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From the Editor:

NCP in D.C. in April

Your Family and Your Preaching

Good News, Bad News

Register Now for NCP 2008

Loneliness, Leadership
Offering, Sermons

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amatueurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.”


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    Vol. 7, No. 4 January 22, 2008    

Michael Duduit

I am excited as plans for the 2008 National Conference on Preaching come together. I truly believe this will be a life-changing event for hundreds of pastors and church leaders as they gather to confront the challenge of preaching in today’s culture.

The program for the April 7-9 event features some of the most influential preachers in America, including Rick Warren, Chuck Colson, James MacDonald, Barry Black, William Willimon, James Emery White and a host of others. From the inspiring evening worship services (with music led by the incomparable Richard Allen Farmer) to the theme-related addresses, practical preaching workshops, and provocative panel discussions – it will be a powerful investment in your ministry.

I hope you’ll mark your calendar right now. Better yet, go to and register online! (Click here if you’d like to see a pdf of the full-color brochure for the conference.)

I hope to see you in Washington this April!

Michael Duduit, Editor

Listen to any of more than 20 podcast interviews (with preachers like Charles Stanley, Max Lucado, John Ortberg, and many more) at Click here to learn more.


In his new book Preaching Ethically (Alban Institute), Ronald Sisk asks, “To what degree should a pastor bring his or her relationship with family into preaching? Some things can be said without question. The pulpit is not the place to work on one’s marriage or discipline one’s children or take a swipe at a family member who has irritated you. Your family’s right to privacy must be respected as much as that of any member of the congregation. As a minimal standard, I tell my homiletics classes they must never mention a member of their family from the pulpit without telling the person exactly what they plan to say and getting that person’s permission.

“But isn’t the life of the pastor’s family a part of that pastor’s witness, a part of the substance of her ministry? Of course it is, and that is precisely why we must be careful to respect the boundaries of our family relationships. If your family members are not more important to you than your church; if their dignity and privacy are not more important to you than making a point in a sermon (even a very good point that you can’t make any other way), then you have misplaced your priorities and seriously compromised your Christian witness.”  (Click here to learn more about Preaching Ethically.)


In the Jan. 14, 2008, edition of his Sightings newsletter, Martin Marty says: According to volume 32 of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, of the 6,691,484,000 people in the world in 2008, in the broad-brush-painted sense, 2,231,421,000 are Christian; 1,412, 301,000 are Muslim; 887,991,000 are Hindu; Buddhists number 391,122,000; and Jews number 15,044,000.

Every 24 hours the world has a population net growth of 219,000 people. Christians number 170,000 converts per day but 91,000 people defect, so the net growth is 79,000 Christians each day. Of the 2,113,199,000 “affiliated” Christians, 1,476,690,000 are “church attenders.” How the database computers come to this next figure I do not know, but they list 175,000 Christian martyrs worldwide this year, which means 480 per day. This is down from 377,000 in 1970.

Don’t think the database folks are in public relations. They rank trends and facts from “Very Good Situations” to “Very Bad Situations.” Let’s start with the pits. Number fifty: Criminal penalties against clergy in sexual abuse cases now exceed $2 billion. Bankruptcies follow. Number 49: “Annual [world-wide] church embezzlements by top custodians [of funds] exceed the entire cost of all foreign missions world-wide.” Number eight among Very Good Situations: “The country with the fastest Christian expansion ever is China, now at 16,500 new converts (including births) every day.”

The compilers know of 39,000 separate denominations and 3,684,000 congregations around the world. Church members around the globe have an income of $18,170 billion. The nominal Christian percentage around the globe is 33.3 percent. It’s been in the thirty-threes and thirty-fours since 1800.” (Click here to read the full column.)


Plan 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 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) 1-866-460-0950.


In his book Turning Points, Robert Beringer shares this story: The novelist, A.J. Cronin, tells a story from his own experience as a doctor who catches the wonder of the gift of grace. The Adams family at the close of the Second World War decided to open their home to a little refugee boy with the outlandish name of Paul Piotrostanalzi. The Adams had two daughters and a son named Sammy. Sammy and Paul became inseparable friends, but little Paul was a difficult child, and often disobeyed Mr. and Mrs. Adams.

One day, little Paul went swimming in some contaminated water. He became very ill with a high fever, and the doctor suggested he sleep in an attic bedroom. But little Sammy missed his friend Paul so much that one night he crept up the attic stairs and into bed with Paul. Paul’s hot breath fell on Sammy’s neck all night. In the morning, Sammy, never a strong child, became deathly ill. Paul recovered his health, but Sammy died within three days. It was a terrible tragedy for the Adams family.
A year later Dr. Cronin decided to pay a call on the Adams family. As he pulled into their driveway, he was amazed and then angry as he saw Paul, the refugee boy, working in the garden with Mr. Adams. He got out of his car and angrily approached Mr. Adams. “What’s this Paul Pio … whatever his name is, doing here after what he did to your family?” Mr. Adams looked at the doctor and then said quietly, “Dr. Cronin, you won’t have any more trouble with Paul’s name. You see, he’s Paul Adams now. We’ve adopted him.” That is a wonderful story of costly grace.  (via newsletter)


In his forthcoming book Leadership Gold (Thomas Nelson), John Maxwell writes: “There’s a cartoon in which an executive is shown sitting forlornly behind a huge desk. Standing meekly on the other side of the desk is a man dressed in work clothes, who says, ‘If it’s any comfort to you, it’s lonely at the bottom too.’

