Leadership Obstacles and the Coronavirus

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It is difficult for me to express just how sick of talking and hearing about the Novel Coronavirus (COVID -19), I am. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not sick of it just because of the toll that it has taken on people around the world, but I am sick of it because of the unique challenges it has presented in leadership. As I am trying to be faithful in leadership, I needed to think through these unique leadership challenges. The following are some obstacles that have made leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic even more difficult.

Lack of Research – Leadership is more difficult during this time because of the novelty of the virus itself. COVID-19 is new and with little research, it has become difficult to make wise decisions. There are many researchers working very hard to understand this virus and for that I am very grateful. Serving one of the oldest populations in the nation, the cost of decision making is very high. New information is coming everyday with some later information contradicting what was understood earlier. The newness of the virus and the subsequent lack of understanding has made decision making far less certain.

 Refusal to Adjust to a New Normal – Things have changed. The pandemic has forced many out of their leadership box and things are not going back in that box for a longtime, if ever. Many are just waiting for the day for things to “get back to normal”. Well, this virus may be the defining event of this decade. This will be the event that people talk about for years to come. Waiting around for things to return to the past may require a time machine to accomplish. Trying to function today like nothing has changed can result in disaster. Things have changed. We are moving to a new normal. No one has ever led under these circumstances before; be a part of the solution not the problem. No one really knows what the new “normal” is going to look like. When things get dangerous, you must slowdown and be more cautious. A leader cannot recreate the past but he can lead others to the future.

 Refusal to Understand that not all Decisions and Decision Makers are Equal – All decision making, and all decision makers are not equal. Some methodically examine the available data and then decide. Other leaders make quick decisions from their gut. The process by which decision makers come to their outcomes may be radically different and end with totally different decisions. The formation of a leader is unique to that leader. As a result, his bias or guiding principles will affect his decision-making methods. Different variables may lead to different outcomes in decisions. Just because a decision has been made does not make it right or wrong it just means a decision has been made. This virus has placed more high stakes variables before more leaders and they are making decisions, but not all decisions or decision makers are equal.

 Equating Opinions with Knowledge – Just as all decisions are not equal, neither are all opinions. Social media has provided a platform for opinions to be shared with more people than ever before. Rarely is social media a platform for experts to share their educated, thoughtful, research backed advice. I know of no researcher who has taken to social media to share his findings. In fact, the popular level of social media and news sites are often more like junk food for the brain than they are a place to disseminate serious information. Maybe its because people have had more time on their hands, but more opinions are being shared backed with less knowledge about viruses and the transmission of disease than in anytime in recent memory. Leaders are forced to navigate the world of opinions and actual knowledge, and that has become treacherous. Continue reading “Leadership Obstacles and the Coronavirus”

Religious Liberty and COVID-19

The unprecedented times of COVID-19 have brought about unprecedented steps that have radically changed life as we know it, maybe forever. This Easter churches will not gather in person. Understand, church’s gathering on Sunday is one of the earliest evidences of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is only a resurrection from the dead that could transform faithful Jews from the observance of the Sabbath to worshipping on Sunday, the Lord’s Day. This virus has changed things.

The changes brought by the virus have prompted the United States Government, particularly state governments, to act to protect the people of their states. These acts of protection have brought to the forefront, across America, the issue of religious liberty. It was to the Danbury Baptist Association, in which Thomas Jefferson first wrote of the idea of the separation between church and state. It wasn’t Jefferson’s idea, but truth be told, the separation of church and state has been a Baptist idea all along. In the most concise way, even in America, Baptists have always stood against state churches and that government should not have any say in the happenings of churches. It was a Baptist preacher who founded the first colonial settlement with no official religion. Roger Williams also founded the first Baptist Church in America. So, for anyone in government to order that churches cannot gather in person to worship goes against everything that I believe and against an entire history of the Free Church. I will render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and will render to God that which is God’s. I will submit to the minister of my government that God has placed over me insofar as it does not contradict what I find in Scripture.

Before I go on, I want to make it clear, that along with the leadership of my church, I willfully made the choice to discontinue gathering in person to worship before many others did. In fact, I was an early advocate for the discontinuing of in person worship gatherings. My family and I have been on near total lockdown for weeks. We disinfect our mail. We disinfect our groceries. We wear masks on the very limited times we venture out. We are taking this virus very seriously. I believe that we all should take this very seriously. Continue reading “Religious Liberty and COVID-19”

Innovation for Hope: Ministering in a Rapidly Changing World

Today has been a day unlike any that I have ever experienced in ministry. It has been a day of challenges, innovation and encouragement. I have spent much of this day learning anew how to minister to the people to which I have been called. If ever there was a day that I’ve had to throw-out the ministry playbook and find another way forward, it was today.

