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From the Editor:

Clergy Appreciation Month

Blogging as

What Helps Churches
Make a Comeback?

Second Coming
Unintended Consequences

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“History is a vast early warning system”

  (Norman Cousins)

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    Vol. 6, No. 37 October 23, 2007    

Michael Duduit

The month of October has come to be recognized as Clergy Appreciation Month in many circles. In a recent editorial for The Alabama Baptist, Bob Terry offered several suggestions for ways to honor and encourage the pastor. I particularly appreciated this one:

“Do not distract the minister from a ministry opportunity. Sad are the stories of a minister who receives cruel and ugly messages immediately before a service. An angry church member complains about what happened in Sunday School. A member waits until ‘the next time I see that minister’ to deliver a message about something he or she dislikes. Someone angry with the minister berates the minister right before the church service starts. Then the minister is supposed to lead the service – a worship service, a funeral, whatever – as if nothing has happened.

“Distracting the minister immediately before a ministry opportunity is one of the surest ways to sabotage his or her usefulness to God in that situation. It is as if the person distracting the minister wants the minister to fail. There is no appreciation for the minister in such actions.” (Click here to read the full column – and feel free to share it with church members!)

Michael Duduit, Editor

Until October 31 you can save $125 on your registration for the National Conference on Preaching, which is April 7-9, 2008, in the Washington, DC. area. The theme is “Preaching and the Public Square: Where Do Pulpit and Culture Meet?” and the program includes great speakers like Chuck Colson, James MacDonald, Barry Black, James Emery White, William Willimon, Robert Smith, Mark Batterson and many more. Learn more at


Can a blog be a strategic tool in casting a vision for your church? Yes, according to Brian Bailey in his book the blogging church (John Wiley & Sons). Bailey writes: “The vision of your church is too critical to be left to a quiet weekend in the summer and a dusty CD case at the resource table. The vision should be part of all that you do as a church and shared regularly, whether online or from the stage.

“The ultimate way to share the purpose of your church is through casting the vision – again and again. One great way to do this is through blogging. A blog allows you to constantly remind people why the church does what it does. What is the purpose behind it all? Why is volunteering important? What does outreach mean? Why do we do communion? What are the priorities of the church?

If you are the senior pastor, or if the senior pastor is blogging, you have a truly unique opportunity. There is incredible power in a pastor’s authentic, personal voice. Through a blog, your church can become so familiar with this voice that you’ll hear them echoing your phrases and defending the church with the same passion and reasoning. With this power comes the responsibility to effectively communicate the God-given vision for your church.”

(Click here to learn more about the book the blogging church)


Speaking to a conference at New Orleans Baptist Seminary, LifeWay Research head Ed Stetzer said: Comeback churches exhibited three common faith factors: a renewed belief in Jesus Christ and the mission of the church; a renewed attitude of servanthood; and a more strategic prayer effort.

“You can’t love Jesus and hate His wife … you know the church is the bride of Christ,” Stetzer said. “The reality is they fell in love with the church again.”

Leaders of the revitalized churches stopped focusing on their own preferences and began focusing on servanthood. According to Stetzer, the successful leaders began exhibiting the attitude of Jesus found in Philippians 2:5-11. And they focused on seeking God’s direction through prayer.

“They prayed. They heard from the Lord. They got on mission,” Stetzer said. “There were a lot of structural changes, but we need to start with the spiritual things. Leaders lead people to spiritual changes.”

Comeback churches renewed their evangelistic efforts, and for many churches, this means learning to love the lost, Stetzer said.

The churches illustrated their love for the lost by actively witnessing. Stetzer said each successful church used a variety of evangelism methods. While some church members excelled at traditional door-to-door outreach, other members developed relationships with the lost as an avenue for witnessing. None of the comeback churches in the Stetzer survey used only one evangelism method, but each created an environment where both spontaneous and planned evangelism could take place.

“Most churches love their traditions more than they love the lost,” Stetzer said. “We lock ourselves into a self-affirming subculture.”

Removing barriers to the Gospel was another way the churches showed love for the lost, Stetzer said. These barriers included meaningless tradition and practices that repelled unchurched people. Stetzer suggested keeping the focus on the Gospel.

