From the Editor:

Staying Connected

Need to Read
Why Teams Fail

Words, Encouragement
Giving, Urgency

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”
(Martin Luther King Jr.)

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    Vol. 7, No. 31 August 26, 2008    
Michael Duduit

What happened to the promises that technology would make our lives simpler?

Recently I made my way onto Facebook, one of those social-networking sites that teens and young adults find so compelling. I thought I’d be using it to connect with my college students, but I’ve been amazed at how many of my peers are actively involved in connecting with others through Facebook. Not only am I in touch with pastors and church leaders, I’m also getting contacts from friends and colleagues from 20 and 30 years ago. At last count, I’m at 60 “friends” and climbing.

Facebook just opened the gate. Now I’ve added Twitter, so friends and colleagues can keep up with my fascinating comings and goings on a regular basis via brief updates. (Boy, are they going to be bored when they learn how uneventful my life is.)

Still, I sort of miss the days when getting together with a friend only meant meeting for lunch. Staying connected is a big job these days!

Michael Duduit, Editor

This week’s featured podcast is with Don Wilton, pastor of First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, S.C., and author of the book, When God Prayed. Go to our podcast page to hear this or one of several dozen other podcast interviews.


In a column for Baptist Press, Ken Hemphill writes: “While staying at a local hotel, I picked up a quarterly magazine which focused on high performance business and people from the local area and beyond. Included was a book review of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind. I quickly scanned the article to see if there were any principles of value. The author, T. Harv Eker, speaks of what he calls ‘mastering the inner game of wealth’ and he pictures the brain as a large storage vault of millions of ‘files’ for the various categories of life. Eker’s goal is to help readers revise the ‘money files’ which might be betraying our success.

“One of the corrupted ‘files’ and its replacement captured my attention. ‘Rich people constantly learn and grow. Poor people think they already know.’ The point is clear. People who have been successful are those who continue to read and learn. Those who think they know all there is to know about a subject remain impoverished.

“As I thought about that ‘file,’ I recalled a pastor friend telling me of an event he attended where Kenneth Blanchard, the author of several best-selling leadership books, was the keynote speaker. He made a simple statement that startled the participants. He indicated that with very few exceptions ‘readers are leaders.’ Yet, he went on to relate the statistics of how few people today are actually ‘readers.’

“I speak at numerous meetings where a LifeWay bookstore is provided. I am constantly amazed at how few of the participants at these meetings attended by the leaders or potential leaders of our churches actually purchase books. On my way home from a recent trip, I was browsing in an airport bookstore when I ran into a recent graduate from one of our Baptist colleges. During our conversation he indicated he was relieved that since college he no longer had to read.

“Can it be true that we no longer read? Are Eker and Blanchard correct about their emphasis on the importance of learning to succeed? Could this explain why many churches struggle to recruit leaders for various ministry needs? Is this the primary reason many churches have plateaued and are declining?” (Click here to read the full article.)


In a recent edition of her communications newsletter, Laura Benjamin suggested 10 reasons why many teams fail. Among the reasons are that teams fail to …

Discover each other’s strengths. At the beginning of each project, teams should take time to go ’round the table and say, ‘Here’s what I’m good at,’ or ‘Here’s where my strengths lie.’ That way, people are very clear about which roles they should play and have a better idea how to achieve the tasks before them. They’ll be using their resources wisely. Too often, we don’t even know whether a teammate is left handed or right handed, much less recognize what they’re good at.

“Practice diversity vs cloning. Teams tend to clone themselves and select participants who are ‘just like me.’ They often fail to see someone with a radically different approach may bring a perspective that makes the team smarter, stronger. Granted, these people will rock the boat and question groupthink, but if we’re looking for innovative and creative thinking, it doesn’t serve the organization to play it safe.

“Recognize the informal leader’s power. There are those who command a great deal of respect and informal authority because of who they are and how they conduct themselves vs. what rank or title they hold. These folks have the ability to influence others and get things done in ways that others cannot.” (Click here to read the full article.)


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. To learn more visit www.preaching.com/west

Aug. 31 is deadline for lowest NCP rate!

Act now to take advantage of the lowest registration rate ($150 per person, good only until Aug. 31), and join us for the 20th Annual National Conference on Preaching, April 20-22, 2009, in Tampa, Florida. We’ll have a great line-up of speakers, including John Ortberg, Stuart Briscoe, Jack Graham, Robert Smith, Dave Stone, Steve Brown, Ralph Douglas West, Tommy Green, Timothy Warren and many more. To take advantage of the deepest discounts available on registration, go to www.preaching.com/ncp



In the Aug. 22, 2008, edition of his UpWords devotional, Max Lucado writes: “Nathaniel Hawthorne came home heartbroken. He’d just been fired from his job in the custom house. His wife, rather than responding with anxiety, surprised him with joy. ‘Now you can write your book!’

“He wasn’t so positive. ‘And what shall we live on while I’m writing it?’

“To his amazement she opened a drawer and revealed a wad of money she’d saved out of her housekeeping budget. ‘I always knew you were a man of genius,’ she told him. ‘I always knew you’d write a masterpiece.’

