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From the Editor:

Favorite 2007 Titles

Protecting Pastoral Integrity

Preaching Goes Experiential, Not Scripted

Sanctity of Life
Mistaken Identity, Preaching

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“Some can trace their family back 300 years, but can’t tell you where their children are tonight.” 

(Lawrence Brotherton)

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    Vol. 7, No. 1 January 1, 2008    

Michael Duduit

The end of 2007 brought lots of lists of the best books of the year. Though I’m running a little later than some, here are my selections (in no particular order) of the books I most enjoyed reading in 2007. (I have intentionally omitted books dealing with preaching, since my list of the best preaching books of the year will be featured in the March-April issue of Preaching magazine.) Among my favorites of 2007:

My Grandfather’s Son by Clarence Thomas. Whether or not you agree with Thomas’ politics or judicial decisions, you can’t help but be moved by his story of growing up in poverty, and the powerful influence of grandparents who made sure he built a life that mattered.

The Most Famous Man in America by Debby Applegate. I did my dissertation on Henry Ward Beecher and thought I knew him well. I may have known his preaching well, but this fascinating biography offered new insights into the life of one of the most influential preachers and public figures of his age.

The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years of Reporting in Washington by Robert D. Novak. This memoir by a long-time political reporter and commentator gave a unique perspective into the bizarre world of political journalism. I also enjoyed Novak’s story about his own Christian conversion in later life.

Washington’s God by Michael Novak. Novak shows that the father of our country was a committed Christian believer for whom his faith was a major influence in his life and career.

Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear by Frank Luntz. One of America’s premier political and business pollsters offers a brilliant analysis of communicating in a contemporary setting, and why the words you use matter. This is a great book for preachers, as is the next title . . .

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath. There are certain characteristics that make ideas connect and stick in the minds of people. The insights shared here will be useful to any communicator.

Now on to 2008 and new books! (Click on a title to learn more or order from Amazon.)

Michael Duduit, Editor


In a wide-ranging interview with a series of megachurch pastors for Outreach, Craig Groeschel (senior pastor of 20,000-member in Edmond, OK) talks about the steps he takes to be accountable in his personal and ministry life: “I have an intricate system of checks and balances. A while ago, my mentor and accountability partner had an affair, and he stepped down from ministry. A few years later when I started, he asked to come and work for me, and I had him sit on the bench for a year. Well, he ended up stealing money from the offering as an usher. I confronted him on it, and he killed himself. It rattled my world. I saw what sin could do.

Today, my life is set up so it would be very hard to fail – not because I plan on failing, but because I plan on not failing. My Internet access is monitored. I have no access to the finances here. My salary is set by lay people. I haven’t been alone with a woman besides my wife in I don’t know how long. I never travel anywhere alone. Every moment of my day is kept accountable by someone.”  (Click here to read the full article.)

FEEDBACK: What steps do you take as a church leader to be accountable and to avoid moral lapses? Share your comments with us at and we’ll share excerpts with our readers in a future issue of Preaching Now.


In a recent issue of Leadership, pastor Leith Anderson observes that “the introduction of the experiential into evangelical preaching has been a significant factor. Preaching is not just someone talking, but it’s providing sight and sound and experience. This is done in different ways at different levels in different churches. But the introduction of PowerPoint added a visual aspect for a while, perhaps less so now. We see the use of video clips and other visuals, and increasingly in many churches that reach a younger generation, participation through various exercises and activities that are connected to preaching.

“PowerPoint has been largely a Baby Boomer phenomenon. Younger adults wonder about the validity and credibility of anything perceived to be canned. Authenticity is a critical aspect, especially with younger adults, in the preaching experience. It doesn’t seem authentic that a speech is all written out and words appear on the screen at exactly the same time. So PowerPoint is less used with younger adults and becoming more a characteristic of an older generation.

