From the Editor:

Moving Toward Home

Why Preaching Is Essential
Pastors Can’t Do it All

Stewardship, Treasure
Sin, Temptation
Shock, Surprise

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“It is only the fear of God that can deliver us from the fear of man.”
(John Witherspoon)

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    Vol. 8, No. 7 February 17 , 2009    
Michael Duduit

Even as preachers, we struggle with the issue of pain and suffering.

In the most recent issue of his Key Life magazine, Steve Brown (one of our original contributing editors of Preaching) notes that we live in a world shattered by suffering, but reminds us those who love Christ are only passing through a temporary venue on the way to a more permanent home. He writes:

“You’re not Home yet. Try and remember that fact. Before you get there, you may have to suffer, so that the world can see the difference.

“One of my students, Bill Chapman, has a daughter, Siarah. When she was 5, Siarah said that heaven will be a place ‘where you will never throw up, never have to brush your teeth, never get sick, live in a beautiful castle, see lots of pretty flowers, and no one will ever take your toys away.'”

Let’s keep moving toward home … and keep inviting folks to join us there.

Michael Duduit, Editor

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

This week’s Preaching Podcast: An interview with Michael Horton, Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California and author of the new book Christless Christianity. Click here to listen.


In his new book, Christless Christianity (Baker), Michael Horton writes: “Preaching is central, not because we value the intellect to the exclusion of the emotions and the will, because it is God’s action rather than our own. The God who accomplished our salvation now delivers it to us. So the argument that an emphasis on preaching tilts toward intellectualism is wide of the mark.

“The real issue is not whether we give priority to a particular human faculty (intellect, will or emotion) but whether we give priority to God’s action over ours. In preaching, we are addressed–we are not in charge but are seated to be judged and justified. In baptism, too, we are passive receivers–we do not baptize ourselves but are baptized. In the Lord’s Supper, Christ gives Himself to us as our food and drink for eternal life; it is a banquet set for us–the meal already has been prepared, and Christ even serves it to us through His ministers. We are fed; our filthy rags removed, we are bathed and clothed with Christ and fed for our pilgrimage to the City of God.”


A church that depends upon its pastor for ministry fails both the pastor and the laypeople, ministry strategist Alan Nelson recently told participants at The Next Big Idea conference at Baylor University.

Nelson is founder of KidLead, a leadership training program for children ages 10 to 13, and author of Me to We, a book on equipping laity for ministry.

On any given weekend, only 20 percent of Americans attend church, and that percentage is expected to be cut in half by 2050, Nelson said. Less than 15 percent of U.S. churches are growing, and less than 1 percent are growing because of evangelism.

On the local level, the pastor, staff and the “faithful few” are overworked, and as outreach become more difficult, spiritual maturity is lacking. The cause is what Nelson calls, “Pastor-Centric Ministry Syndrome”–extreme dependence upon pastors to do the work of the church.

The solution is for pastors to focus on equipping church members to do ministry, he said. To illustrate, he reported that, in healthy churches, 93 percent of members are “mobilized in some form of ministry service,” while the number drops to 11 percent in unhealthy congregations. “The Bible teaches ministry in context of togetherness,” with pastors and laity serving alongside each other, he said. (Associated Baptist Press, 2-13-09; click here to read the full story.)


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.


During the Civil War, a man with a large amount of money in gold coins lived near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. When Union forces entered the area in 1862, he was afraid they’d take his money, so he buried it in a field near his farm. He made notes of the exact location of the treasure, using trees and rocks as markers. But the occupying Union soldiers cut down trees for firewood and gathered rocks to form chimneys for their barracks and fire pits. When the war ended, the man returned; but everything was different, and he was unable to locate his fortune. He spent the rest of his life trying to find the lost coins.

David Jeremiah writes: “We’re to be wise stewards, laying up for the future and providing for the needs of our families. But if we bury our treasures and invest ourselves too heavily in the things of earth, we end up losing everything. All we have belongs to the Savior; and when we invest our resources and energy in His Kingdom, we’re making investments with eternal dividends.” (Turning Point Daily Devotional, 1-16-09)


In his book, Death by Love: Letters from the Cross (Crossway), Marc Driscoll writes: “You can learn a basic principle of how your enemy works. The great Puritan Thomas Brooks wrote one of my favorite books on spiritual warfare, Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices. Brooks uses a wonderful illustration that explains why Jesus rejected Satan’s simple offer of bread.

“Brooks says our Enemy will bait our hook with anything we find desirable. This means he will gladly give us sex, money, power, pleasure, fame, fortune and relationships. Satan’s goal is for us to take the bait without seeing the hook, and once the hook is in our mouth he then reels us in to take us captive. His gifts are often very good things offered for sinful uses. He’ll challenge us to examine the gift to ensure its quality. That is the essence of the trap. The gift may be
good, but the giver is evil. In this way, Satan and demons are akin to a pedophile who seeks to entice children into trust with gifts of candy and toys, only to destroy them.

“When we take the gifts Satan and demons give, we are in essence biting down on the bait. As a result, the hook of sin is in our mouth, and Satan reels us in as his captive so that, as Jesus says in John 8:34, we become slaves to our sin.”