“Being at the top doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. Neither does being at the bottom. I’ve met lonely people at the bottom, on the top, and in the middle. I now realize that loneliness is not a positional issue; it’s a personality issue.”

From the January-February issue of Preaching …

In a sermon by Michael Milton, he observes: “When I was a boy, I chased armadillos. If you have never seen an armadillo, they look like a possum with a turtle shell. Well, actually, they just look like an armadillo and nothing else. Aunt Eva would ask, ‘If you were to catch that filthy thing, what would you do with it?’

“Praying the Lord’s Prayer can be like chasing an armadillo. We all believe the Lord wants us to pray it, but what if you really understood what you were praying? And what would you do if God began to answer your prayer?

“To pray ‘Your kingdom come’ is to be involved in a gospel conspiracy to take over the world! It is a prayer that changes the make-up of the cosmos, beginning from your very heart and moving out in space and time to everything under creation. Are you really ready for that?”

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!

In this week’s Preacher’s Bookshelf section, we’ll highlight a new book, I Want to Believe, by Mel Lawrenz, senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, WI. (Stuart Briscoe, our long-time Contributing Editor with Preaching Magazine, was Mel’s predecessor in that role.) Lawrenz and the church provide a valuable online ministry resource, The Brook, which features a “faith conversation of the week,” message of the week, leadership interviews, articles, and much more. It’s all free, and you can find it by clicking here.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up someplace else.” (Yogi Berra)


The Max Lucado illustration earlier in this newsletter reminds us that we live in an age when people insist there are many ways to God. In the new book I Want to Believe (Regal), pastor Mel Lawrenz explores the truth claims of several different faiths, then makes the case for Christ as the ultimate answer. This is an excellent resource for pastors, and could offer ideas for some excellent sermon series.


In his newly-released How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind(InterVarsity), theologian Thomas C. Oden challenges many of the prevailing views of the intellectual development of Christianity. He demonstrates that African Christianity played a decisive role in the development of Christian life and thought. In the 21st century, when the majority of the church lives in the southern hemisphere, it is important to recognize Christianity is not a European import to Africa, but rather the reverse in many ways.


Pastors who enjoy reading theology will find a helpful resource in The Westminster Dictionary of Theologians (Westminster John Knox). The work was originally written in Spanish, and it includes more theologians from Africa, Asia and Latin America than might be typical of a similar project written in the U.S. or Western Europe. As does the Oden book, this volume is a reminder that God is at work in significant ways around the globe.

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



A little girl became restless as the preacher’s sermon dragged on and on. Finally, she leaned over to her mother and whispered, “Mommy, if we give him the money now, will he let us go?”


A grizzled old man was eating in a truck stop when three tough-looking bikers walked in.

The first walked up to the old man and pushed his cigarette into the old man’s pie, and then he took a seat at the counter. The second walked up to the old man and spit into the old man’s milk, and then he took a seat at the counter. The third walked up to the old man and turned over the old man’s plate, and then he took a seat at the counter.

Without a word of protest, the old man quietly left the diner. Shortly thereafter, one of the bikers said to the waitress, “Humph, not much of a man, was he?”

The waitress replied, “Not much of a truck driver, either. He just backed his truck over three motorcycles.”  (from Good Clean Funnies list)


Now that we’re in the thick of the political campaign season, it might be a timely moment to recall some of the insights of our 40th president, Ronald Reagan:

“The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

“I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress.”

“The taxpayer: That’s someone who works for the federal government but doesn’t have to take the civil service examination.”

“Government is like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”

“The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program.”

“I’ve laid down the law, though, to everyone from now on about anything that happens: no matter what time it is, wake me, even if it’s in the middle of a Cabinet meeting.”

“It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.”

“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving subsidize it.”

“Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed, there are many rewards; if you disgrace yourself, you can always write a book.”

“No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is as formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.”

“If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

I suspect Rev. Walter Hermanns said a lot of prayers recently when he discovered his ticket for last weekend’s NFC playoff championship had been destroyed.

Hermanns, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, was getting some cleaning help from a friend when he asked him to shred a stack of papers left in a bin, according to a Jan. 16, 2008, AP story.

When the friend got to four Green Bay Packers tickets bundled together with a rubber band, he took off the band, put one in the shredder and then stopped short.

“Something rang a bell and he said, ‘Are you sure you want to shred these?'” Hermanns said. By now, however, the first ticket was in shreds.

They emptied the shredder, collected pieces of the ticket and put them in a plastic bag. The Packers’ ticket office fixed the situation, but not without some explaining.

“It almost sounded like they had heard crazy stories like this before,” Hermanns said.
And those prayers didn’t hurt either.

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