“She believed in her husband. Because she did, he wrote. Because he wrote, every library in America has a copy of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

“You have the power to change someone’s life simply by the words you speak. ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue.'” (From maxlucado.com)


Greatly loved Bible teacher, Henrietta Mears, once said to a classroom of students, “A bird is free in the air. Place a bird in the water, and he has lost his liberty. A fish is free in the water, but leave him on the sand and he perishes. He is out of his realm. So, young people, the Christian is free when he does the will of God and is obedient to God’s command. This is as natural a realm for God’s child as the water is for the fish, or the air for the bird.”

As David Jeremiah observes: “Notice Mears did not say obedience is ‘easy’ for God’s child, but natural. In other words, it is where we belong and thrive. When we resist being obedient, we put ourselves in bondage to sin and take ourselves out of God’s blessing. When we decide to obey, we are free in Christ Jesus, knowing we are exactly where we are supposed to be.

“The next time you feel like a fish out water in your relationship with the Lord, thrust yourself back into the waters of obedience and flourish with His blessing!”  (Turning Point Daily Devotional, 8-22-08)

From the September-October issue of Preaching …

In an interview with Ralph Douglas West, pastor of Houston’s The Church Without Walls, he observes, “One thing that goes lacking that is identifiable on Sunday morning when you stand up is if you didn’t have time to prepare. Much of that preparation comes out of the time we season our soul in prayer. So those become primary–a devotional life and being still. I think those become the big pastoral challenges.

“It used to be, when I was growing up, there was the Pastor’s Study. Now everything is the Pastor’s Office. Just the nuance of the word makes a difference. Study was a time when you prepare before God, a quiet time. Office was for administration and business. I think a pastor has to get back to that moment where we protect our time–not to let the urgent scream so loud that it blares out and we end up on Saturday night saying, ‘Oh my goodness, what do I do tomorrow?'”

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 September-October issue of Preaching: Interviews with John Ortberg and Ralph Douglas West, articles on “The Preacher as Storyteller” and preaching in a “post-everything world,” plus great sermons and much more. Order your subscription today!

Catalyst offers a series of interesting podcasts with cutting-edge church leaders. You can download them from iTunes or go to their site to learn more.

“When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.” (C.S. Lewis)

Something a little different this week …

In our first article of this issue, Ken Hemphill talks about the importance of reading for church leaders so they continue to grow and learn. So, what book have you found most helpful to your ministry over the past year?

Send me a note this week (michael@preaching.com) and tell me what has been the most valuable book you’ve read in the past year and why. (Be sure to include the author’s name. Let’s all presume the Bible would be your first choice, so send me your second!) Don’t forget to include your name, town and church or organization.

I’ll share the results in future issues of Preaching Now.


A crumbling old church building needed remodeling. After the sermon, the preacher made an impassioned appeal looking directly at the richest man in town. At the end of the appeal, the rich man stood up and announced, “Pastor, I will contribute $1,000.”

Just then, plaster fell from the ceiling and struck the rich man on the shoulder. He promptly stood back up and said, “Pastor, on second thought I will increase my donation to $5,000.”

Before he could sit back down, plaster fell on him again. This time he cried out, “Pastor, I meant to say $10,000.”

He sat down, and a larger chunk of plaster fell on his head. He stood up once more and proclaimed, “Pastor, I will give $20,000!”

This prompted a deacon to shout, “Hit him again, Lord! Hit him again!”


12. The 60 Minutes film crew shows up.

11. Your picture ends up on a milk cartoon.

10. People arrive at the meeting, clutching copies of books about “spiritual abuse.”

9. The church constitution suddenly becomes revered as the most important legal document since the Magna Carta.

8. The little blue-haired lady who’s in charge of the nursery pounds the lectern with her shoe and screams, “We will bury you!”

7. The next day your spouse books a one-way flight to South America and doesn’t invite you to come along.

6. Your neighbors hear about the meeting on their police scanners.

5. A loyal supporter presses a can of Mace into your hands.

4. Another loyal supporter presses a moving company business card into your hands.

3. Another loyal supporter presses Jack Kevorkian’s business card into your hands.

2. You’re asked to try on a pair of bloody gloves.

1. People begin referring to you as “our former pastor.”

(adapted from Leadership Journal)

Don’t mess with the librarians in Grafton, Wisconsin.

A Grafton woman discovered that the hard way when she was arrested and booked for failing to pay her library fines. Heidi Dalibor, 20, had ignored the library’s calls and letters, as well as a notice to appear in court.

She was surprised when officers with a warrant knocked on her door, cuffed her, and took her to the police station to be fingerprinted and photographed. Police Capt. Joe Gabrish said officers follow the same procedure with every warrant.

According to an Aug. 21, 2008, AP story, library director John Hanson said a couple of dozen people are cited each year for failure to return materials or pay fines. The incident cost Dalibor about $30 for the overdue paperbacks White Oleander and Angels and Demons. Her mother paid more than $170 to get her out of custody.

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