From the Editor:

Tech in Church


Borrowing Illustrations
Preaching Salvation or Self-Help?


Mother’s Day
Spiritual Race, Faithfulness
Aging, Travel

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

"Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?"

(Corrie Ten Boom)


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    Vol. 7, No. 18 May 5 , 2008    

Michael Duduit

Some interesting new Barna research shows the rate of churches adopting new technologies is slowing, which may indicate technology is reaching a saturation point in the larger evangelical churches that tend to use it. Meanwhile, smaller churches and those which self-identify as "liberal" tend to use less technology.

According to a recent Barna report, "Two-thirds of Protestant churches (65 percent) now have a large screen projection system in their church that they use for services and other events." That’s 67 percent above the year 2000, but barely ahead of 2005, indicative of a dramatically slowing growth rate.

Another issue impacting worship and preaching is how such screens are used. Barna says, "Most of the churches that have a big screen mounted in the church use that monitor to show movie clips or other video segments. Overall, 57 percent of churches show movie clips or other video segments during their services and events. That represents 88 percent of the churches that have a big screen in place – up from 76 percent of the churches who had big screens in 2000, but a slight decrease from the 99 percent of churches with large screens that showed such materials in 2005."

Among Protestant churches, 62 percent have a website; 56 percent use email blasts to communicate with members; 16 percent are podcasting; and 13 percent have blogs or some kind of interactive communication site.

Technology can be a valuable tool but a dangerous master. Pastors need to make sure the use of technology is managed wisely and never is allowed to get in the way of a clear, effective proclamation of the gospel.

Michael Duduit, Editor

This week’s featured podcast is with Doug Turner, a former pastor who now leads RSI and works with churches in stewardship education. Go to our podcast page to hear this or one of several dozen other podcast interviews.

And don’t forget the special subscription offer available to Preaching Now readers for a limited time: two years of Preaching magazine for just $24.95. That’s less than half the regular cost! Act now!


Is it OK to use an illustration you heard in someone else’s sermon? Yes, provided you are careful about how you present it. As James Wilson observes in an article at his Fresh Ministry website, the key is not to try to present yourself as smarter/funnier/etc. than you actually are. Jim writes:

"A visiting evangelist told a personal illustration while preaching at my college’s chapel service. The story made him look like a caring, loving father and made a powerful spiritual point. During the same semester, another chapel speaker used the same illustration as if it happened to him. Even as a college student, I could figure out that it probably didn’t happen to either of them. 

"The problem with trying to look better than I am is it usually backfires and makes me look worse. Why the deception? Why not introduce the story by saying, ‘I ran across a story the other day that illustrates this point …’ Or if using someone else’s outline, ‘I heard a dynamite outline of this Bible passage recently that I want to share with you this morning.’

"After answering these questions, if I have a clear conscience, I note the source of the sermon in the bulletin, and I preach it in the spirit of humility I learned from Doug Tate, a bi-vocational pastor serving Layman Memorial Baptist Church of Roanoke, Virginia: ‘I know I need to rely, not only on God, but also on the talents and gifts He has given others.’" (Click here to read the full article.)


In a United Methodist Reporter commentary, Andrew Thompson writes: "When you have congregations with lots of practical needs, it is often tempting to use the Bible to help them sort out their messy lives.

"Bishop William Willimon calls this type of preaching the ‘problem-solution format.’ Preachers will take up a problem of contemporary life — depression, rocky marriages or troubled finances — and then use the Bible as a way to offer helpful solutions. In that way, faith is presented as a way to make life easier. 

"Bishop Willimon thinks this terribly shortchanges the Scriptures. ‘[T]he Bible does not simply want to speak to our world,’ he writes in Proclamation and Theology (Abingdon, 2005). Rather, ‘the Bible wants to rock, transform, dismantle and recreate our world.’ 

"Preaching that faithfully reflects that message will be about salvation, not self-help: ‘The Bible wants to redeem us, save us, rescue and liberate us for life in a new world, a world that we would not have known about had not that new world been announced through preaching,’ Bishop Willimon writes." (Click here to read the full column.)


Join us October 20-21 for Preaching West, a two-day preaching conference in Newport Beach, California. The theme is "Preaching Biblical Truth in a Changing Culture," and speakers will include: Dan Kimball, Pastor, Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, Calif. and author of They Like Jesus but Not the Church; James L. Wilson, Professor of Leadership at Golden Gate Baptist Seminary and author of Future Church; John A. Huffman, Senior Pastor of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, Calif.; Michael Duduit, Editor of Preaching magazine; and John Webb, Professor of Communication and Ministry at Hope International University.
Click here to learn more.


In a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, Calvin steps up to his mother’s bed and says, "Hey, Mom! Wake up. I made you a Mother’s Day card." His mother starts to read it aloud:

"I was going to buy a card with hearts of pink and red.
But then I thought I’d rather spend the money instead.
It’s awfully hard to buy things when one’s allowance is so small.
So I guess you’re plenty lucky I got you anything at all.
Happy Mother’s Day. There, I’ve said it. Now I’m done.
So how about getting out of bed and fixing breakfast for your son."

Unlike Calvin, let’s show a bit more appreciation for the moms who have meant so much to our lives!


