From the Editor:

A Teachable Spirit


Church More Informal, Diverse
Preaching Judgment
Enlist in Preaching Boot Camp



Diets, Self-Control

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”
(John Maxwell)


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    Vol. 8, No. 2 January 13, 2009    
Michael Duduit

Last week I had my first meeting with a preaching class I’m teaching at Anderson University (the one in South Carolina), where I serve as Dean of the Graduate School of Christian Ministry. Because we don’t launch the Master of Ministry degree until August (click here to learn more about that), I’m teaching undergraduate classes right now.

It is such fun to work with students who are, for the most part, at the very beginning of their preparation for ministry. They haven’t formed any bad habits yet — or good ones, for that matter. They are eager, open and fun to be with. They’re still teachable.

One of the things that helps a church leader continue to grow through the years is a teachable spirit. Too often, leaders get to a certain stage in their lives and decide they’ve got it figured out — no more conferences, no more reading stimulating books that aren’t for next Sunday’s sermon. That’s when the slow, steady slide to mediocrity begins.

No matter where we are in our lives and ministry — whether fresh-faced or seasoned veteran — we’ve still got stuff to learn. The more I explore and seek to learn, the more I grow as a leader. So take some time this week to learn: Pick up a challenging book to read; make plans to attend a conference; call a couple of pastors you don’t know well and set up a lunch visit just to brainstorm. Stretch your brain — you’ll find it will also stretch your impact.

Michael Duduit, Editor

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


Worship in American churches is increasingly informal and growing more ethnically diverse, according to a Christian Post report on the recent National Congregations Study. The article notes: “More worship services include drums, jumping and shouting or dancing, raising hands in praise, calling out ‘amen,’ visual projection equipment, applause, and speaking by people other than leaders compared to 1998, the National Congregations Study shows. Fewer churches feature traditional choirs during services.

“Most of the informal service changes occur in Protestant and Catholic churches that are increasingly using visual projection equipment and drums. The increase in jumping, shouting and dancing occur most frequently in black churches.

“Lead researcher Mark Chaves, a sociology professor at Duke University School of Divinity, noted the study’s findings are especially noteworthy because ‘religious traditions and organizations are widely considered to be remarkably resistant to change,’ according to USA Today.

“But the numbers for some features have remained about the same, including a sermon or speech, singing, greeting time, silent prayer or meditation, reading or reciting Scripture time, and speaking in tongues during service.

In other findings, the median congregation is the same size today as it was in 1998 (75 regular participants); the median person still attends a congregation that is the same size as it was in 1998 (400 regular participants); the overall level of conflict within congregations has not changed much since 1998, with 26 percent of congregations experiencing a conflict in the last two years that led some people to leave.” (Click here to read the full article.)


In an article on “Preaching Hell in a Tolerant Age,” Timothy Keller observes: “Moderns reject the idea of final judgment and hell. Thus, it’s tempting to avoid such topics in our preaching. But neglecting the unpleasant doctrines of the historic faith will bring about counterintuitive consequences. There is an ecological balance to scriptural truth that must not be disturbed.

“If an area is rid of its predatory or undesirable animals, the balance of that environment may be so upset that the desirable plants and animals are lost — through overbreeding with a limited food supply. The nasty predator that was eliminated actually kept in balance the number of other animals and plants necessary to that particular ecosystem. In the same way, if we play down ‘bad’ or harsh doctrines within the historic Christian faith, we will find, to our shock, that we have gutted all our pleasant and comfortable beliefs, too.

“The loss of the doctrine of hell and judgment and the holiness of God does irreparable damage to our deepest comforts — our understanding of God’s grace and love and of our human dignity and value to Him. To preach the good news, we must preach the bad.” (from www.PreachingTodaySermons.com; click here to read the full article.)


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.


In a recent issue of his One Minute Uplift newsletter, Rick Ezell writes: “Even the smallest amount of faith can be the difference in whether or not you finish strong.

“In 1972, NASA launched the exploratory space probe Pioneer 10. According to Leon Jaroff in Time, the satellite’s primary mission was to reach Jupiter, photograph the planet and its moons, and beam data to earth about Jupiter’s magnetic field, radiation belts, and atmosphere. Scientists regarded this as a bold plan, for at that time no earth satellite had ever gone beyond Mars, and they feared the asteroid belt would destroy the satellite before it could reach its target. But Pioneer 10 accomplished its mission and much, much more.

