From the Editor:

Generation Gap


Common Themes in Struggling Churches
The Sermon as Worship



Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

"Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
(Thomas Edison)


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    Vol. 8, No. 30 August 25, 2009    

Michael Duduit

It’s been some years since I heard the term "generation gap" in conversation, but the annual Beloit College Mindset List reminds us that each new generation has its perspective shaped by its own experiences.

Most students entering college for the first time this fall were born in 1991. The list for the Class of 2013 has just been released. Here are a few of the items:

~ For these students, Martha Graham, Pan American Airways, Michael Landon, Dr. Seuss, Miles Davis, The Dallas Times Herald, Gene Roddenberry and Freddie Mercury have always been dead.
~ The Green Giant has always been Shrek — not the big guy picking vegetables.
~ They have never used a card catalog to find a book.
~ Margaret Thatcher has always been a former prime minister.
~ Salsa has always outsold ketchup.
~ Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible.
~ Rap music has always been mainstream.
~ Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream has always been a flavor choice.
~ Babies have always had a Social Security Number.
~ They have never had to "shake down" an oral thermometer.
~ Bungee jumping has always been socially acceptable.
~ They have never understood the meaning of R.S.V.P.

You’ll find more of the list near the end of this issue. Take this opportunity to pray for all those young men and women entering college this year — that they will remain strong in their faith while in school and that those who don’t know Christ will encounter a faithful Christian witness while in college.

And while you’re at it, pastor, why not commit to sending an encouraging note to every young person in your church who has just left for college? It’ll mean a lot to them to find it in that campus mailbox!

Michael Duduit, Editor

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

On this week’s Preaching Podcast: George Barna talks about his new book The Seven Faith Tribes, and why preachers need to understand who is sitting in the pews — and who isn’t (and why).


In an article for the Church Central site, Thom Rainer — now President of LifeWay Christian Resources — talks about his experiences working with some 500 churches as a consultant. He learned that many churches have four challenges in common:

"First, our consultations focused much attention on matters of leadership. We found that many church leaders were in trouble because of poor leadership skills and poor interpersonal skills. Most of these leaders were well trained theologically and biblically, but they weren’t prepared to lead an organization or deal with people issues.

"Second, our team was often perplexed at the weak evangelistic endeavors of churches. It seemed in many congregations that the Great Commission was not taken seriously. It wasn’t that evangelistic efforts were done poorly; they weren’t done at all.

"Third, we saw that church leaders needed the eyes of an outsider. One of the most common components of our consultations was ‘the first-time guest.’ Someone on our team would make his or her first appearance at the church at a worship service. That person would note carefully everything from parking to greeters to the worship service to friendliness to the church facilities. We would then provide the church leadership with a first-time guest verbatim. That report alone proved to be one of the most helpful parts of our consultation. It was also one of the most surprising to many church leaders.

"Finally, we learned that pastors and other church leaders are often hurting. Sometimes the greatest assistance we could provide was a listening ear and the promise of prayer." (Click here to read the full article.)


In the book Preaching and Professing (Eerdmans), Baylor literature professor Ralph Wood writes: "The sermon is the center of most Protestant worship, our veritable sacrament, because there we encounter Christ himself in the heard Word. The Swiss Calvinists of the sixteenth century went so far as to declare (in the Second Helvitic Confession of 1566) that ‘the preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God.’ Thus the gospel is not only something to be preached, the gospel is preaching itself.

"This is a radical claim, but I think it is exactly Paul’s point. Fides ex auditu. ‘Faith cometh by hearing,’ we remember from the King James translation, ‘and hearing by the Word of God.’ …

"Christian worship that is centered on the proclamation of the gospel is not the safest but the most perilous activity of the week. The worship hour is the hour of great risk. Something splendid occurs when we come to hear the Word proclaimed, or else something terrible. When the Word is not preached, everything else fails; indeed, an awful sacrilege has occurred. Nothing can salvage a service that is void of true proclamation. Someone has described hell as a perpetual church service minus the presence of God. I would add that hell is an interminable sermon without the proclamation of the gospel." (Click here to learn more about the book Preaching and Professing.)


In his blog, Mike Glenn shares the following: "You don’t have to talk to me very long to understand I am an avid fan of college football. Most of the teams have reported back to begin practice, and we are days away from the first games! I can’t wait! But as intense as every Saturday promises to be, do you realize that most of the games are being won and lost right now — before they are even played? Who shows up in shape? Who was watching extra film? Who is most focused and determined in practice right now? People who study successful men and women always point out how intentional they are with their time and work. Every action today is done with tomorrow’s contest in mind — a contest they will be most prepared to win.

"I remind you all of the time that we have to ‘get ready’ because there will come a time when we will have to ‘be ready.’ The contest will begin, and the time for preparation will be over. We will win or lose by how prepared we are for the moment. We will face temptation. We know that moment is coming. What are you doing right now to get ready to resist that temptation? We know someone will ask you about your relationship with Jesus. What are you doing to get ready for that moment? Just as football games are won in practice, spiritual victories are won and lost in our preparation. The moment is coming…and what we are doing right now will determine how well we do." (Click here to visit Mike’s blog.)


In his Turning Point Daily Devotional for Aug. 21, David Jeremiah says: "There was a king who suffered much grief over his rebellious subjects. But one day a group of these rebels surrendered their arms, bowed at his feet, and begged him for mercy. He pardoned each one. One of the king’s friends later said to him, ‘Did you not say that every rebel should die?’ ‘Yes,’ said the king, ‘but I see no rebels here.’

