From the Editor:

Free Books


Preaching to Engage
Tips for Great Presentations


Hope, Evangelism
Ethics, Teens

Mistakes, Integrity

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

"It is not repentance that saves me; repentance is the sign that I realize what God has done in Christ Jesus."
(Oswald Chambers)


Subscribe to Preaching Magazine

Sign up now for a

1-year subscription to Preaching Magazine. That’s 6 great
issues for only $39.95—a savings of over 15% off the newsstand price!









    Vol. 8, No. 10 March 9, 2009    

Michael Duduit

They were words to bring a smile to any preacher’s face: free books.

I just read about a large U.K. book warehouse (and former Amazon supplier) that moved out of its facility and left behind tens of thousands of books. The warehouse owner wanted to clear things out, so the public was invited to come and help themselves. (You can read the story here.)

People brought bags, boxes and prams (baby buggies) to load with their new-found treasures. Organizers said it was like "a swarm of locusts" in the aircraft hanger-sized warehouse.

The only problem: I couldn’t get there, but it’s nice to dream.

Michael Duduit, Editor

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MichaelDuduit

On this week’s Preaching Podcast: Listen to our interview with Brad Waggoner, author of the important new book The Shape of Faith to Come (B&H), as we discuss the state of Christian belief in the 21st century.



In an interview Ed Stetzer did with Andy Stanley (see our Link of the Week below), Andy said, "There is this myth that people say, ‘Sermons need to be short because people today have short attention spans.’ That is totally irrelevant. People’s attention spans are as long as their engagement. If I’m engaged, I will sit and stay engaged until I have to go to the bathroom. The issue is: are people engaged, not how long is the sermon? Granted, there are things that determine how long worship services should be. But communicators need to figure out how well do they engage people, and they should not talk one word longer than people are engaged.

"There are people … who can engage you for an hour and a half in your chair, and they should go an hour and a half. And there are other communicators who can’t keep you engaged for more than 15 or 20 minutes, and they shouldn’t talk longer than that. Because once I am disengaged, then I begin to process the information as: this is irrelevant; church is irrelevant; God is irrelevant; the Bible is irrelevant. And all of a sudden I am learning the opposite lesson. I am drawing conclusions that are opposite of what the communicator is trying to make me draw because I am disengaged.

"So, the issue is: how do you engage the audience? And one of the things I talk to our communicators about is: The outline is great; the stories are great. But how do you engage them? How do you make it feel like we are on a journey, not you are just up there giving me information?"


Pastors often are called on to make presentations to committees and other groups. Here are some helpful tips, by way of the Church Leaders Intelligence Report:

"Connecting with an audience, communicating your vision and passion for your message, can be a beautiful experience. It’s also a rare opportunity to make an impression that might impact the listener’s future. It can either be a gateway or a roadblock to spiritual growth. Remember these tips:

  1. "The pitch. Start with your main point of view and a handful of take-aways. Then build a storyboard around that, one slide per thought. Keep the number of slides down and allow only a few minutes per slide.

  2. "The icebreaker. Start with something to break the tension (yours and theirs): a welcome gesture, engaging or humorous anecdote, graphic or video, or some combination. Keep it relevant and appropriate. Don’t tell a joke.

  3. "The old axiom. Old advice, but it works: First tell the audience what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them.

  4. "Don’t always read what’s on the slide. Use the slides for brief cues and speak in your own words.

  5. "Engage the audience. Ask questions. If they don’t respond, try offering an answer and asking for a show of hands, or ask easier questions. Make the audience part of the experience.

  6. "Be accessible. Don’t stand behind a podium. Use a wireless mic, if needed. Get close to the audience and move from place to place while maintaining eye-contact, but only from time to time. Do not bounce around like a ping-pong ball.

  7. "Pause for effect and emphasis. Practice being comfortable with silence for two or three seconds. It’s the most dramatic way to make a point. Avoid ‘verbal static’ like ahs, uhs, and other fillers of uncomfortable silence; they just detract from your presence.

  8. "Make eye-contact. But only for a few seconds per person. Too short and you’ll fail to engage; too long and it becomes uncomfortable.

  9. "Use hand gestures. They’re engaging and interesting. But when you’re not using them, keep your hands at your sides. Don’t fidget, hold onto things, or put your hands in front of you, behind you, or in your pockets. Have a trusted friend observe your rehearsal to point out nervous habits.

  10. "Don’t block the audience’s view. Don’t step in front of the screen or block it from view, except for the occasional walk-across. Gesture with your hand, but don’t touch the screen. Don’t use a pointer unless you must.

"Remember, you weren’t born with this ability; it takes practice. Be patient with yourself. Finding your own style where you feel comfortable comes with experience." (Adapted from Steve Tobak, bNet, 12/22/08)


Would you like to invest a week and come away with your year’s preaching plan? Preaching magazine and Anderson University jointly are sponsoring the first Preaching Boot Camp, May 18-22, 2009, on the campus in Anderson, South Carolina. The focus of this year’s camp is on planning a preaching schedule, and the keynote speaker is Stephen Rummage, preaching pastor at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte and author of the book Planning Your Preaching (Kregel). Other speakers will include Mike Glenn, Michael Duduit, Ryan Neal and more. Built into the schedule is time for participants to work on their own preaching plan for 2009-2010. To learn more, visit www.preachingbootcamp.com.


He grew up on an Indiana farm; but when he was 16, a farmhand introduced him to the sordid world of drugs. Within a few years, he was known as "Jimmy the Rat" because he lived in holes beneath Chicago where he feasted on an endless supply of heroin, opium, cocaine, and morphine.