Bound Together by the Gospel

If you are church folk who read this, rest assured there is a whole group of pastors out there who are committed to make this unprecedented season of ministry work, and I had the privilege of talking with them today. I called many pastors from across the Commonwealth in order to discover some ministerial best practices during the Coronavirus. All of them had a deep desire to keep their flock safe and spiritually fed. Every pastor who I spoke with today was taught how to minister the old, traditional way, by coming in contact with people, and ministering God’s Word to them. But what happens when you remove that ministry of presence? What happens when that central roll of being with people is removed? Leadership is what happens. The old adage is, ‘leaders find a way to win.’ That’s just what these guys are doing, they are finding a new way forward. Why? Because the church of Jesus Christ is about more than a building and a gathering of people, its about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ—the gospel. We are bound together through the gospel and because of that we meet. It is not our meeting that binds us together. So, in the midst of unprecedented obstacles, these leaders, these pastors, these brothers are finding innovative ways forward.

Innovation and Ministry

Innovation and Baptist preacher are rarely synonymous. One of my mentors always tells me, “In a Baptist church, whatever you do, do it right the first time because you’re going to be doing in that way for the next hundred years.” Even that adage is changing, we are changing. We are innovating, because we are drawn together as a church, a family of believers because of the gospel.

Pastors are finding new ways to minister to their folks. They are exploring multiple means of technology. They are intensifying and personalizing their connections within their flocks. They are being careful not to leave anyone behind. Children through senior adults are being ministered to in creative ways during this time. Those who aren’t technologically adept are not being left-out. They are getting others involved. They are not trying to carry this burden alone but are utilizing staff and have younger members to reach-out and minster.

Encouragement

One of the most encouraging things that has come out of these trying times is the number of younger people who have stepped forward, willing to minister to those in need. This has enabled churches to minister to the most vulnerable like never before. Churches are seeking to serve their communities and open their facilities like never before.

Continue reading “Innovation for Hope: Ministering in a Rapidly Changing World”

Decisions Have Consequences

When the initial news of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) hit the United States, few came to grips with the seriousness of the situation. The speed of the virus and the implications of the virus with closings and cancelations is astonishing. It is still difficult for me to realize that in such a short time we have gone from purchasing a few extra bottles of hand sanitizer to moving our Sunday Morning Worship Service online. Wow! There are theological and gospel statements being made when the church gathers on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day—Sunday. Christians all around the world risk their lives just to gather with other believers on the Lord’s Day. So, when we made the decision to move our service online, it wasn’t a decision that was made lightly. In fact, I spent more time compiling information in reference to COVID-19 than for any other decision to cancel any service in the history of my ministry. Yet, I am confident that the right decision has been made.

The Consequence of Decisions

We made the decision to move our Morning Worship Service online because we wanted to protect the flock of Rose Hill Baptist Church. There is ample evidence that COVID-19 has the most destructive and deadly impact on those who are elderly and those with underlying health problems. It has been my experience that when there are obstacles in coming to church (health, weather, etc.) the younger, healthier people stay away and the older, more fragile people come. Simply put, the people who could be devastated most by the virus are those who will attend no matter what. As the Under-shepherd of Rose Hill Baptist Church, along with our Deacons and staff we have a responsibility to protect the flock that has been entrusted to us. We believe that we have a responsibility to the flock and a responsibility to the community.

Continue reading “Decisions Have Consequences”

Coronavirus, Data and Decisions

This is an unprecedented time for our generation.  Leadership and decision for the future do not come easily. The following is my attempt to compose the latest relevant information about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) for the purpose of decision making. My point is not to advise you medically but rather to comprise data to help me serve the people of Rose Hill Baptist Church more faithfully.

