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Use Them or Lose Them
Evaluating Sermons

Choices, Timing
Christian Life
Fear, Kids

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“I have so much to do that I spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it.”
(John Wesley)

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    Vol. 7, No. 17 April 29, 2008    
Michael Duduit

While many Preaching Now readers are already Preaching magazine subscribers, there are several thousand who are not – and they don’t know what they are missing! Such a thought brings tears to my eyes, and I’d like to help you take advantage of the great resources that Preaching readers already enjoy.

So let me pause for a brief commercial message: Right now you can start your own subscription to Preaching for just $24.95 (rather than the regular $39.95 rate), AND we’ll add a second year free. So that’s two years for just $24.95. (You’ve got to go back about 20 years to get an annual rate that low. In fact, now that I think of it, it was never that low!)

If you like Preaching Now, then you will love Preaching Magazine, and an offer like this won’t be available forever. So go to and start your own subscription right away. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did!

And now, back to our previously scheduled newsletter …

Michael Duduit, Editor

Live in the western United States or planning a visit? Then join us October 20-21 for Preaching West, a two-day preaching conference in Newport Beach, California. Watch this newsletter for more information, or visit


From the Church Leaders Intelligence Report: Recent surveys indicate more than half of the baby boomer population wants the rest of their lives to count for something more significant. They want to invest the rest of their lives for the betterment of their families, their communities, and their world. This segment of the population is not only huge, but more than half of them want to give back to others.

For the church aware of these realities, the boomer could well represent the largest labor force for the kingdom the church has ever seen. These men and women probably will serve willingly in the traditional ways (ushering, greeting, sitting on boards, teaching classes, etc.), but if these are the only offerings you have, then many of them will find greater opportunities to give back to the community outside the church. This is what the baby boomer means when he says to the church, “Use me or lose me.” They would prefer to get involved in something significant in the church, but if the church has too little to offer, they will find opportunities elsewhere. (Leadership Network Advance 3/25/08)


In his new book A Guide to Preaching and Leading Worship (Abingdon), William Willimon writes: “Unfortunately, the last opportunity for sermon criticism most of us had was in a seminary homiletics class. Since then, we have changed, our listeners have changed, and the goals of our preaching may have changed. Are our listeners really hearing us?

“(There is) value in asking fellow pastors to evaluate your preaching, which can be a helpful means of growth because other pastors may provide informed peer criticism of your work. A few guidelines for peer criticism: Any process of peer criticism should be reciprocal. Ask evaluation only from someone who is willing to let you evaluate his or her sermons. This helps to remove some of the threat and temptations inherent in peer evaluation. Agree to evaluation of more than one sermon in order to get a fair picture of your style. Preferably, video should be used; however, evaluators can listen to an audiotape.

“The weakness of peer evaluation is that fellow clergy are not your congregation. They may have the same clerical prejudices and values that cause problems for your congregational listeners when you preach. Therefore, there is no substitute for devising some means of eliciting accurate, usable congregational response to your preaching.”

(Click here to learn more about the book A Guide to Preaching and Leading Worship.)


In 1874, on an otherwise ordinary day, Elisha Grey walked into the sanctuary of the Highland Park Presbyterian Church and made history. He strung a large spool of telegraph wire throughout the church in an effort to create the telephone – a Greek word: tele, meaning “far away,” and phone, meaning “voice.” Grey believed two people could speak to each other from distant points using nothing but liquid-based microphones and wire.

Low and behold, the crazy thing worked. Crowded pews of gaping onlookers were wowed by the success. The sound of the first telephone was born – and in a church no less! Grey had a much harder time swaying his investors with his ingenious product. Based on the bad advice of his dentist, who thought the telephone was “a waste of investor’s money,” Grey’s prototype went nowhere.

After two years of painful delay, a self-determined Elisha Grey packed up his notes and stormed the halls of the U.S. Patent Office to file paperwork on his invention. He was anxious to tell the patent committee all about his success in the Highland Park Church sanctuary.

Unfortunately, another inventor had been working on a similar concept, and as Grey unveiled his story to the committee, he learned Alexander Graham Bell had dropped off his own plans and applied for a telephone patent just two hours earlier.

Although Bell’s plans did not include a working model, nor did his conceptual prototype ever work, the courts found in Bell’s favor and rewarded him the rights to the telephone invention – all because Grey was two hours late with his presentation.

He had left his idea hanging in the sanctuary.