“Swinging past the giant planet in November 1973, Jupiter’s immense gravity hurled Pioneer 10 at a higher rate of speed toward the edge of the solar system. At one billion miles from the sun, Pioneer 10 passed Saturn. At some two billion miles, it hurtle passed Uranus; Neptune at nearly three billion miles; Pluto at almost four billion miles. By 1997, 25 years after its launch, Pioneer 10 was more than six billion miles from the sun. Despite that immense distance, Pioneer 10 continued to beam back radio signals to scientists on Earth.

“‘Perhaps most remarkable,’ writes Jaroff, ‘those signals emanate from an 8-watt transmitter, which radiates about as much power as a bedroom night light, and takes more than nine hours to reach Earth.’ The Little Satellite That Could was not qualified to do what it did. Engineers designed Pioneer 10 with a useful life of just three years, but it kept going and going. By simple longevity, its tiny 8-watt transmitter radio accomplished more than anyone thought possible.

“In like manner, the seed of faith planted within us is like that tiny 8-watt transmitter. We can become more powerful than the situation we are facing. We can keep going, and going, and going. God has implanted with us all the faith we need. As long as we keep our heart focused on Him, God can work.” (Copyright 2004, Rick Ezell; to subscribe email www.rickezell.net)


We sometimes miss the great opportunities of life because we get sidetracked. I once heard the tale of a talented and gifted bloodhound in England that started a hunt by chasing a full-grown male deer. During the chase, a fox crossed his path, so he began to chase the fox. A rabbit crossed his hunting path, so he began to chase the rabbit. After chasing the rabbit for a while, a tiny field mouse crossed his path, and he chased the mouse to the corner of a farmer’s barn. The bloodhound had begun the hunt chasing a prized male deer for his master and wound up barking at a tiny mouse. It is a rare human being who can do three or four different things at a time — moving in different directions. (Eric S. Ritz, www.Sermons.com)

From the January – February issue of Preaching …

In his article “Every Preacher is a Theologian,” R. Albert Mohler writes, “Every pastor is called to be a theologian. This may come as a surprise to those pastors who see theology as an academic discipline taken during seminary rather than as an ongoing and central part of the pastoral calling. Nevertheless, the health of the church depends upon its pastors functioning as faithful theologians — teaching, preaching, defending and applying the great doctrines of the faith.

“One of the most lamentable developments of the last several centuries has been theology’s transformation into an academic discipline more associated with the university than the church. In the earliest eras of the church, and indeed throughout the annals of Christian history, the central theologians of the church were its pastors.

“Athanasius, Irenaeus and Augustine were all pastors of churches, even as they are revered as some of early Christianity’s greatest theologians. Similarly, the great theologians of the Reformation were, in the main, pastors such as John Calvin and Martin Luther. Of course, their responsibilities often ranged beyond those of the average pastor, but they could not have conceived of the pastoral role without the essential stewardship of theology.

“The emergence of theology as an academic discipline coincides with the development of the modern university. Of course, theology was one of the three major disciplines taught in the medieval university. Yet, so long as the medieval synthesis between nature and grace was commonly understood, the university was always seen to be in direct service to the church and its pastors.

“The rise of the modern research university led to the development of theology as merely one academic discipline among others — and eventually to the redefinition of theology as ‘religious studies’ separated from ecclesiastical control or concern. In most universities, the secularization of the academy has meant the academic discipline of theology has no inherent connection to Christianity, much less to its central truth claims.

“These developments have caused great harm to the church, separating ministry from theology, preaching from doctrine, and Christian care from conviction. In far too many cases, the pastor’s ministry has been evacuated of serious doctrinal content, and many pastors seem to have little connection to any sense of theological vocation. All this must be reversed if the church is to remain true to God’s Word and the gospel. Unless the pastor functions as a theologian, theology is left in the hands of those who, in many cases, have little or no connection or commitment to the local church.”

Editor’s Note: In the print edition of the January-February issue, we neglected to include the credit line for the article by R. Albert Mohler. It should have indicated the article is excerpted from Mohler’s book He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World, published by Moody Press. Copyright © 2008. Reprinted by permission. For more information on the book, click here.

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Also in the January-February issue of Preaching: A series on missional preaching, including an article by Ed Stetzer and interviews with Stetzer and Dan Kimball, plus Ben Awbrey on Preaching with Unction, and much more. Order your subscription today!