Coronavirus

There are many who believe that Lysol and the disinfectant companies knew about the Coronavirus, so all of this is game to benefit Big Lysol. That’s right, we are being controlled by Big Toilet Paper and Big Lysol.  The truth of the matter is there are many different kinds of Coronaviruses and evidently most of us have had them at some point in our life. These viruses are not new. COVID-19 is different, it was only first discovered recently in the outbreak in Wuhan, China. It is airborne and it spreads when an individual comes in contact with those who are infected. The symptoms are fever of 100.4 or higher, cough and shortness of breath.  At the time of this writing there are approximately 1,200 cases in the United States and 36 deaths which is about 3% mortality rate in general. It takes between 2 to 14 days to show symptoms, but on average a person shows symptoms within 5 days.

Blown Out of Proportion

There has been much commentary on the current state of affairs and how we should respond from physicians and even religious leaders. What cannot be ignored is the rapid state of change with this virus. What may have been true a week, a day or even an hour ago may not be true now and what is true now may not be true in the future. It is without question a remarkable commentary on the state of affairs that the NCAA Tournaments have been canceled. The NBA has canceled their season, a decision to be reassessed in 30 days. The University of Kentucky, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Marshall University, The Ohio State University, West Virginia University, and many others have discontinued their face-to-face classes for the semester. Even NASCAR, whose events are all held outside, has announced that they will not admit spectators to the next two races in which at least one is in the heart of NASCAR country, Atlanta. This is happening just as NASCAR was beginning to win back their fans after years of low attendance.  Since I originally wrote this post there has been a big change, both Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and those other parks have closed, this is unprecedented.  The Governor of Ohio has closed schools for three weeks and banned, you read that correctly, banned gatherings of people with more than 100 in attendance.  Although there is an exemption for religious gatherings, the principal for the safety of such gatherings remains the same.  Finally, even the Governor of Kentucky recommended that public and private schools in Kentucky cancel classes for at least the next two weeks and encouraged churches not to meet but utilize other means of worship.

You may criticize these actions but what is it that you know that they don’t know that makes these decisions an overreaction? I tend to believe, and hope it to be true, that a Governor has access to more information than does the average person and that he is leading on more than a gut feeling.

Being Politicized

Many are questioning if all of this is being used to whip people into a frenzy. Maybe. It is true that the President of the United States has used this as an opportunity to attack his opponents. The President’s opponents have used this as an opportunity contrast their leadership to the President’s. It may be that both the President, his opponents and even the news media are using this to work people up, the reality of COVID-19 doesn’t change. We must consider thoughtfully and carefully the information that we receive and make the best decisions that we can at the time they need to be made. You can only make decisions with the information that you have at the time

Stopping the Spread

Why would such responses be taken? COVID-19 is spread through touching a surface that has the virus on it or breathing in the germ when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The virus is most contagious when the infected person is showing symptoms but it seems there is a possibility with COVID-19 that a person can become infected by someone who has the virus but is not showing symptoms. The virus can remain in the air for 3 hours and live on some surfaces for days. The earliest research seems to indicate that COVID-19 is ten times more deadly than the flu with the highest mortality rate among the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

There are real reasons for so many closings. First, closures adds distance between you and the infected person. You are less likely to inhale the germs of the infected with distance. This distance has been proven to reduce the transmission rate of disease by 35%. Second, closure reduces the chances of you being infected or unknowingly infecting others. It is possible for you to carry the virus and be asymptomatic and you could unknowingly transmit COVID-19 to someone who may not respond to the virus as well as you.  There are some who believe that children are somehow immune to COVID-19, but the evidence doesn’t back that up. There have been no deaths of children under the age of 10 worldwide. Otherwise, it seems that what is true for adults is true for children. I would like to note that children can also be asymptomatic and yet transmit COVID-19.  Third, COVID-19 has been declared a Pandemic which means that it is outside of the measures that health care can handle in some places. Doctors in Italy are being forced to place only those with the greatest chance of survival in ICU. The social distance added by closure decreases the chance of transmitting the virus but also serves to protect the most vulnerable and pastoring in a region that has one of the oldest population in the nation, this must be taken into consideration. Remember, it is the oldest attenders of our churches that are often the most faithful. If church is open, those who would most likely not be greatly affected by the virus may stay home but those who could be most deeply impacted are often those with the deepest convictions to come.  Finally, if we are not thoughtful and careful in the way that we handle COVID-19, your church as a lighthouse of the gospel could possibly become a conduit of COVID-19.  There are multiple cases of the virus that have their connects in in religious gatherings.

