From the Editor:

Rollover Minutes

Growing a Healthy Church

Use Imagination to Communicate Vision

Teen Sexuality
Preaching, Prayer

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“Leadership is calculated risk-taking.”

(Ted Ward)

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    Vol. 7, No. 13 March 25 , 2008    

Michael Duduit

Last week in a class I was teaching, it was time for the students to preach their own messages. They had a limit of 20 minutes, but the first one went a bit short at only 12 minutes. When we were debriefing about the second preacher – who used every second of his time and still could have gone on – the first preacher suggested, “He could have some of my rollover minutes.”

Wouldn’t it be great to have those rollover minutes from other preachers? We long-winded Baptists could borrow from the Episcopalian preacher down the street. The Presbyterian could pick up from the Methodist preacher who runs a bit short.

Now if we can just work on some rollover offering …

Michael Duduit, Editor

Seminary or college student? A sponsor has enabled us to offer special scholarships to full-time students who wish to attend this year’s National Conference on Preaching in Washington. To apply go to

Be sure to check this week’s Preaching podcast – an interview with Jeff Lucas on reaching postmodern people on both sides of the Atlantic. To listen or download go to


In an article titled, “How to Grow a Healthy Church,” Rick Warren (a Preaching magazine contributing editor) writes: “Church growth is the natural result of church health. But church health can only occur when our message is biblical and our mission is balanced. Each of the five New Testament purposes of the church must be in equilibrium with the others for health to occur.

“Now this is important: Because we are imperfect beings, balance in a church does not occur naturally. In fact, we must continually correct imbalance! It’s human nature to overemphasize the aspect or purpose of the church we feel most passionate about.

“Most evangelical churches already do the five purposes of the church — sort of. But they don’t do them all equally well. One church may be strong in fellowship, yet weak in evangelism. Another may be strong in worship, yet weak in discipleship. Still another may be strong in evangelism, yet weak in ministry.

“Why is this? It’s the natural tendency of leaders to emphasize what they feel strongly about and neglect whatever they feel less passionate about. Around the world you can find churches that have become the extension of their pastor’s giftedness. They focus only on what he cares about most.
“Unless you set up a system and structure to intentionally balance the five purposes, your church will tend to overemphasize the purpose that best expresses the gifts and passion of its pastor.” (Click here to read the full article).


In his new book Church Unique (Josey-Bass), Will Mancini asserts: “To help people see the invisible, the leader must understand how to unlock the imagination. The very act of imagination is deeply connected to faith. The author of Hebrews writes, ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen’ (Heb. 11:1). When a leader activates, or provokes, a follower’s imagination, he or she is serving God and the individual by exercising the muscle of faith.

“Understanding and engaging the mind’s eye is an amazingly powerful practice; even Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge. C.S. Lewis stated this idea eloquently when he wrote, ‘For me, reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.’

“So how does the leader influence the imagination? The answer is through metaphors, blended with the art of storytelling and question asking. Metaphors are the software of thought.” (Click here to learn more about the book Church Unique.)


It’s just two weeks away, and you know you won’t forgive yourself if you miss it! So act now to join us for the 19th Annual National Conference on Preaching, which will be held April 7-9 in suburban Washington, DC. “Preaching and the Public Square: Where Do Pulpit and Culture Meet?” is the provocative theme of the three-day event. You’ll hear speakers and panelists explore how preaching can and should engage cultural issues in the 21st century. You’ll get great ideas from a selection of practical preaching workshops.

At NCP 2008, you’ll enjoy insights and inspiration from some of America’s finest preachers and teachers, including:

Chuck Colson

Rick Warren James MacDonald

Barry Black

William Willimon A.R. Bernard

Mark Batterson

James Emery White Robert Smith Jr.

J. Alfred Smith

Timothy Warren Greg Thornbury

and many more. To learn more or to register, visit the NCP website at or call (toll free) 1-800-527-5226.


Results from a new study released from Ellison Research finds that 13 percent of Americans do not believe at all in the concept of sin. But, a majority of Americans (87%), however, do believe in this concept and they include adultery (81%), racism (74%), use of hard drugs (65%), failing to say anything if they’re given too much change by a cashier (63%), having an abortion (56%), cheating on their taxes (52%) and homosexual activity (52%) as sin. “Sin” was defined in the research as “something that is almost always considered wrong, particularly from a religious or moral perspective.” (Pastor’s Weekly Briefing, 3-14-08)


At least one in four teenage girls in the United States has a sexually transmitted disease, amounting to 3.2 million youth, according to a first-of-its-kind study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released March 11.

About half of the girls admitted ever having sex, and among them, the rate of STD infection was 40 percent, researchers found. The highest overall prevalence was among black girls, with nearly half of them having an STD compared with 20 percent among whites and Mexican-American teenagers, the CDC said. Among the infected girls, 15 percent had more than one sexually transmitted disease.

“This study illustrates the need for continued emphasis and education on remaining sexually abstinent until marriage and then following God’s plan for sex to be enjoyed between one man and one woman in a marriage relationship,” Jimmy Hester, co-founder of the True Love Waits movement, told Baptist Press.

