From the Editor:

Meet and Greet


Why Pastors Are Terminated
Root Innovation in Mission


Kids, Fathers

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

"Thankfulness is the soil in which joy thrives."


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    Vol. 8, No. 26 July 14 , 2009    

Michael Duduit

I love meeting readers of Preaching magazine and Preaching Now.

Last week I was in Dallas as part of the program for the E.K. Bailey International Conference on Expository Preaching, a wonderful event that annually draws some 700 African-American pastors for a week of great preaching and continuing education.

Everywhere I went, people came up to me and shared that they enjoyed reading the magazine or were regular readers of this newsletter. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been doing this nearly 25 years–its still fun to hear!

So if you and I end up at the same meeting, I hope you’ll tell me you enjoy this newsletter or the magazine. And if we aren’t at the same meeting, you just need to tell some other pastors about it!

Michael Duduit, Editor

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

On this week’s Preaching Podcast: This week’s podcast features Ralph Douglas West, pastor of The Church Without Walls in Houston, Texas. Listen here.


Bob Sheffield wrote a series of articles for the Pastors Today newsletter, based on LifeWay’s 2006 Forced Termination Survey. The five top reasons pastors are removed from their positions in a local church:

#5 – The church was already in conflict when the pastor arrived.
#4 – The pastor’s leadership style is too strong.

#3 – The pastor has poor people skills.
#2 – The church is resistant to change (and the pastor’s leadership style may make change more difficult).

#1 – Control issues over who runs the church.

(Click here to go to a page with links to all five articles.)


In his most recent Serious Times newsletter, James Emery White talks about a series of steps the Church of England is taking to try to connect to contemporary culture. He then observes: "Does the Church of England know why they are doing these things? This is not only a pressing question for the Archbishop, but for every church leader as they grapple with mission, strategy, and method in light of reaching out to an increasingly post-Christian culture. There is a myth that churches are successful because they do certain things; in truth, churches are successful because they know why they do certain things. In other words, there is a clear missional target on the wall.

"This is why the most effective churches lead the way for innovation, and those who borrow their innovations get frustrated when the church they copied drops what they copied for something even more innovative. 

"This is far from original with me. Bestselling business author Jim Collins, whose previous works Built to Last and Good to Great charted how the mighty rose, has recently come out with a book titled How the Mighty Fall. What perplexed his naturally curious mind was a simple but profound question: If you were in organizational decline, what would be the signs? What made the question more pressing was Collins’ early sense, later confirmed through his research, that decline is analogous to a disease, perhaps like a cancer, that can grow on the inside while you still look strong and healthy on the outside. He calls it ‘the silent creep of impending doom.’

"One of the earliest signs is companies saying, ‘We’re successful because we do these specific things,’ as opposed to the more penetrating understanding and insight: ‘We’re successful because we understand why we do these specific things and under what conditions they would not longer work.’

"This is the foundation for any and all innovation; otherwise you are simply gathering an assortment of tactics independent of a mission. Biblical fidelity is, hopefully, a given; but once you are confident you are working within those parameters, you must then determine why it is you do anything: What is the foundational nature of your mission? What are you trying to accomplish? Who are you trying to reach?

"If you know why you are doing something, you know whether it is effective and are quick to discard things that no longer work. If you are attempting to evangelize the unchurched, you are not attracted to any and all innovation, or even innovation that may reflect the culture of the unchurched; instead, you are after innovation that is effective at evangelizing the unchurched." (www.serioustimes.com)


In a scene from Shadowlands, a film based on the life of C.S. Lewis, Lewis has returned to Oxford from London, where he has just been married to Joy Gresham, an American woman, in a private Episcopal ceremony performed at her hospital bedside. She is dying from cancer and, through the struggle with her illness, she and Lewis have been discovering the depth of their love for each other. As Lewis arrives at the college where he teaches, he is met by Harry Harrington, an Episcopal priest, who asks what news there is. Lewis hesitates, then, deciding to speak of the marriage and not the cancer, he says, "Ah, good news, I think, Harry. Yes, good news."

Harrington, not aware of the marriage and thinking that Lewis is referring to Joy’s medical situation, replies, "I know how hard you’ve been praying… Now, God is answering your prayer."

"That’s not why I pray, Harry," Lewis responds. "I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God; it changes me." (Thomas G. Long, Whispering the Lyrics)


A few years ago the psychology department of Duke University carried out an interesting experiment. They wanted to see how long rats could swim. In one container they placed a rat for whom there was no possibility of escape. He swam a few moments and then ducked his head to drown. In the other container they made the hope of escape a possibility for the rat. The rat swam for several hours before finally giving up.