What to do

As I stated from the outset, I wrote this as a means to more faithfully serve the people of Rose Hill Baptist Church. Governor Andy Beshear has been criticized deeply for even daring to suggest that churches not meet or to meet via the internet. The reality is regardless of my political perspective, he is God’s minister to me for my good (Romans 13:4). Practically, the man in Kentucky who should have the most information about the situation as it stands concerning COVID-19 encouraged schools, churches and other large gatherings not to meet. I do not begrudge him, but rather am grateful for God’s ministry to us, through him to protect us.

After compiling this information, I believe that those who would blindly march forward without taking some kinds of precautions to protect those they serve are reckless. As the Under-shepherd of Rose Hill Baptist Church, I have a great desire to lead those entrusted to me with faithfulness. I have a very deep conviction that the church is proclaiming a very clear message when it meets on Sunday. I believe that we must care for and minister to people in this trying time, safely.

When those earliest Jewish converts went from strict observance of the Sabbath to worshipping on Sunday, it was because Jesus Christ had risen from the grave. When the church meets on Sunday, that meeting shouts to the world, “He is risen!”

We must consider the close confines of some meeting spaces and the demographics of some services. We cannot live our lives in fear but rather faith, knowing that God’s love casts out fear. Our trust must be in God and not men, but neither can we be blind to those God has placed around us as His minister of good to us. We must carry-out those proven practices that keep us from spreading disease, protecting one another and ourselves, while faithfully proclaiming His resurrection. We must be faithful but not reckless. You are not being unfaithful to God because you have chosen to protect your family. You are not being unfaithful because you have made the temporary choice to limit that social interaction of you and your family.

I think the comment of a pastor and leader for which I have great respect is a helpful place to end. Dr. Hershael York writes, “It’s nice to have the luxury of an opinion with no consequences. It costs you nothing if it’s wrong. Leadership, however, comes with a price tag and decisions have real ramifications.” The days ahead really are uncharted territory for this current generation. Carful and prayerful leadership is necessary.

Religious Liberty, Uighur Muslims and You.

The issue of religious liberty is an issue of concern for us all. If a person or group is singled-out or mistreated because of their religion, then any other group can be singled-out as well. Fundamental religious freedom is a bulwark of what it means to be free in the United States of America. The persecution of a peoples because of their ethnicity and religion is a fundamental offense on basic human rights and any culture with a conscience cannot be silent. Those who do not voice their opposition to the mistreatment of others, will eventually have no one to speak for them when they are mistreated.

Right now, China is believed to be detaining around a million Uighur Muslims in camps in Xinjiang. This detention is said to be China’s fight against Islamic extremism. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned China’s treatment of the Uighurs earlier in the year. Yesterday, December 5, 2019, the United States House of Representatives voted almost unanimously to pass the Uighur Act of 2019. This Act condemns gross human rights violations linked to Beijing’s crackdown on the Uighurs. The bill also encourages President Trump to sanction Chinese officials who are said to be behind the actions taken against the Uighurs.

As a resident of the Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District, it is the “almost” in the support for the Uighur Act that is concerning to me. Congressman Thomas Massie is the lone Nay vote against the Act. It is the Congressman’s rational in voting against this Act that is most concerning to me. He voiced his reasoning on his Twitter account. His reasoning can be summarized in two points: The United States should mind our own business and we must not endanger our relationship with China unless we are willing to forfeit our use of the products they produce.

His reasoning is horrifying to me. First, his ideology lends itself to the same mindset that has enabled countless atrocities around the world. If we claim at any level to be moral people, we cannot be silent when we see such injustices. As a Christian, if I want religious freedom for Christianity, I must defend it for other religions. Second, as a resident of the congressional district that Massie represents, I find any references from him about economic issues almost laughable. Eastern Kentucky is an economically depressed area and to my knowledge he has done nothing to help spur economic change to the area he represents. The greater issue is his reasoning which puts a price on human rights. We can never be so beholden to our conveniences that we cannot protect the rights of our fellow humans.

Would you be willing to express your concern and opposition to Congressman Massie, his Nay vote, and his reasoning? Would you contact his Washington, DC office? (202) 225-3465

Serving Those Who Serve

A hero is a label that gets thrown around often but is appropriate for those who willingly put themselves into harm’s way. These are people who serve to protect their countrymen. Even in the subtleties, these are not men of retreat. The American flag on their right shoulder is leading—stars first, it is pressing forward, if necessary into battle. These are people who willingly enlist in wartime, these are men and women who come to the aid of their country. Here are some ways that we can serve them:

Honor Their Service by the Way You Live

The soldier and the citizen are in a partnership. The seven basic values of the United States Army are: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. One soldier said in reference to these values, “If I represent the nation, the nation should embody those characteristics.” Since the solider represents the nation, and he lives by these values, the nation should also strive for these values. A soldier swears an oath to protect the Constitution, the ideals of our nation, therefore, every citizen has a responsibility to honor that partnership with his life.