August 8-24, 2008, the world’s eyes will be focused on Beijing, China, host of the 2008 Olympic Games. If any contest in the Olympics epitomizes the original Greek games, it has to be the marathon, the 26-mile foot race that is traditionally the final event of the summer Olympics. After such a long race, runners cross the finish line with a variety of expressions: some with arms raised in joyful exultation, others with expressions of pain and anguish.

David Jeremiah writes, "The apostle Paul wrote that he wanted to finish his spiritual race with joy. And in Paul’s case, the way he ran the race was the same as the way he finished. The spiritual race is not about the fastest or the one with the most style, it is about faithfulness – running the race with the joy of the Lord. Nehemiah 8:10 says the joy of the Lord is our strength. That means, if we have the joy of the Lord, we can run the race and cross the finish line with the same strength with which we began.

"For the Christian, entering heaven shouldn’t be our only moment of joy. If the joy of the Lord is our strength, every step we take is a winning moment." (Turning Point Daily Devotional, 4-27-08)

From the May-June issue of Preaching …

In a sermon on sexual immorality, John Huffman observes, "You and I can’t read a newspaper, open a magazine, turn on a TV or go to a movie without being barraged with sex. We cannot avoid this topic, and fortunately God gives us the content for our conversation. God, through the inspiration of His Holy Spirit, addresses this issue time after time in His Word, all the way from Genesis to Revelation.

"He does it in a way that is primarily positive, if we take the time to hear what He is really telling us. The apostle Paul confronts the issue head-on, as he writes to a church made up of men and women living in a society every bit as sexually distorted as ours, if not more so."

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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 second Together for the Gospel conference was recently held in Louisville, Ky., with preachers like John Piper, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, R.C. Sproul and others. You can listen to, or download, sermons from this event at no cost by going to:

"All that stands between the graduate and the top of the ladder is the ladder."

Based on a seminar he did at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Don Wilton’s new book When God Prayed (B&H) is a powerful look at the words of Jesus in John 17. Our interview with Don will be a featured podcast at in a few weeks.


How can we know God’s will for our lives? In Guard Us, Guide Us (Baker), J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom use the 23rd Psalm in helping readers understand divine guidance in terms of "guardian grace" and "covenant care." This is a good resource for sharing with church members, and an excellent idea for a sermon series.


Where Is God When We Suffer?

It’s difficult for any pastor to learn too much about leadership, so titles pertaining to the subject always gain our attention. In The Pursuit of Leadership (Xulon), Greg Morris draws on the life of Moses to identify leadership principles that can make a difference in ministry.


If you are preaching or teaching from 1 Corinthians any time soon, you’ll want to consult Anthony Thiselton’s 1 Corinthians: A Shorter Exegetical & Pastoral Commentary (Eerdmans). Unlike his earlier, massive commentary in the NTGTC series, this volume focuses primarily on pastoral and practical issues, making it ideal for preachers and teachers.

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


A group of Americans were traveling by tour bus through Holland. As they stopped at a cheese farm, a young guide led them through the process of cheese making, explaining that goat’s milk was used. She showed the group a lovely hillside where many goats were grazing.

"These," she explained, "are the older goats put out to pasture when they no longer produce." She then asked, "What do you do in America with your old goats?"

A spry old gentleman answered, "They send us on bus tours!" (from You Make Me Laugh)


~ We have received word of the sudden passing of Rev. Smith this morning during the worship service. Now let’s sing "Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow."

~ This Sunday morning following services we will have our monthly feelowship.

~ Sinspiration this Sunday night at church. Ya’ll Come!

~ On the main page of the Web site for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada: "In a show of near anonymity, the convention approved full communion with the Anglican Church of Canada."

~ Lift up our Messianic brothers and sisters in Israel who are suffering during our prayer time.

~ Glory of God to all and peas to his people on earth

~ Join us for a skirt presented by the Drama Team.

~ We will have a Super Bowel party this Sunday night. We will also have our regular service.

~ Applications are now being accepted for 2 year-old nursery workers.

~ Brother Lamar has gone on to be the Lord.

~ The pastor will light his candle from the altar candles. The ushers will light their candle from the pastor’s candle. The ushers will turn and light each worshipper in the first pew.

~ Song Lyrics: What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and briefs to bear.

~ Church sign: Jesus Saves!
Grocery store sign across the street: Safeway saves you more!

~ When their meeting was cancelled one week: There will be no Moms Who Care this week.

If only he’d gone for millions instead.

According to an April 29 story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, an aspiring record label owner is singing the blues after he was arrested trying to pass a $360 billion check at a local bank. (That’s “billion” with a b.)

Employees at the Chase Bank were suspicious after seeing all those zeroes (10 to be exact), so they called the check’s owner. The woman said the suspect is her daughter’s boyfriend and he did not have permission to take the check or cash it. He was arrested on suspicion of fraud, along with unlawfully carrying a weapon and possession of marijuana after officers found less than 2 ounces of the drug and a handgun in his pockets.

Once inside a patrol car, the suspect told police he is starting his own record label and had been given the money by his girlfriend’s mother to help.

Apparently breaking into the music business is an expensive proposition.

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