The conclusion of the experiment was just the opposite of our common conclusion. We usually say, "As long as there is life, there is hope." The Duke experiment proved, "As long as there is hope, there is life." (Brett Blair, www.eSermons.com)

From the July-August issue of Preaching …

In an article on "The Amazing Disappearing Cross," Bill Fleming writes, "Moralism, cultural comment, self-help and entertainment have a place in preaching; but that place should be behind the cross — not in front of it. When we major in minors — poof! — the cross disappears. …

"For example, there was that lovely Mother’s Day sermon, ‘What Your Mother Wants You to Know.’ It went over well. Everyone loves it when you talk about mothers, but this was not a Christian sermon. It was not even biblical.  

"Then there was that series on ‘The Leadership Secrets of Moses.’ Dr. Haddon Robinson once remarked about a similar series by another preacher, that if we want to really follow Moses’ leadership path, we should kill an Egyptian and bury him in the desert! It was not Moses’ perseverance or genius that made him a leader; it was his moral bankruptcy changed into graceful obedience by the mercy of God. Only when Moses received the grace of God was he ready to be used as a leader.

"Moralistic sermons are easy and popular. But if all we do is hand out moral advice, how will our people ever keep it? It takes a life transformation to live by the moral standards of Jesus. That transformation can only come through the cross."


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
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Also in the July-August issue of Preaching: "Safety in the Sanctuary," "The Curious Case of the Illusive Illustration," an interview with Michael Quicke and much more. Order your subscription today!

The Desiring God Web site has posted audio files from all the presentations at the recent Advance09 conference, featuring John Piper, Marc Driscoll, Bryan Chapell, Ed Stetzer, J.D. Greear, Danny Akin and more. You can listen online or download for later. Set aside a few hours and listen — it will be like attending a great conference in your own study. Here’s the link.

"Give thanks part of the time and live thanks the rest of the time."

Any place you go these days, you’re likely to hear people talking with great concern about financial issues — and the church is no exception. A helpful resource in this area for church leaders is Ministry and Money: A Practical Guide for Pastors (Westminster John Knox) by Janet and Philip Jamieson. She’s an accounting professor, and a he’s a professor of pastoral theology; and between them they have provided a very useful tool for pastors. They deal with a theology of money, then offer a series of chapters on practical issues such as church financial management, money in the pastor’s life, and so on. You’ll find much of help here.


Context is everything, they say, and that’s certainly true in understanding and interpreting biblical texts. As part of a new six-part series called "Ancient Context, Ancient Faith" for Zondervan, Gary Burge has written two recently released books: Jesus, the Middle Eastern Storyteller and The Bible and the Land. These small volumes are packed with insights for preaching and teaching drawn from ancient culture and geography.



The Preacher as Storyteller (B&H) discusses the power of narrative in the pulpit and offers useful counsel for preachers in using story more effectively. Written by Austin Tucker, a frequent contributor to Preaching magazine, the book will be a helpful resource for preaching ministers.

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


One particular Sunday morning, the visual aid for the children’s sermon was a smoke detector. The pastor asked the children if anyone knew what it meant when an alarm sounded from the smoke detector.

One 8-year-old boy immediately raised his hand and said, "It means Daddy’s cooking dinner."



~ If man evolved from apes, why do we still have apes?

~ I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman where the "self-help" section was. She said if she told me it would defeat the purpose.

~ And whose cruel idea was it to put an "S" in the word lisp?

~ If someone with multiple personalities threatens suicide, is it considered a hostage situation?

~ Is there another word for synonym?

~ Isn’t it scary that doctors call what they do practice?

~ Where do forest rangers go to get away from it all?

~ What should you do if you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?

~ Would a wingless fly be called a walk?

~ Is it true that cannibals won’t eat clowns because they taste funny?

~ Why do they put Braille on the drive-through bank machines?

~ Why did kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

~ What was the best thing BEFORE sliced bread?

When will people understand the meaning of that word emergency?

Not soon enough, in the case of 23-year-old Jeremy Martin, who called 9-1-1 dispatchers in his Oregon community several times to report that a McDonald’s worker had failed to fill his order correctly.

According to a June 28 story in The Oregonian, he insisted that he gave the worker $10 but got only one burger and fries in return. Although warned not to call again, he did so several times and insisted he would sue unless a policeman showed up.

Jeremy got his wish and was arrested for improper use of the 9-1-1- system.

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