Be Proactive in Reaching-Out

When a service member is deployed, he or she leaves behind a family and familiarity. Don’t just be willing to help, do something to help. When that soldier deploys, there are jobs at home that still need to be completed. Ask family members specific jobs that need done. Offer free childcare. Responsibilities may drastically change during deployment. A spouse may need help in home management responsibilities. Ask and pray for specific needs, and follow-up with family. Be willing to listen as family members share. You don’t have to have the answers to listen.

Reach-out to the soldier. Deployment can take a soldier to an unfamiliar place, communication from home connects him to something familiar. Send a care package and fill it with the soldier’s favorite items, especially those things that are unique to his community. Have your small group or Sunday School class adopt a soldier and make a specific effort to care for his or her family, maintain regular contact and specifically pray for the soldier. One soldier said, “Soldiers and spouses both tend to have idealistic images of what life after deployment is going to be like.” A church small group or Sunday School class can help in the transition home by being willing to pro-actively help with meals, childcare and routine home maintenance.

Listen

Coming home from deployment can require major adjustment, be willing to listen. The soldier may or may not want to share his experiences, be a real friend and listen without prying. Paul writes, “Bear one another’s burdens and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2). The places and those involved may be mostly foreign to you, submit yourself to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and be a friend who listens.

Express Sincere Gratitude

Three service members were interviewed in preparing this article. These men had served as both enlisted and officers. These men had served in combat in multiple wars, and yet all of them were reluctant to even be recognized for the part that they played in protecting the United States of America. When a soldier returns home from foreign soil, he is changed. As one of those interview said, “I’m not a broken individual, but I interpret society much differently.” A soldier makes it possible for the United States government to fulfill its God ordained role in protecting its citizens, honor their service with sincere gratitude.

Bully as Leader

The word, “bullying” takes me back to the childhood idiom, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Although a way to help children to not get bogged down by the hurtful comments of others, the lesson of that idiom never really seemed true. Bullying hurt as a child and it hurts even more as an adult. In a culture that is more connected than ever, bullying seems to be more prevalent than ever. Bullying could once be avoided simply by going home now is unavoidable because of the interconnectedness of social media. In their Resolution on Bullying Among Children and Youth, the American Psychological Association, summarizes bullying as, “commonly characterized as aggressive behavior that (a) is intended to cause distress or harm, (b) involves an imbalance of power or strength between the aggressor and the victim, and (c) commonly occurs repeatedly over time.” This short summarization reveals the root contradiction of a bully as a leader.

A bully is one who has power over the one being bullied. A bully uses his power in order to victimize others. A bully leverages his imbalance of power to force his will upon another. A leader is in a place of influence. A leader holds her place of influence as a steward, existing for the benefit of others. A leader recognizes that her agenda is accomplished through the willful participation and contribution of others. A leader knows that which is to be accomplished is for the benefit of all. The way a bully and a leader functions is almost directly opposite.

How a Bully Functions

   As already stated, a bully depends on his position of power in order to do harm and exert his will upon another. Sandra Harris and Garth F. Petrie write, “Not all bullying is obvious, as hitting or verbal teasing are. Sometimes bullying is subtle, such as consistently excluding victims from groups and activities. This type of bullying is particularly insidious, because often victims do not realize that they are being bullied.” A bully uses his position to accomplish his will and to exclude and victimize anyone in his way.

The power of a bully is also seen in his peer popularity. A bully knows how to work the crowd to garner their goodwill, this is how they often gain the approval and even endorsement of those with even more influence. A bully uses his place of influence, which itself is attracting, to garner the participation of others. Others attracted by the popularity of the bully, and not wanting to be victimized, only make the imbalance of power greater. Others become complicit in the actions of the bully before they even know it, and this demonstrates its “insidious” nature. The bully will subtly and at times not so subtly destroy another all in the watchful eye of onlookers. A bully uses others to make himself even more powerful.