(From Pastors Newsletter by Ron Walters, VP for Ministry Relations, Salem Communications)


Basketball players dress simply: shoes, shirts, shorts, and sweatbands. But life is not so simple for football players – and what about ice hockey players? Besides clothes, the athletes in these two sports have to cover themselves with pads and helmets for protection. Regardless of the sport, no athlete can expect to win without the proper equipment.

Paul wrote to Timothy that Scripture was given by God to man that we might be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” How, exactly, does Scripture equip the believer? It teaches us doctrine, it reproves (disciplines) us, it corrects our path, and it instructs us in righteous living. Plus, it gives us our uniform for “offense” (putting on Christ; Romans 13:14) and “defense” (spiritual armor; Ephesians 6:11-18). In addition, we are given our daily practice gear: service, Bible study, fruit of the Spirit, prayer, and obedience. If that sounds like a lot of equipment, consider the stakes: The spiritual life is a winner-take-all contest.

(Turning Point Daily Devotional, 4-20-08)

From the May-June issue of Preaching …

In an article on “Developing a Vision for Emerging Generations,” Jay Strother writes: “In spite of teenagers’ surprisingly positive interest in matters of religion and active participation in vibrant churches, millions of students ‘graduating’ from our ministries were unable to articulate even the most basic beliefs of the Christian faith. The carefully designed study revealed that young people were emerging from our popular children’s ministries and youth programs with the belief that religion is about doing good and being happy, watched over by a distant and benign Creator whose purpose largely is to help us feel better about ourselves. 

“For all the advances and investments in the fields of preschool, children, and student ministries in the past 30 years, this wasn’t the desired outcome. Barna research revealed in 2006 the inevitable result of such a shallow foundation: Millions of young adults who had been active in evangelical churches as children and teens now were dropping out of church in record numbers as 20-somethings. 

“Lead researcher Dave Kinnaman noted, ‘Much of the ministry to teenagers in America needs an overhaul – not because churches fail to attract significant numbers of young people, but because so much of those efforts are not creating a sustainable faith beyond high school.'”

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 May-June issue of Preaching: It’s one of the issues our members most want us to address and yet we often avoid: sexuality. In this issue we have articles on “Preaching and Marital Intimacy,” “Preaching on Homosexuality,” and much more. Plus you’ll enjoy an interview with creative communicator Ron Martoia, articles by Robert Smith and D.A. Carson, great sermons, and much more. Order your subscription today!

The hot book many are talking about is called The Shack (Windblown Media), and it’s getting lots of attention, positive and negative. The book, by William P. Young, is a fictional account of a man’s meeting with the Trinity in a rather unusual human garb. I haven’t read it myself yet, but I’ve heard lots of folks discuss it – some think it is a powerful faith builder; others think it’s a theological abomination. A pastor I respect, David Dykes of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, has blogged on the book, and you can read his take at

“In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.”
(Mark Twain)

Hearing a Film, Seeing a Sermon
(Westminster John Knox) by Timothy Cargal


God’s Answers to Life’s Difficult Questions

(Zondervan) by Rick Warren


Where Is God When We Suffer?

Speak Until Justice Wakes
(Judson Press) by J. Alfred Smith Jr.


(B&H) by James MacDonald

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


One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm, a mother was tucking her son into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, “Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?”
The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. “I can’t dear,” she said. “I have to sleep in Daddy’s room.”
A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: “The big sissy.”


10. The church bus has gun racks.

9. The church staff consists of Senior Pastor, Associate Pastor, and Socio-pastor.

8. The Bible they use is the “Dr. Seuss Version.”

7. There’s a pub in the lobby.

6. The choir wears leather robes.

5. Worship services are B.Y.O.S.: “Bring Your Own Snake.”

4. Only eight commandments

3. Karaoke Worship Time.

2. Ushers ask, “Smoking or Non-smoking?”

1. The only song the organist knows is “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”

In Brookpark, Ohio, burglars recently broke into an unoccupied house that was being renovated for sale. Among the items they stole were roofing shingles, a lawn mower, weed whackers, and lumber.

Before leaving, though, they mowed the lawn of the residence, perhaps to leave the impression of being the lawn service. In fact, neighbors reported seeing strange men walking around the home, but they never called the police because they figured the men were hired to do the lawn.

The owners were quoted as saying they will leave a pressure washer and painting equipment for the thieves next week, as they did a better job than the lawn care company they had hired. They were cheaper also.

(From Cybersalt newsletter.)

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