“It’s a delicate balance here, because to be authentic, things can’t come across as too scripted. And yet, a certain amount of scripting is necessary in order to use technology. For example, one of the things we’re working with at Wooddale Church is encouraging young adults to use their cell phones to text message questions about the sermon and have those questions appear on the screen. That’s participation, that’s technology, but it’s not prepared questions in advance in a PowerPoint that shows up at exactly the right time. So it’s high tech, but it’s participatory, not scripted.” (Leadership, Summer 2007)


“Preaching and the Public Square: Where Do Pulpit and Culture Meet?” is the provocative theme of the 19th annual National Conference on Preaching, which will be held April 7-9 in suburban Washington, DC. You’ll enjoy insights and inspiration from some of America’s finest preachers and teachers, including:

Chuck Colson James MacDonald Barry Black
William Willimon A.R. Bernard Mark Batterson
J. Alfred Smith James Emery White Robert Smith

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


Tim Tebow, quarterback for the University of Florida, became the first sophomore in history to win the coveted Heisman Trophy as the best college football player in the country. With 29 passing touchdowns and 22 rushing touchdowns, Tebow displayed the kind of versatility and athleticism for which every football coach prays. However, if doctors had had it their way, Tebow wouldn’t be here today, according to the Gainesville Sun and

Pam Tebow and her husband Bob were Christian missionaries in the Philippines in 1985 and they prayed for their child even before Pam became pregnant. When she did, she contracted amoebic dysentery, an infection of the intestine caused by a parasite found in contaminated food or drink. As a result, Pam entered a coma.

The treatment for the medical condition required strong medications which would cause irreversible damage to her unborn son and leave him with devastating disabilities. Doctors advised her to have an abortion.

Pam Tebow refused the abortion and cited her Christian faith as the reason for her hope that her son would be born without the devastating disabilities physicians predicted. She ultimately spent the last two months of her pregnancy in bed and, eventually, gave birth to a completely healthy baby in August 1987.

“The combination of Timmy’s God-given talent, hard work, character and leadership have made a mark on and off the football field,” said Pam.

Former New York Giant Chris Godfrey shudders to think of the millions of Tim Tebows who aren’t here today. “You just have to wonder how many good things did not come into our world because of our unwillingness to say ‘Yes’ and to trust in God,” he said.  (Pastor’s Weekly Briefing, 12-04-07;


“In his book Horns and Halos, Dr. J. Wallace Hamilton tells about one of the weirdest auction sales in history; and it was held in Washington, D.C., in 1926, where 150,000 patented models of old inventions were declared obsolete and placed on the auction block for public auction. Prospective buyers and onlookers chuckled as item after item was put up for bid; such as a ‘bed-bug buster’ or an ‘illuminated cat’ that was designed to scare away mice. Then there was a device to prevent snoring. It consisted of a trumpet that reached from the mouth to the ear; and was designed to awaken the snorer and not the neighbors. There also was an adjustable pulpit that could be raised or lowered according to the height of the preacher.
Needless to say, this auction of old patent models was worth at least 150,000 laughs, but if we would look into this situation a little deeper, we would discover that these 150,000 old patent models also represent 150,000 broken dreams. They represented a mountain of disappointments.”  ( newsletter, 12-16-07)


From the January-February issue of Preaching …

In an article on “Preaching Doctrine with Flavor,” Jere Phillips begins, “My wife makes the best fudge brownies in the world. Fresh out of the oven, they fill the air with hunger-inducing aroma. Not waiting till they cool, you bite into the soft cake and it nearly melts in your mouth, making you immediately want more.

“My wife also makes the worst fudge brownies in the world. If any are left over for more than a few days, they become brittle to the touch and dry in the mouth. Unless you soak one in milk, it’s quite like eating chocolate sawdust.

“Unfortunately for our church members, much of what passes for doctrinal preaching is more like the second batch of brownies. Most congregations have the same reaction: They’d rather pass. Why? Too often our doctrinal sermons tend to sound like Systematic Theology 101, a lecture rather than a message from God. Wouldn’t you like to hear a presentation of biblical truth that was like warm, moist brownies instead of cold, dry ones?”


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 January-February issue of Preaching: An exclusive interview with Charles Stanley, articles on “Preaching with Flavor,” “The Expository Method,” the final installment in Michael Quicke’s series on “Preaching and Trinitarian Worship,” sermons by Stuart Briscoe, Marvin McMickle, Michael Milton, and much more. Order your subscription today!

Pastor Calvin Wittman believes that January is a great time for a “State of the Church” message. In an article at the LifeWay pastors site, he says: “The New Year is approaching and you may be considering a sermon on ‘making resolutions’ or on ‘fresh starts.’ I want to encourage you to consider using the first Sunday of January to preach an annual ‘State of the Church’ message.