How a Leader Functions

   A leader also has a position of power, but a leader recognizes that position as a stewardship. James MacGregor Burns writes, “Instead of exerting power over people, transforming leaders champion and inspire followers.” A leader recognizes the importance of the willful participation of others. A genuine leader does not view people as merely a commodity to accomplish his will but as someone of value who also will benefit from the better future achieved through their participation.

Leadership is accomplished not through viewing people as a commodity or a means to an end but is accomplished through relationship. James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner write, “Success in leading will be wholly dependent upon the capacity to build and sustain their human relationships that enable people to get extraordinary things done on a regular basis.” Leadership comes through wielding the influence of inspiration for the benefit others not by the pressure of one. It is the ongoing depth in relationship that fuels the participation of others.

Leadership is carried out for the benefit of others. Kouzes and Posner write of a leader, “They connect others to what is most meaningful in a shared vision. They lift people to higher levels of motivation and morality, and continuously reinforce that they can make a difference in the world.” A leader does not subvert morality but rather works from morality and raises others to a higher level of morality. A leader doesn’t use people, but builds people for the benefit of all.

Conclusion

   Bullying and leadership could not be more different. The distinction between the two are essentially important in being a healthy leader, follower, and in having a healthy organization. Accomplishments can take place with a bully at the helm, but this is often at the detriment of others and ultimately the organization. Leadership requires time for relationships to be built and skill to help others benefit in moving together, but it is wroth the effort.

Things I Learned by Preaching Through a Long Book of the Bible

I found these notes on my phone that I had jotted down after completed preaching through a longer book of the Bible. As a Pastor, it is my calling, to the best of my ability to teach the Bible in order to equip those entrusted to my care. It’s difficult to prepare people when they become bored with the subject matter. This is going to be a natural challenge even to the best preacher. The following points are a few things that I learned from preaching through the book of Acts:

⁃ God inspired the writing of books, even long ones for a reason. The book of Acts isn’t just the first history book of the church but it also, at length, addresses her purpose and displays that purpose in action.

⁃ Somewhere there is an intersection between the attention of men and women and your ability to hold that attention on a given subject. I don’t always do this well. There were certain sections that I needed to summarize in order to move forward at a pace that kept this balance.

⁃ As much as it was a disciple for me to preach through a long book, it is also a disciple for people to listen through a long book. I believe God grew me as a preacher as we moved through Acts and I believe He grew those whom I serve as I preached through Acts.

⁃ It was helpful to periodically take breaks from the series. This enabled me to address pressing needs of our church and allow both the church and myself to return to the series with renewed interest.

⁃ I still struggle with preaching long passages. I was not able to address many details in the text, but that’s ok. It’s ok, not because the details don’t matter but because someday, I will return to the text. Also, as I grow, as the congregation grows, I will understand and the church will understand the text more deeply.

⁃ I am more confident than ever that the Chief Shepherd shepherds His sheep through the expositional preaching of His Word. I am the Under Shepherd. I don’t have all of the answers to life’s problems or the wisdom to lead His flock but He does and He is so kind and faithful to tend to His flock.

⁃ Different genres of Scripture require a different approach in preparation and preaching. Acts is largely Narrative by which God reveals historical events and God reveals Himself. In Narrative broader strokes are often required as opposed to Epistles which require at times greater attention to details such as literary devices and language.

– The acts of the Holy Spirit as He moved the gospel to the nations through the church is the story of Acts. Although there is a constant tension in Principle-izing the text in application, the story given by the Holy Spirit is that given by God through the text not man-centered, self-help principles.

Even as I look over these lessons, I recognize that they reflect my inadequacies as a preacher. I hope that if you are a preacher reading these lessons that you find them helpful in your own growth. If you are reading these lessons as one who has listened as I preached through the book of Acts, I hope that it helped you in your walk with the Lord and thank you for your graciousness as I learn to serve you and ultimately the Lord more faithfully.

Sermon Prep Fundamentals

I have had classes on preaching.  I have preached now for more than 20 years and I am still trying to become a better preacher.  I have also found that almost no two preachers prepare the same way.  I am not sure there is a right or wrong way to prepare a sermon, but I do believe the fundamentals of preparation must be the same.  I think that the pattern of a faithful sermon is demonstrated in Scripture.  A faithful sermon must explain the text, apply the text to the listener, and point the listener to Jesus.  There are many who merely deliver religious speeches, but if the pattern is ignored it cannot be qualified as a sermon. Continue reading “Sermon Prep Fundamentals”

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