“The practice of early sexual activity with multiple partners carries with it many high and serious risks, and from this study we see just how prevalent the risks are,” Hester, senior director of student ministry publishing at LifeWay Church Resources, said. “Students practicing abstinence until marriage aren’t saddled with the weight of STDs and are able to live healthy, full and meaningful lives.” (Baptist Press, 3-12-08; click here to read full article.)

From the March-April issue of Preaching …

In an article titled, “Biblical Preaching in a Pluralistic Culture,” Mike Milton writes: “Conducting a faithful ministry in the public square of our culture, whether as preachers or educators or Christians in any employment, is not only the call of Christ for the Christian, but also the plan of God for the world. The Gospel goes forward in this way. It always has.

“If you agree with me that Newbigin is exactly biblical when he says that the ‘only answer, the only hermeneutic of the gospel, is a congregation of men and women who believe it and live by it,’ then Christ will use the church in a pluralistic society, committed as it may be to an ideology of pluralism, to draw some – even a number no man can count – to Himself through our salt and light encounter with the religious people of our pluralistic world. We must believe God will use faithful, thoughtful, wise, and winsome Gospel preaching to bring men and women and boys and girls to Himself.

“I am more excited about the task of preaching than ever before. We are in a generation with unlimited opportunities to preach Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I would rather be alive now than in any other time in church history. This is our time. This is our generation. These postmodern, ‘post everything’ people are our people, our hearers.”


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 March-April issue of Preaching: Insightful articles on preaching and culture – including Mike Milton’s article, “Biblical Preaching in a Pluralistic Culture,” plus our annual survey of the past year’s best books for preachers (including our Preaching Book of the Year and our Top Ten list), sermons by Chuck Swindoll and Stuart Briscoe, and much more. Order your subscription today!

If you’ve ever wondered where we get some of the bizarre stories that close out this newsletter (“And Finally…”), then pay a visit to

“Dig the well before you are thirsty.” (Chinese proverb)


Sometimes it seems there’s a whole industry now producing books questioning Christian faith and biblical truth (often by citing later Gnostic writings as if they are on a par with the biblical canon). One author making a living off such skepticism is Bart Ehrman. Some of our members are reading these works, which raises questions for them, so we need to be aware of resources to help them. One such resource is Misquoting Truth (InterVarsity) by Timothy Paul Jones, who takes on Ehrman’s claims in his book Misquoting Jesus. You’ll find it to be a helpful tool in dealing with such issues.


Some pastors read about churches that consist mostly of a single demographic category (like young suburban couples) and recognize their own churches (with a mix of generations from babies to seniors) are sharply different. Howard Vanderwell has brought together a team of writers to produce The Church of All Ages (Alban Institute), which offers help to those who design worship for multi-generational congregations. A majority of contributors are from the Christian Reformed family, but with a mix of other denominations represented, and they offer many helpful insights for leaders in more traditional churches.


Where Is God When We Suffer?

In The God-Centered Life (Regent College), Josh Moody draws on the works of Jonathan Edwards to remind us the focus of a meaningful life is God, not ourselves. This is a timely and valuable book. As Moody writes: “If the contemporary West is anything it is individualistic, centered on answering the great question, ‘What’s in it for me?’ So this matter of being God-centered needs to be trumpeted from our pulpits.”

(Click on the title to learn more or order from Amazon.)




The preacher’s 5-year-old daughter noticed her father always paused and bowed his head, for a moment, before starting his sermon.
One day, she asked him why.
“Well, honey,” he began, proud that his daughter was so observant of his messages, “I’m asking the Lord to help me preach a good sermon.”
“How come He doesn’t do it?” she asked.


Charismatic: Only 1 – Hands are already in the air.

Pentecostal: 10 – One to change the bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

Presbyterians: None – Lights will go on and off at predestined times.

Baptists: At least 15 – One to change the light bulb, and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad and fried chicken.

Episcopalians: 3 – One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks, and one to talk about how much better the old one was.

Unitarians: We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, you are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, 3-way, long-life, and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.

Methodists: Undetermined – Whether your light is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb, or tulip bulb. Bring a bulb of your choice to the Sunday lighting service and a covered dish to pass.

Nazarene: 6 – One woman to replace the bulb while five men review church lighting policy.

Lutherans: None – Lutherans don’t believe in change.

Amish: What’s a light bulb? (from Beliefnet newsletter)

Let’s try just a little more planning next time.

According to a March 14 AP story, a man arrived at the Citizens and Northern Bank in the borough of Liberty, PA (100 miles west of Scranton), and waited in his car for about 20 minutes. Shortly after noon, he tried to enter the bank wearing a ski mask and carrying a rifle. But the bank’s Liberty branch closes at noon on Thursdays, foiling his plans.

The man fled the scene, but bank employees took note of his license plate number. A 28-year-old suspect is now jailed for attempted bank robbery in lieu of $50,000 bail.

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