One day, lying in a filthy bunk, Jimmy the Rat heard someone singing hymns on the street above. He recalled the hymns he’d sung in church as a boy, and something stirred in him. Shortly afterward, he staggered into the Pacific Garden Mission where he heard the gospel and was gloriously saved.

In 1 Timothy 1:14-17, Paul explained that God had chosen and saved him–the worst of sinners–as a pattern or prototype for others that God intended to save. "God had mercy on me, so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of His great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in Him and receive eternal life"(NLT).

Jimmy the Rat and Paul the apostle! They both teach us to keep praying for that loved one and don’t let up! God doesn’t want any to perish. (Turning Point Daily Devotional, 4-19-06)


According to a recent survey of American teenagers sponsored by Junior Achievement, 80 percent of U.S. teens believe they are ethically prepared to make moral business decisions, but nearly 40 percent believe they need to "break the rules" in order to succeed. Even more troubling, 27 percent think behaving violently is sometimes, often or always acceptable. Twenty percent report to have personally behaved violently toward another person in the past year.

Among those who say they are ethically prepared, 49 percent say lying to parents and guardians is acceptable. Sixty-one percent say they have lied to their parents or guardian during the past year. What does this say about future workplace behavior and what will be needed to prepare and train these future leaders? (Christian Post 2/18/09)

From the March-April issue of Preaching …

In an Easter message, John Huffman begins with this illustration: "Rick Richardson, professor and writer, tells about a pastor named Dan, who realized he was getting stale. So with the approval of his pastoral team, he took a part-time job at a Starbucks coffee shop.

"To his surprise, ‘All 21 people he worked with believed in God. Not one was an atheist … They were all very positive toward God and spirituality.’ Richardson goes on to report:

"A second surprise was that all were interested in spiritual things, but not in Christians, Christianity, or the church. No one wanted to hear Dan’s proofs for God or invitations to come to church or ideas about salvation. Almost everyone thought they knew what Christianity was about and had decided they didn’t want it. They were post Christian. At some point along the way, each of them had experienced a breach in trust related to Christianity. Maybe a Christian friend had been hypocritical or pushy. Maybe when they were young they had attended church and found it boring and irrelevant. Maybe they had watched TV preachers and been turned off. Or maybe they had experienced a tragedy–death or sexual abuse or some other trauma–and felt that God had been distant and uncaring.

"Richardson said, ‘Dan wasn’t starting at ground zero, but rather at minus three or four … The biggest thing Dan learned is that people in this generation have a prior question of trust that must be addressed before we can have meaningful spiritual conversations with them.’

"Pastor Dan had discovered the outside understanding of how the church was viewed by some people."

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 March-April issue of Preaching: Our annual survey of the year’s best books for preachers, plus an interview with James Emery White, articles on preaching in tough financial times and "Preaching in HD," sermons by Stuart Briscoe, John Huffman, Mike Glenn and much more. Order your subscription today!

Andy Stanley is one of the most effective communicators around, and Ed Stetzer shares a fascinating interview he did with Andy. You can read it here.

By the way, I did an interview with Andy that appeared in Preaching magazine five years ago. As a bonus link, you can read that one here.

"When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it." (Bernard Bailey)

Although many leadership books pastors read are rooted in a corporate model, Neil Cole takes a far different approach in his book Organic Leadership: Leading Naturally Right Where You Are (Baker Books). Cole challenges many of the ideas we hold about leadership and offers valuable insights for growing leaders naturally.


In Sticky Church (Zondervan), pastor Larry Osborne describes how North Coast Church has grown from 128 to more than 7,000–not through marketing but through developing authentic relationships. Their effective linkage of small groups to the weekly message is a model that can be helpful to other churches.



One of the most intriguing reference sets available is the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (InterVarsity), which provides commentary on the biblical text drawn from the writings of the ancient church fathers. It is a wonderful tool for preachers and teachers to have access to the insights on the text from the earliest generations of Christian leaders and thinkers. Two of the most recent releases in this series are Volume V–1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (edited by Marco Conti)–and Volume VII–Psalms 1-50 (edited by Craig Blaising and Carmen Hardin).

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


One day, an employee received an unusually large check. She decided not to say anything about it. The following week, her check was for less that the normal amount, and she confronted her boss.

"How come," the supervisor inquired, "you didn’t say anything when you were overpaid?"

Unperturbed, the employee replied, "Well, I can overlook one mistake–but not two in a row!"


1. I am thy Main Squeeze; thou shalt squeeze no others besides me.


2. Thou shalt not take the name of thy Squeeze in vain, nor badmouth me behind my back.


3. Remember our Anniversary, and keep it holy. Or else.


4. Honor MY father and mother. THINE are too weird.


5. Thou shalt not kill my love by behaving tackily and making me embarrassed to be seen with thee.


6. Thou shalt not commit adultery, nor shalt thou even THINK about it if thou knowest what’s good for thee.


7. Thou shalt not steal from my purse/wallet while I am in thy bathroom, nor use my credit cards, nor make long-distance calls from my telephone.


8. Thou shalt not talk about our personal problems to our friends.


9. Thou shalt not covet the higher market price of thy neighbor’s house.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s Squeeze, nor son or daughter, nor stereo, nor BMW.  (from Daily Dilly)

I wonder if Jonah had a cell phone?

Another "belly of the fish" story recently took place in England, where Andrew Cheatle lost his cell phone at the beach. A week later he got a call that his phone had been found by a fisherman—inside a 25-pound cod.

According to a March 2 UPI story, Cheatle dried out the phone and discovered it still worked, though he ultimately did replace the circuit board.

Glen Kerley, the fisherman, discovered the Nokia phone as he was gutting the cod he had caught. He had tried to use the phone but it didn’t work, so he took out the SIM card and put it in his handset to trace the owner.

"It was a bit smelly but I was glad to return it," he said.

Share This On: