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From the Editor:

The Power of Story

Preaching and the
3:00 am Test

Pastors and Pay

Faith, Expectations
Enemy, Love
Mistakes, Confusions
Healing, Misunderstanding

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

We’ve drifted away from being fishers of men to being keepers of the aquarium.”

  (Paul Harvey)

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    Vol. 6, No. 34 October 2, 2007    

Michael Duduit

For the past week I’ve been watching Ken Burns’ new multi-part documentary on World War II, called simply “The War.” Over 14 hours, viewers get a sense of how the war impacted the nation, through the eyes of soldiers on the battlefields and civilians on the homefront.

In fact, as I write these words I’ve been watching one of the episodes, and it is a vivid reminder of the power of story. Unlike the names and dates that characterize some history classes, Burns sweeps you into a grand experience through the power of story. He draws on the stories of people in four American cities and how the war touched lives in those places (as well as soldiers from those places).

Stories are powerful tools. They draw us in, help us relate, inspire us to act. As preachers, we can’t overestimate the value of story in helping people connect with big ideas. No wonder Jesus used them so often.

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: Church planting and evangelism; Slaves no more; Wake up, Fred.

If you’ve never attended one of our one-day preaching conferences, think about joining us for one of nine events planned this fall. (See below for more information.) You can also visit for more information on all of our conferences.


In a discussion about expository preaching with, Bryan Chapell explains the 3:00 an test, and why it matters to preachers:

“If your spouse or roommate were to roll you out of bed at 3 A.M. and ask, “What is the sermon about this Sunday morning?” if you cannot answer in one crisp sentence, the sermon’s not ready to preach. You need an idea people can grasp. If the sermon’s idea is, “In the Babylonian incarceration of God’s people, they suffered for seventy years to determine what God’s plan was and never could determine it…” and you keep talking, that idea is not going to pass the 3 A.M. test. We need something like “God remains faithful to faithless people,” something that’s crisp.

Remember, we are speaking to listeners, not to readers. In an oral medium I need to speak to people in a way they can readily hear what my main ideas are. Presenting crisp ideas will help.

We also need to think, What will make people have to listen to what I am saying? I encourage preachers to include in the introduction the “fallen-condition focus.” Namely, what aspect of this fallen world requires us to hear what this Scripture is addressing today? I’m going to ask of a text not only, “What’s the main idea?” but “Why was it written?” and “How are we like the people to whom it was written?” By asking, “How are we like them?” I begin to think of my people: What are they struggling with? What do they have to confront? I want to state that in crisp and particular ways to make them think, I’ve got to listen to this; this really is something that I’m struggling with, and I want to know what the Word of God has to say about it.” (Click here to read the full interview)


Here’s a surprise to no one: church income and pastoral salaries have a strong correlation. In an article by Kevin Miller concerning the forthcoming 2008 Compensation for Church Staff Handbook, he observes, “Briefly, if you want to earn more as a senior pastor, become a Presbyterian.  If you want to earn more as a youth pastor, become a Baptist.

“Presbyterian senior pastors earned the most in our survey-their average salary plus housing/parsonage was $78,000-while Baptist senior pastors earned next to last-$67,000. But virtually the opposite was true for youth pastors. Baptist youth pastors earned near the top–$44,000 in salary plus housing-while Presbyterian youth pastors earned near the bottom–$36,000. Why?

“The answer comes from two factors: church income and denominational values. Our research consistently shows that the biggest single factor in determining any pastor’s pay is the church’s income. And among churches with senior pastors, Presbyterian churches have the highest-reported church income, so some of that gets passed along to their senior pastors.”

Miller also reports on the website that despite the fact that only 6 percent of reporting churches had women as solo pastors, “female solo pastors reported 10.4 percent higher total compensation. Their average salary was 8.6 percent higher than men’s ($49,219 compared to $45,259); and better housing and retirement benefits made up the rest. Why the difference? Why do female solo pastors earn, for total compensation (includes health insurance, retirement, and continuing education), $62,472, when their male counterparts earn $56,558? . . .

“The more-likely explanation is regional. We know that solo pastors receive the highest pay in the New England and Pacific states (not surprisingly, given the higher cost of living in these regions). And these regions probably have the greatest cultural acceptance of women serving as solo pastors. Thus, women solo pastors tend to find work in regions with a high cost of living, and consequently, get a higher salary.”  (Click here to read the full article.)


It’s time to register for one of the Preaching magazine one-day preaching conferences in cities across the US, featuring two different seminar topics.

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:

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:

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


Michael Halleen writes: “Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal (1394-1460) never captained a ship or sailed on a voyage of exploration.  He stayed home and read accounts of others who had.  He thought about what they said and let his mind march around new theories about what the world must be like.  He wondered and imagined, calculated and drew maps.  Prince Henry died thirty years before Portuguese explorers were able to test his theories, but when they did, they brought back proof that he had been incredibly accurate.  As a result, Portugal took the lead in world exploration for fully a hundred years.  Other nations held back, making excuses about internal problems.  Other explorers did not see the possibilities or worried about lack of money.  They lacked faith to move past what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles.