“We need to remove every stumbling block we can except the stumbling block of the cross,” he said. (Baptist Press, 10-18-07; 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


An elderly minister who survived the great Johnstown Flood of 1889 loved to regale audiences with tales of that harrowing event. When he died and went to heaven, he found himself in a meeting of saints who were sharing their life experiences. He took St. Peter aside and asked if he could tell about surviving the Johnstown Flood. Peter hesitated, then said, “Well, you can tell your story, but just keep in mind that Brother Noah will be in the audience.”

David Jeremiah writes: “There is something in our human flesh that loves to tempt us to talk about ourselves — how big, tall, great, smart, wealthy, or wise we are. Even how humble we are! But God has his ways of helping us learn that we’re not quite what we would like others to believe. In fact, to prompt a little humility in us, He tells us that all our great deeds ‘are like filthy rags’ (Isaiah 64:6). It’s not that God doesn’t want us to be lifted up. It’s just that He wants to exalt us His way, not the world’s way. He wants us to see that our greatness is because of Christ’s greatness, not because of ours.

“Next time you’re tempted to talk about yourself, look around the room and see who God might have in the audience.” (Turning Point Daily Devotional, 10-17-07)


A young lady busied herself getting ready for a blind date. This was not just dinner and a movie; her date had planned dinner at an exclusive downtown restaurant with live music and dancing. Wanting to make a good first impression she had taken the day off work. She cleaned her apartment; she went out that afternoon to have her hair done and get a manicure. When she got home she did her makeup, put on her best dress and was ready for her date’s arrival. His expected arrival came and went, but she continued to wait patiently.

Finally after waiting over an hour she decided she had been stood up, so she took off her dress, let down her hair put on her pajamas, gathered all her favorite junk food and sat down to watch TV with her dog. Sometime later there was a knock at the door; it was her date. He looked at her surprised and said, “What I gave you an extra two hours and you’re still not ready to go!”

Jesus is coming again. Will you be ready for His return, or will He catch you unprepared? (D. Greg Ebie, “Ready or Not,” SermonCentral newsletter)

From the November-December issue of Preaching . . .

In a Past Masters column on James S. Stewart, Wayne Shaw writes, “Convinced that the preacher who expounds the Bible has endless variety at his disposal, he preached comprehensively on the great themes of the faith.  His method of preparation was to write down his thoughts on the biblical text and the theme and then organize the chaos.  Though he manuscripted every sermon for the first ten years in order to improve his style, he carried only a single sheet of paper into the pulpit with his outline and any quotations on it. “If I misquoted a piece of English literature,” he said, “an elder would meet me at the door to correct me from memory.”

Stewart’s sermons always had size and substance. They were about God in Christ and the difference He makes for our lives. His themes, though wide and varied, were always Christological and kerygmatic. He believed that preaching exists, “not for the propagating of views, opinions, and ideals,” but for “the proclamation of the mighty acts of God.” Its essence consists of proclaiming  “that prophecy was fulfilled; that in Jesus of Nazareth, in His words and deeds, His life and death and resurrection, the new age had arrived; that God had exalted Him, that He would come again as Judge, and that now was the day of salvation.”

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 November-December issue of Preaching: Interviews with Eugene Peterson and Max Lucado, “Blue Man Preaching,” “Preaching the Psalms as Stories,” Part 3 of Michael Quicke’s series on “Preaching and Trinitarian Worship” and much more.
Order your subscription today!


Why listen to all those presidential candidate debates when there’s a quick and easy way to choose a candidate?

Just visit The WQAD candidate survey

Based on your answers to a series of policy questions, you’ll be given a list of candidates (Republicans and Democrats) ranked according to how closely their positions correspond to your own views. (As if policies were how most people make such decisions! Why is there nothing here about hairstyles, fashions, spouses and other critical factors in choosing a candidate?) If nothing else, it’s fun to see how closely your views match that of your preferred candidate, according to the computer.

Oh, and about not watching the debates? Just a joke – don’t send me any nasty emails. I’m still watching them . . . and watching, and watching, and . . .


