From the Editor:

Divinely Appointed to Serve

Economy Is Pinching Pastors
Are Churches Mugged by Change?

Evangelism, Missions

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“Obstacles are the things we see when we take our eyes off our goals.”
Zig Ziglar

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    Vol. 8, No. 34 September 22, 2009    
Michael Duduit

Have you ever marveled at the opportunities God gives you? I sometimes stand in awe at the things God has allowed me to do–opportunities for which I know I was totally undeserving. What a joy it is to recognize God’s grace at work in your life and ministry.

This Friday, I’ll have the privilege of being with the wonderful folks at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto to present their annual preaching lectureship. This will be my first such event in Canada, so I hope lots of Canadian Preaching Now readers will come by to say hello.

Michael Duduit, Editor

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

On this week’s Preaching Podcast: Perry Noble talks about the amazing growth of NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C., and about his own approach to planning and preaching. Listen here.


A recent national survey of pastors and church staff shows the compensation package paid to the average pastor–including salary, housing allowance or parsonage, life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, continuing education allowances and retirement–has declined in 2009 by 2.4 percent for lead pastors to an average of $70,806. The average for senior pastors who lead multiple pastoral staff declined .5 percent to $80,745. The average for solo pastors was down 6.6 percent to $56,189, which means solo pastors lost more than $300 per month in salary and benefits. In 2008, pastors received a slight bump up in salaries.

The decline, in part, was caused by wage freezes in many congregations. About half of lead pastors reported they received no salary increase in the previous year (53 percent of senior pastors and 51 percent of solo pastors). Other staff noted the same limitations. Only 50 percent of secretaries/administrators and 38 percent of musicians and accompanists received an increase last year. (from Pastors Weekly Briefing, 9-18-09. www.parsonage.org)


Gary Hamel, a management guru recently spoke at Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit, then wrote about it on his Wall Street Journal blog. Among his comments: “As church leaders, you shouldn’t feel too sorry for yourselves. Your problem isn’t unique, and it isn’t materialism, atheism, skepticism or relativism–it’s institutional inertia. And if it makes you feel better, it’s not entirely your fault. Like leaders everywhere, you’ve been mugged by change.

“After 13.4 billion years, the pace of change has gone hypercritical–at least on this planet. We didn’t ask for this, but we have to deal with it. Today we live in a world that seems to be all punctuation and no equilibrium, where the future is less and less an extrapolation of the past. And our conservative, hierarchical organizations aren’t up to the challenge–they’re simply not adaptable enough.

“In this environment, you’re either going forward or backward–but you’re never standing still–and at the moment, a lot of organizations, churches included, are going backward.

“The Second Law of Thermodynamics applies to organizations, as well physical systems. Over time, visions become strategies, strategies get codified into policies, policies spawn practices and practices become habits. That’s organizational entropy–and it’s why success is usually a self-correcting phenomenon. And it’s also why the hard thing–the really hard thing–isn’t inventing a brilliant strategy, but reinventing it!

“Given all of this, the most critical advantage a church (or any other organization) can build is an ‘evolutionary advantage’–an ability to constantly morph and adapt. Sadly, it usually takes a crisis to set an organization on a new path…

“Over the centuries, religion has become institutionalized, and in the process encrusted with elaborate hierarchies, top-heavy bureaucracies, highly specialized roles and reflexive routines. Religion won’t regain its relevance until church leaders chip off these calcified layers, rediscover their sense of mission and set themselves free to reinvent ‘church’ for a new age.

“Doing this is going to take a management revolution. Back in the first century, the Christian church was organic, communal and mostly free of ritual–and it needs to become so again–as does every organization, public or private, large or small.” (Click here to read the full article.)


In a recent Turning Point Daily Devotional (9-18-09), David Jeremiah writes: “Fears of a global flu pandemic have rekindled memories of the terrible 1918 epidemic in which a virulent strain of influenza infected a third of the world’s population and killed an estimated 50 to 100 million people. Some researchers believe the flu spread so quickly that year because of soldiers who, already weakened from fatigue, were traveling across national and geographical boundaries during the waning months of World War I.

“Studying the communicable effects of disease teaches us something about spiritual illness, too. Spiritual viruses and emotional maladies spread person to person just like germs and viruses. According to Proverbs 15:18, angry people spread their anger wherever they go. The words influenza and influence, after all, come from the same root word.

But the cure spreads person-to-person, too! We can reverse the anger of those around us by staying cool and calm, gentle and patient. Whatever our emotions–joy, anger, depression, anxiety–they infect those near us. This is one of the Christian’s great secrets. When we’re filled with the calming strength of the Spirit, we can improve whatever environment we find ourselves in.”


