’s choice.

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