"The Bible tells us, ‘There is none righteous, no not one,’ and we all deserve to die for that unrighteousness (Romans 3:10). But God, in His perfect mercy, chose to allow His Son to take our place and die for us so that when He looks at us, He no longer sees the sin; He only sees His precious Son, our Savior.

"As imperfect children of God, we can be very hard on ourselves when we make a mistake and sin or struggle with a particular issue. But let us take comfort in knowing that because of Jesus’ sacrifice, while we see our shortcomings, God sees the child He loves."

From the September-October issue of Preaching …

In his article "Leading from the Pulpit," Stan Toler talks about ways to lead through preaching. One of the steps, he says, is planning: "When it comes to feeding the flock, some sermons look like an explosion at the giant buffet restaurant — food is everywhere, but no one has an idea where to start looking! Sermon preparation is more than gathering online quotes to oppose pop-culture creeds; it is specifically planning a presentation of biblical principles. People have heard what others have said; what they want most is to hear from God.

"Suppose someone stopped me to ask for directions. If I knew how to get to that location I wouldn’t just point in a direction and say, ‘Oh yes, I know where that is — it’s over yonder; God bless you on your journey.’ No, I would tell him how to get there, road by road and turn by turn. Preaching is giving directions road by road and turn by turn.

"Not everyone who comes through the door of your church has a spiritual GPS. They may be familiar with the surroundings, but that doesn’t mean they have the presence of God guiding their lives. Your first concern is to lift up the name of Jesus Christ. Your second concern is to lead them into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Your next concern is to help them grow in their faith and find a place to practice that faith in Christian service.

"Platform-centered leadership needs to be planned. Leadership must be in your platform presentation on purpose — road by road and turn by turn. You can weave practical leadership principles into your weekly sermon, but first you need to map them out."

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Also in the September-October issue of Preaching: "What Would Jesus Tweet?" (on preaching and social networking sites), interviews with Mark Batterson and Jud Wilhite, Stan Toler on "Preaching and Leading," and much more. Order your subscription today!

Want to know what the apostle Paul looked like? No guarantees, but the Vatican has recently announced the discovery of a fourth-century portrait, according to the UK’s Times Online. The Times says, the oval portrait "had been found in the catacombs of St Thecla, not far from the Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls, where the apostle is buried." Click here to read more and see a copy of the portrait.

"Personally, I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught."
(Winston Churchill)

In her book In the Beginning, God (IVP), Marva Dawn revisits the first three chapters of Genesis and focuses on how this text is primarily about worship and the glory of God. When we understand what God has done, Dawn asserts, it will lead to anew understanding of Christian service, justice, and caring for His creation.


More and more families are dealing with the ravages produced by Alzheimer’s disease. Pat Otwell, who has ministered to such families for two decades, shares her insights with fellow ministers in her book Guide to Ministering to Alzheimer’s Patients and Their Families (Routledge). This book is packed with practical guidance and helpful ideas and resources.



There’s an old sea story in the Navy about a ship’s captain who inspected his sailors, and afterward told the chief boson that his men smelled bad.

The captain suggested perhaps it would help if the sailors would change underwear occasionally.

The chief responded, "Aye, aye sir, I’ll see to it immediately!"

The chief went straight to the sailors’ berth deck and announced, "The captain thinks you guys smell bad and wants you to change your underwear. Pittman, you change with Jones, McCarthy, you change with Kwiatkowski, and Brown you change with Schultz. Now get to it!!"

THE MORAL: Just because someone promises change, there’s no guarantee things will smell any better!



Most students entering college for the first time this fall were born in 1991. Here are some additional items from this year’s list:

~ McDonald’s has always been serving Happy Meals in China.
~ Condoms have always been advertised on television.
~ Cable television systems have always offered telephone service and vice versa.
~ Bobby Cox has always managed the Atlanta Braves.
~ Desperate smokers have always been able to turn to Nicoderm skin patches.
~ Their folks could always reach for a Zoloft.
~ They have always been able to read books on an electronic screen.
~ Women have always outnumbered men in college.
~ We have always watched wars, coups and police arrests unfold on television in real time.
~ Amateur radio operators have never needed to know Morse code.
~ Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Latvia, Georgia, Lithuania and Estonia have always been independent nations.
~There have always been flat-screen televisions.
~ Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on.
~ Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations.
~ They have never been Saved by the Bell
~ Most communities have always had a mega-church.
~ The status of gays in the military has always been a topic of political debate.
~ There has always been a computer in the Oval Office.
~ Migration of once independent media like radio, TV, videos and compact discs to the computer has never amazed them.
~ Nobody has ever responded to "Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up."
~ There has always been blue Jell-O.

(Copyright © 2009 Beloit College; click here to visit their site and read the entire list.)

Sometimes technology can be tricky.

Take, for example, the man in San Leandro, Calif., who tried to trick someone into buying a "flat-screen TV" that was actually an oven door.

According to an Aug 11 UPI story, "police said they pulled the man over because of an anonymous call from someone who said a man tried to sell him a TV for $100 out of his car in a Wal-Mart parking lot and gave police a description of the man’s beige 1980 Oldsmobile Cutlass."

When police pulled the man over last week, "officers noticed a box for a brand-new, 37-inch Sony TV in his car. But all they found inside the box was a glass oven door disguised as a television."

The 52-year-old man now faces a charge of driving on a suspended license. No other charges were filed.

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