A Mercedes-Benz TV commercial shows one of its cars colliding with a concrete wall during a safety test. Someone then asks a Mercedes engineer why the company does not enforce its patent on their car’s energy-absorbing car body. The Mercedes’ design has been copied by almost every other car maker in the world in spite of the fact that it has an exclusive patent.

The engineer replies in a clipped German accent, “Because in life, some things are just too important not to share.”

King Duncan observes, “Some things are just too important not to share. As Christians, we believe the good news of Jesus Christ is one of those things that is too important not to share. No, that is an understatement. We believe Jesus Christ must be shared with our friends, our neighbors, the world. The work of sharing the news of Jesus Christ we call evangelism. The Christian faith has been advanced through the ages by people who were willing to take upon themselves the responsibility of being evangelists–those who spread the good news of Christ.”  (King Duncan, Collected Sermons)

From the September-October issue of Preaching …

In an interview with pastor Mark Batterson, he talks about how they plan preaching series: “We do series the entire year. Occasionally in between–just to take a little bit of a creative breather–we’ll do a buffer Sunday. Sometimes we’ll call it PBJ Sunday, peanut butter and jelly. We’ll kind of strip it down, not a whole lot of creativity. We’ll often celebrate communion those weekends and do kind of a back-to-basics message, but by and large it’s sermon series.

“We do a staff retreat in November and we begin strategizing our sermon series for the next year. By the time we’re done with that meeting, we will have a rough strategy of those series that we’re going to do throughout the next year.

“By the way, this might be really kind of a helpful tip: We do an annual survey every year before that retreat, and one of things I do in that survey is pitch a dozen sermon series ideas to our congregation and say, ‘Which one of these series would be most helpful to your spiritual growth?’ We track those numbers–the ones that come back with a very high percentage; it’s a pretty good bet that we’re going to do those series. Then, interestingly enough, the ones that come back very low–in other words, the series that people don’t want to hear–those series often will end up making the cut, too; because we’re wondering, ‘Why don’t you want to hear about this?'”

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 begin your subscription!


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!

Saddleback Church recently hosted the first Ahmanson Lectures on Faith & Science, featuring a variety of outstanding speakers, including Norman Geisler, William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, Darrell Bock and others. You can watch or listen to them here.

“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.”
–Brian Tracy

Roger Olson’s latest book, God in Dispute: Conversations Among Great Christian Thinkers (Baker Academic), is a delightful look at the history of Christian thought by way of a series of imaginary dialogues between key Christian thinkers. (Imagine Origen and Tertullian debating the nature of God, or John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards discussing salvation.) Readers will enjoy learning more about the history of Christian theology in this creative volume.


Speaking of church history, R. Ward Holder has written Crisis and Renewal: The Era of the Reformations (Westminster John Knox), the latest volume in the Westminster History of Christian Thought series. This book serves as an introduction to the remarkable people, ideas and events that shaped the church in the 16th century.


Speaking of theology, Old Testament Theology: A Thematic Approach (InterVarsity Press) by Robin Routledge is a useful introduction to the key themes of the Old Testament, including such ideas as the nature of God, creation, covenant and so on. Preachers will find much to chew on without being overwhelming or overly academic in presentation.

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


I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven’s door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp-
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.

Herb, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, “What’s the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How’d all these sinners get up here?
God must’ve made a mistake.

“And why’s everyone so quiet,
So somber–give me a clue.”
” Hush, child,” He said, “they’re all in shock.
At the thought of seeing you.” (from Mikey’s Funnies)



Physical exercise is good for you, but it’s hard work. As an alternative, here are some strenuous activities that do not require physical exercise. You may become quite good at them:
Beating around the bush
Jumping to conclusions
Climbing the walls
Swallowing your pride
Passing the buck
Dragging your heels
Pushing your luck
Making mountains out of molehills
Hitting the nail on the head
Bending over backwards
Jumping on the bandwagon
Balancing the books
Running around in circles
Climbing the ladder of success
Pulling out all the stops
Adding fuel to the fire
Putting your foot in your mouth
Start the ball rolling
Going over the edge
Picking up the pieces

Sometimes even a mistake turns out OK.

A deputy sheriff in Elizabethton, Tenn., was responding to a domestic disturbance call. Unfortunately, he knocked on the door of the wrong house.

According to a Sept. 15 AP story, “a 33-year-old man invited him in. Then, the man put his hands behind his back for handcuffing and told Barnett he was ready to go to jail, saying he had an outstanding arrest warrant. The man later appeared in court and was sentenced to 40 days.”

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