  • Consider that the New Year is a natural time for new ideas, new directions, and new approaches to old ideas.

  • Many of your people are thinking about making changes as they look to 2008.

  • Your annual State of the Church message can serve as an effective way to restate your vision to your congregation.”

He then offers several practical ideas for developing such a message. Read more here.


“If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.” (Steven Covey)


One of the things virtually every Christian minister does at some point is lead the serving of the Lord’s Supper. New Testament professor Ben Witherington offers a valuable discussion of this important element of worship in his book Making a Meal of It: Rethinking the Theology of the Lord’s Supper (Baylor Univ. Press). He discusses the background of the eucharist, the biblical discussion of it, and how the practice developed in the church. This is a fascinating and useful book for any pastor.


Speaking of the Lord’s Supper, there’s another new book of interest: Understanding Four Views on the Lord’s Supper(Zondervan), featuring essays representing the Baptist/Memorial, Reformed, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic perspectives. After each essay, the other contributors have an opportunity to respond. The brief volume offers an interesting theological conversation.



One of the things we tell preaching students is that they must exegete both text and congregation. In Everyday Theology (Baker Academic), a team of authors helps us understand how to do cultural exegesis – reading and interpreting the texts and trends produced within our contemporary culture, and recognizing where those intersect with our faith. This will be a useful book for church leaders in understanding the changing culture in which we live and learning to engage that culture with a biblical worldview.

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



Sister Margaret had spent weeks preparing the first grade children for their first Communion, stressing the solemnity and importance of this sacrament.

Much to her chagrin, during the service on the big day, one boy in the front row was talking and giggling nonstop. Finally, unable to put up with it any longer, she whispered to the lad seated next to her, “Please go up there and tell that one he’s done enough talking and had better stop, right now!”

Without question, the boy walked to the front and delivered Sister Margaret’s message to the surprised priest in the middle of his sermon!


A cantor, the man who sings the prayers at a synagogue, brags before his congregation in a booming, bellowing voice: “Two years ago I insured my voice with Lloyds of London for $750,000.” There is a hushed and awed silence in the crowded room. Suddenly, from the back of the room, the voice of an elderly woman is heard: “So what did you do with the money?”  (from Cybersalt Digest)


Most people assume WWJD is the acronym for “What would Jesus do?” But the initials really might stand for “What would Jesus drive?”

One theory is that Jesus would tool around in an old Plymouth because the Bible
says, “God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden in a Fury.”

In Psalm 83, the Almighty clearly owns a Pontiac and a Geo. The passage urges
the Lord to “pursue your enemies with your Tempest and terrify them with your

Possibly God favors Dodge pickup trucks because Moses’ followers are warned not
to go up a mountain “until the Ram’s horn sounds a long blast.”

Meanwhile, Moses rode a British motorcycle, as evidenced by a Bible passage
declaring that “the roar of Moses’ Triumph is heard in the hills.”

Joshua no doubt drove a Triumph with an after market slip-on muffler because:
“Joshua’s Triumph was heard throughout the land.”

And, following the Master’s lead, the Apostles car pooled in, you got it, a
Honda: “The Apostles were in one Accord.” (from Mikey’s Funnies)

Justice waits for nothing – except, maybe, football.

According to a Dec 22 AP story, West Baton Rouge Parish District Judge Alvin Batiste – a Louisiana state judge near the home of the LSU Tigers – has agreed to postpone a trial scheduled to start on the same day LSU plays Ohio State in the BCS national championship game.

Stephen Babcock, an attorney defending Imperial Casualty Insurance Co. in a lawsuit over a car crash, requested the delay. In the written request for a new trial date, Babcock refers to Ohio State as “Slowhio” (“due to their perceived lack of speed on both sides of the ball”) and notes that Allstate, sponsors of the Sugar Bowl, are not a party in the insurance case.

“All counsel to this matter unequivocally agree that the presence of LSU in the aforementioned contest of pigskin skill unquestionably constitutes good grounds,” Babcock wrote. “In fact we have been unable through much imagination and hypothetical scenarios to think of a better reason.”

“We might disagree on the merits of the case, but everyone was in agreement on this, for sure,” Babcock said during an interview.

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