A little guy is sitting at the bar just staring at his drink for half an hour when this big trouble-making biker steps next to him, grabs his drink and gulps it down in one swig. The poor little guy starts crying.

“Come on man. I was just giving you a hard time,” the biker says. “I can’t stand to see a man crying.”

“This is the worst day of my life,” says the little guy between sobs. “I can’t do anything right. I overslept and was late to an important meeting, so my boss fired me. When I went to the parking lot, I found my car was stolen and I don’t have any insurance. I grabbed a cab home but, after the cab left, I discovered my wallet was still in the cab. At home I found my wife cheating with the gardener and my dog bit me. So I came to this bar trying to work up the courage to put an end to my life, and then you show up and drink the poison!”


The average pastor is under intense pressure today, with almost half reporting that they’ve experienced depression or burnout which has made them consider leaving ministry or at least taking a leave of absence. In Preventing Ministry Failure (InterVarsity), Michael Todd Wilson and Brad Hoffmann offer a personal guidebook for ministers to help them deal with common pressures and find fulfillment in ministry. An important recommendation: develop relationships with other pastors to provide mutual support. (70% of ministers today say they do not have anyone they consider a close friend.)


One of the realities of postmodern life is the popular revulsion at the idea of having “only one way” to salvation. Surely a pluralistic society can do better? In the book Only One Way? (Crossway), edited by Richard Phillips, several outstanding Christian writers (including David Wells, D.A. Carson and J. Ligon Duncan III) discuss the exclusivity of the gospel. This is a valuable resource for preachers and church leaders who must deal with this issue regularly.


The second edition of Hermeneutics: Principles and Processes of Biblical Interpretation (Baker Academic) by Henry A. Verkler and Karelynne Gerber Ayayo is now available. This edition includes developments in hermeneutics over the past two decades. Written primarily as a textbook on biblical interpretation, it will be of value to church leaders who have never had any serious study in this area or who are looking for a refresher.

(Click on the title to learn more or order from


A golfer and his buddies were playing a big round of golf for $200. At the eighteenth green the golfer had a ten foot putt to win the round, and the $200.

As he was lining up his putt, a funeral procession started to pass by. The golfer set down his putter, took off his hat, placed it over his chest, and waited for the funeral procession to pass. After it passed, he picked up his putter and returned to lining up his putt.

One of his buddies said, “That was the most touching thing I have ever seen. I can’t believe you stopped playing, possibly losing your concentration, to pay your respects.”

The golfer turned to him and said, “Well, it was the least I could do. We were married for 45 years!”


“An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.”   (T.S. Eliot)



I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.
Police were called to a day care where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.
Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He’s all right now.
The roundest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference.
The butcher backed up into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.
To write with a broken pencil is pointless.
When fish are in schools they sometimes take debate.
The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.
A thief fell and broke his leg in wet cement. He became a hardened criminal.
Thieves who steal corn from a garden could be charged with stalking.
We’ll never run out of math teachers because they always multiply.
When the smog lifts in Los Angeles, U.C.L.A.
The math professor went crazy with the blackboard. He did a number on it.
The professor discovered that her theory of earthquakes was on shaky ground.
The dead batteries were given out free of charge.
If you take a laptop computer for a run you could jog your memory.
A dentist and a manicurist fought tooth and nail.
A bicycle can’t stand alone; it is two tired.
A will is a dead giveaway.
Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.
A backward poet writes inverse.

It may be rude to be text messaging while having a conversation with someone, but it can be life threatening to do it while driving. Just ask Robert Gillespie, who was text messaging while driving at 2 am, when he suddenly looked up and realized he was driving into the side of a freight train.

When officers arrived, they found him alert and talking, but trapped in the car, according to an Oct. 16 AP story. Gillespie, 38, was charged with drunken driving and careless driving, according to Eugene, OR, police spokeswoman Kerry Delf. His injuries were described as not life threatening, and no members of the train crew were hurt.

“There are all kinds of ways to get distracted these days,” said Delf. “We don’t recommend any of them while you’re driving.”


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