A good Bible study software package is a tremendous resource for the preacher, but not everyone can invest in such software. If you fit in that category, don’t despair — a variety of Web sites are available to provide alternative resources for Bible study for preaching and teaching. Robert Harris, at his VirtualSalt site, has a page packed with links to Bibles and Bible-study sites, which can help the preacher; you’ll find it here.

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor.” (Max DePree, Leadership is an Art)

Young earth or old earth? Even among creationists there is disagreement about how the creative process took place. In The Bible, Rocks and Time (IVP), two geology professors who are evangelical Christians “seek to convince readers, on biblical and geological grounds, of the vast antiquity of this amazing planet that is our God-given home.” This is a substantive work that deserves consideration.


A related text is Intelligent Design 101 (Kregel), edited by H. Wayne House. Eight contributors (including Michael Behe, Phillip Johnson and J.P. Moreland) discuss the concepts that drive the Intelligent Design movement and make the case for ID as a credible view of cosmic beginnings. If all you know about ID is what you’ve read in newspapers, this book should find a place on your reading list.



In When God Goes to Starbucks: A Guide to Everyday Apologetics (Baker), author Paul Copan takes on many of the theological and ethical questions asked by our friends and neighbors — believers and unbelievers — and provides helpful answers based on biblical truth. This is not only a good book to share with others, but a helpful resource in preaching and teaching preparation as we consider the issues being discussed today.

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


Lots of folks with New Year’s resolutions had joined a weight-loss group. At one meeting the instructor held up an apple and a candy bar. “What are the attributes of this apple,” she asked, “and how do they relate to our diet?”

“Low in calories” and “lots of fiber” were among the answers.

She then detailed what was wrong with eating candy, and concluded, “Apples not only are more healthful, but also less expensive. I paid 75 cents for this candy bar.”

From the back of the room a voice called out, “I’ll give you a dollar for it.”


1. Being a parent is like being pecked to death by a duck.

2. Raising teenagers is a lot like nailing Jell-O ® to a tree.

3. Money isn’t everything, but it sure keeps the kids in touch.

4. Your life’s “Golden Age” is the period in your life when your kids are too old to require a babysitter and too young to take the car.

5. Shouting at your children to get cooperation is about the same as steering your car using the horn … same results.

6. To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, one must be in their lives today.

7. The best advice regarding raising your children really is to enjoy them while they are still on your side.

8. Warm hearts, not cold words nor hot heads, best maintains a home’s temperature.

9. “The Joy of Motherhood” — What a woman experiences after she puts the last one to bed.

10. Any child can tell you the sole purpose of a middle name is so he or she can tell when they are really in trouble.

11. Your children may outgrow your lap but never your heart.

12. God gave you two ears and only one mouth so you may listen twice as much as you speak.

13. The only true child experts are those who do not yet have any of their own.

14. Cleaning house with the children at home is a lot like snow-blowing during a blizzard.

15. There are only two things your child is absolutely willing to share: communicable diseases and their mother’s age.

16. Why is it we can’t get a child to read the Bible at home, but when in prison they will!

17. Remember this? “When you grow up and have children of your own, I hope they are just like you!” It worked.

18. How come your dad never had money for the ice cream man, but after a visit with Grandpa your kids “jingle”?

19. True genetics have nothing to do with hair and eye color. It’s the occurrence of such things as, “Who said life was fair?” and “Because I said so!” when you promised you’d never use those words on your kids.

20. “Practice what you preach” even covers never letting them see you snag those Ding Dongs for breakfast. (from The Good, Clean Funnies List)

He’ll soon be the number two guy in the land, but that doesn’t mean he gets any respect.

According to a Jan. 5 post at Delaware Online, VP-elect Joe Biden and his wife tried to go to the movies, but couldn’t get tickets — and apparently only a few employees recognized him:

“Employees at the Regal Brandywine Cinemas say the vice president-elect and his wife, Jill, tried to attend the 7:45 showing of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button at the theater on Concord Pike but left after they were told the movie was sold out. There’s been no confirmation from the Biden camp, but the theater employees say they are sure it was him.

“Inshirah Muhamut, an associate manager, said she closed her box-office line when she saw what appeared to be a Secret Service agent coming her way. The man asked her about tickets for the movie, which stars Brad Pitt, then left.

“Remarkably, none of the other movie goers appeared to take notice. Employees said nobody mobbed Biden or called his name or asked for an autograph.

“‘It didn’t seem many people recognized him,’ said employee Becky Gingrich, 21. ‘Honestly, I think people were just too wrapped up in themselves to notice.’

“Note to the VP: Yes Man is still on in theatres.”

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