From the March-April issue of Preaching …

In a sermon called “A Church Where People Come to Know Christ,” Mike Glenn observes, “Growing up Baptist, I spent a lot of time in Acts 2. It’s all about the revival. It’s all about how many people come to know Christ. I have been in those meetings where 10, 15 and 20 people came to know Christ in a night. I’ve been in those meetings when as many as 50 made a decision. So it really wasn’t that difficult for me to think that given the right situation and the right expression, 3,000 people could respond in that moment. I’ve heard stories about thousands of people coming to the Lord in meetings in Korea and in Africa. So I kind of ‘got my head around that one.’

“What shocks me from this passage, and what I have thought about all week long was that last sentence–‘every day Jesus was bringing to the church those who had been saved.’ Every day. Who knew people could get saved on Thursday?

“You know, we have a lot of emergency policies in our church. We know what to do in case a fire breaks out. We go through training in case we face certain situations. I don’t know if we’ve had a training day to tell the staff what to do if somebody comes in on a week day and wants to get saved. I don’t know if we’ve had that plan or that policy. It would be so unusual for us, because all of us know people get saved on Sunday.

“We set aside an hour, and that’s when you can get saved. It’s kind of like a train appointment. It comes through town on Sunday from 11:00 to 12:00, and if you miss it you’ll just have to wait until the next time the train comes around. But every day–how did that happen?”

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 and much more. Order your subscription today!

Mark Batterson is the pastor of the innovative National Community Church in Washington, D.C., which meets in area movie theaters. He also writes a blog, Evotional, that is popular with many pastors and church leaders. You’ll find it here. You can also visit the church site and view Mark’s most recent message. (Click here for that site.)

The study of economy usually shows us that the best time for purchase was last year.” (Woody Allen)

The New Interpreter’s Handbook of Preaching (Abingdon) is an excellent new resource containing more than 200 articles on topics ranging from hermeneutical issues to components of the sermon. Contributors represent a wide range of denominational and theological perspectives, and the editors should be congratulated for intentionally including an assortment of evangelical voices. (By way of disclosure: I wrote three of the entries, but don’t let that discourage you.) This is likely to be one of those significant tools you’ll keep using for years to come.


This week’s Preaching Podcast is with Michael Horton, author of the new book, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (Baker). Writing from a strongly Reformed perspective, Horton argues that much of the American church has replaced theology with therapy and has opted for good advice over good news. His targets are wide-ranging–from emerging to fundamentalist–but any reader will find useful insights and a reminder of the need to keep the gospel at the center of our proclamation.


In Making Room for Leadership (InterVarsity), MaryKate Morse offers a unique spin on leadership by exploring the visual and non-verbal tools that can make us more effective leaders. Church leaders will find it to be a fresh and practical guide.

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


While waiting in line at the bank, Bob developed a very loud case of hiccups. By the time Bob reached the teller’s window, the hiccups seemed to have worsened. The teller took Bob’s check and proceeded to run a computer verification of his account. After a minute she looked up from her terminal with a frown and said that she would be unable to cash his check.

“Why not?” Bob asked incredulously.

“I’m sorry, sir,” she replied, “but our computer indicates that you do not have sufficient funds to cover this amount. As a matter of fact,” she continued, “our records show your account overdrawn in excess of $5,000.”

“It can’t be!” Bob cried. “You have to be kidding!”

“Yes, I am,” she answered with a smile, counting out his cash. “But you will notice that your hiccups are gone.”


Begin every message with the phrase, “You know what’s wrong with you people?”

Move business meetings to Sunday morning and open up the floor by asking, “So does anybody have a beef?”

Begin that year-long sermon series on the 40 weeks of Daniel.

Place a polygraph machine on the front pew to be used during invitation time.

Keep the Christmas pageant livestock in the church choir room year ’round.

If your auditorium slopes downward to the platform, give every kid under 12 a handful of marbles before the service.

Give deacons the ability to “gong” anyone singing special music.

Place the outdoor welcome center tent a few feet from the septic tank.

Put a blank for “weight” on the membership information forms.

In order to feel relevant, say, “You know,” or, “Dude,” 15 times from the pulpit each Sunday.

Have the organist play hockey cheers at pivotal moments of the sermon.

Before the offertory hymn, have the worship leader scream, “Show me the money!”

Charge tolls for the use of restrooms.

(by Matt Tullos as seen in The Good Stuff Newsletter. To subscribe, send a blank email here with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject line: mail to: Mark@TheGoodStuffNewsletter.com)

Coming to an Indian city near you: Cow Cola?

In order to counteract foreign influences, such as Coke and Pepsi, the Cow Protection Department of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)–India’s biggest and oldest Hindu nationalist group–is developing a beverage made from cow urine. According to a Feb. 11 story in The Times of London, the head of the RSS said the drink–called “gau jal” or “cow water”  in Sanskrit–was undergoing laboratory tests and would be launched “very soon, maybe by the end of this year.”

According to The Times report: “Hindus revere cows and slaughtering them is illegal in most of India. Cow dung is traditionally used as a fuel and disinfectant in villages, while cow urine and dung are often consumed in rituals to ‘purify’ those on the bottom rungs of the Hindu caste system.”

“Don’t worry, it won’t smell like urine and will be tasty, too,” the RSS official told The Times. “It’s going to be very healthy. It won’t be like carbonated drinks and would be devoid of any toxins.”

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