To feel bound by perceived limits is so human, so common.  A century ago there were predictions that no one could ever drive a car 60 miles per hour because the wind would suck one’s breath away.  In 1934 the track coach at the University of California laid out what he believed were the absolute limits of achievement in track and field events.  All of them, of course, have long since been exceeded.  High school athletes today are out-performing Olympic champions of a few decades ago.  There appears to be no limit to how fast we can run, how far we can go, how high we can leap.

So we do well not to set limits on what we can do and become as children of God if we believe in the power of Christ within us.  We do well not to minimize the potential of the people of God when we act in faith.”  (Monday Moment, 6-25-07)


During the Civil War, a woman who was a staunch supporter of the Union once chided Abraham Lincoln for speaking too kindly about the southern states. The woman said that he should focus on destroying his enemies instead of being nice. Lincoln responded, “Why madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” 
(Today in the Word, May 2007)

From the September-October issue of Preaching . . .

In an exclusive interview with Eugene Peterson, he talks about the relationship between his preaching and his writing: “Writing is very different from preaching. Oral ways of using words are very different from a literary way of using words. If I preached something first then wrote it, it was really hard, and the same way the other way. They don’t mix. I usually wrote my sermons; not always, most of the time. I had a hard time getting the written word into oral form.

“I never read my sermons, never memorized my sermons. I hate doing that; I miss the spontaneity of pastor/congregation. So I am not sure they helped each other, or maybe they helped each other just by the tension, the contrast. I think I found it harder to write into a book something that I already preached, because of the emotion, the energy; the adrenaline of the pulpit wasn’t there when I was writing it, so it was like starting over again. A number of things I have written started off as preaching, but nobody could take that and preach it; there is not enough juice in it.”

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!


For that handful of preachers who haven’t already discovered it, take some time to go to Sermon Central and see the variety of sermons, illustrations and other resources available. Pastors are able to post their own work and share it with others; as a result, Sermon Central boasts a large and growing collection of sermons and illustrations. Lots of material is free, with even more available to subscribers. Check it out at


“Mister, why doesn’t this cow have any horns?” asked the young lady from a nearby city on field trip to the country.

The farmer cocked his head for a moment, then began in a patient tone, “Well, ma’am, cattle can do a powerful lot of damage with horns. Sometimes we keep ’em trimmed down with a hacksaw. Other times we can fix up the young ‘uns by puttin’ a couple drops of acid where their horns would grow in, and that stops ’em cold. Still, there are some breeds of cattle that never grow horns.

“But the reason this cow don’t have no horns, ma’am, is ’cause it’s a horse.”


Most pastors get plenty of training in biblical studies and systematic theology, but not much in management, marketing or other business fields. If you fit that description, then you’ll benefit from The Minister’s MBA (B&H Books) by George S. Babbes and Michael Zigarelli. These two Christian management profs offer solid counsel through a twelve-part “course sequence” to introduce you to business essentials for ministers.


Prayer is an essential of a growing walk with Christ, and Thomas Steagald has offered a valuable book in Praying for Dear Life (NavPress). Though helpful to any believer, it will be of particular interest to ministers as Steagald describes the power of prayer in a single “day” of pastoral service.


The Intelligent Design debate continues, and a recent contribution to the discussion is Darwin Strikes Back: Defending the Science of Intelligent Design (Baker Books) by Thomas Woodward. The author helps readers understand the issues and the controversy surrounding the ID movement. This will be a useful introduction to those who have been wondering what ID is all about and why it has stirred such opposition.

(Click on the title to learn more or order from


A lady had been exposed to strep and needed to visit the doctor’s office just to have her throat swabbed for a culture. She sat in the waiting room for quite a while with her legs crossed, reading a magazine while other patients came and went. Suddenly her turn was called, but when she stood up to go in, she discovered her leg was “asleep”. Not wanting to keep the nurse waiting, she limped and staggered toward the inner office door. She noticed one elderly lady nudging another who sat beside her, as the two of them sympathetically watched her painful progress.

Ten minutes later, her procedure completed and her leg back to normal, she walked easily back into the waiting room. As she strode past the two elderly ladies, she overheard one whisper triumphantly to the other, “See, Myrtle, I TOLD you he was a wonderful doctor!”  (from Cybersalt Digest)

“Ideas are like children – your own are wonderful.”

(everything you always wanted in a church . . . and less)

7. Guaranteed 20-minute sermon or your next one’s free!
6. Your choice of only 8 commandments
5. Only happy hymns and choruses
4. Fewer commitments
3. No messages on subjects that hit too close to home
2. Reclining pews with pillow pads and head rests
1. Offering followed by a complimentary beverage and after service mint

(From “Bible Humor Top Seven Lists” by Dave Veerman and Rich Anderson.

Some tree is due for a really big T.P. party.

It appears that the toilet paper is being regularly stolen from the men’s rooms in the Fond du Lac, Wis., County Government Center, according to a Sept. 28 AP story. The robberies tend to happen midday and have been going on since the beginning of summer.

A county spokesman insists, however, that it’s not a great loss, asserting: “We don’t buy the best toilet paper.”

According to the news report, courthouse officials are on the lookout for suspicious activity – or some guy carrying an armful of toilet paper.

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