Craft & Character

Religion & Spirituality Podcas

As a preacher, are you just transferring information or speaking from a transformed place? No one can preach God’s Word well without first being personally transformed by it.


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As a preacher, are you just transferring information or speaking from a transformed place? No one can preach God’s Word well without first being personally transformed by it.




Developing a Preacher's Hermeneutic with Joe Grana

In this special episode, Steve Carter talks to one of his mentors, Dr. Joe Grana, a longtime professor and dean at Hope International University, and currently a teaching pastor at The Refinery Christian Church in Arizona. Dr. Grana explains the importance of hermeneutics (the process of interpreting Scripture) and how it rescues teachers from the highly subjective “reader’s response” approach to Bible study. Rather than shoehorning a passage into what we think it means, preachers can...


Preaching with No Regrets with Steve Sonderman

“Ministry to men is on their time, their turf, and their agenda.” Steve Sonderman first heard those words from a mentor, and after pastoring at Elmbrook Church in Wisconsin for 34 years, serving as a chaplain for the Milwaukee Brewers, and launching No Regrets Men’s Ministry, he’s spent over three decades equipping the church to effectively disciple men. He currently serves as the president of No Regrets full-time, and this year marks the 30-year anniversary of the organization’s annual...


Preaching on Mission with Jordan Gustafson + Andrew Richards

What topic is on every page of the Bible? The answer is MISSION: God’s heart to seek and save those who are not yet a part of his family. This mission is not just something we read about in Scripture一it’s happening right now, and you can be a part of it! In this final episode of 2022, Steve Carter, along with his friends at Food For the Hungry (FH), ask you to donate to the severe famine impacting 36 million people in Africa. Every 36 seconds, someone will die from hunger-related causes. As...


The Preaching Funnel with Jarrett Stevens

Most communicators know the agony of staring at scattered notes, wondering how to shape them into a compelling message. Enter Jarrett Stevens, lead pastor Soul City Church in Chicago, who has spent 25 years honing his writing and outline process into what he now affectionately calls the “funnel of love.” Rather than a predictable formula, the funnel is like a trellis, undergirding messages with a thoughtful structure, while also letting them thrive in the freedom of the Spirit. Steve Carter...


How to Preach Advent Like Never Before with Vanessa Stricker

For a lot of people, the holidays are physically frenetic, emotionally overwhelming, and spiritually distracting. Few slow down long enough to ponder what’s happening in their own souls, or to give more than a passing thought to the significance of this season: God coming to earth. That’s why Steve Carter is excited to introduce you to an incredible Advent devotional, written by his good friend Vanessa Stricker, who is the Pastor of Peacemaking and Justice at One Life City Church in...


Preaching to a Divided Nation with Paul A. Hoffman

The 2022 midterm elections, like most political events in our age, will undoubtedly spark new fires of division in our country一not only in the nation at large, but sadly, within the church. Enter Paul A. Hoffman, the lead pastor of Evangelical Friends Church in Newport, Rhode Island, and co-author of a new book: Preaching To A Divided Nation: A Seven-Step Model for Promoting Reconciliation and Unity. Steve Carter asks Paul to walk through the seven crucial steps every Christian can take to...


How Every Preacher Must Fan the Flame with Jim Cymbala

In his new book, Fan the Flame: Let Jesus Renew Your Calling and Revive Your Church, Jim Cymbala distills the Spirit-fueled, Bible-saturated ethos of his 50+ years in ministry. As Steve Carter affectionately quips, "Jim is like a firehose of passion and wisdom." In this episode, Jim explains why Acts 20 is the “spiritual selfie” every pastor should aspire to. He pushes back against the church growth movement一which is consumeristic in its mission and methods一instead imploring pastors to...


The Essential Preaching Frequencies with Erwin McManus

Erwin McManus has spent decades honing his skill as a communicator, at Mosaic (the church he founded in Hollywood, CA), at conferences around the world, and in living rooms filled with a handful of friends. Wherever he goes一even in places where he doesn’t speak the native language一he’s able to communicate in a profound way. Why? Erwin explains to Steve Carter that it’s all about “frequencies,” a concept he unpacks in his recent MasterClass titled “The Art of Communication.” Frequencies are...


The Preacher's Checklist with Luke Norsworthy

This episode is packed with insights from Luke Norsworthy, pastor of Westover Hills Church in Austin, Texas, and author of God Over Good and Befriending Your Monsters. His conversation with Steve Carter meanders through all sorts of topics: How to put yourself into sermons without being narcissistic. Why Luke uses a checkmark system to track sermon writing progress. How the sobering but hope-filled journey of an Afghan family is shaping Luke’s church. How Luke receives sermon feedback before...


Help Is Here with Max Lucado

“I can’t do another meeting. I don’t want to preach another sermon. Lord, help me!” Two years into his pastorate, Max Lucado offered this prayer as a last-ditch effort to stay in ministry. God answered him, and now decades later, he’s written a new book that offers hope and wisdom to others feeling burned out and wiped out. The book is called Help Is Here: Finding Fresh Strength and Purpose in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Like all of Max’s writing, this book masterfully tills the hardened...


The Best of You with Alison Cook

In Christian circles, thinking about yourself is often labeled selfish. Psychologist and theologian Dr. Alison Cook pushes back on this assumption, explaining why caring for yourself is actually the best way to care for others. It’s the oxygen mask principle you always see in airplane safety videos: Put on your own mask so you can assist those around you. With jolting clarity, Dr. Cook debunks the narratives we use to justify self-neglect: We tell ourselves it’s all about them, but actually...


Learnings from Seminary with Preaching Today’s Biblical Preaching Award Winners

In this episode, Steve Carter chops it up with four recipients of the 2022 Preaching Today Biblical Preaching Award: Ryan Roach (Western Seminary, Portland, OR), Abby Stuckle (George W. Truett Seminary, Baylor, TX), Rachel Koch (Denver Seminary, Denver, CO), and Christian Schmitt (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Hamilton, MA). This award is given on the basis of faithful biblical exposition, clear and simple structure, creativity, pastoral application to daily life, and urgency in...


The Required Humility with Steve Carter

In this special episode of Craft and Character, Steve Carter shares why humility is the key to growing as a preacher一a reflection sparked by a conversation he had with Nancy Beach. Communicators give many reasons for neglecting their own development, but as 1 Timothy 4:14-15 reveals, honing our craft is a matter of stewardship, not just excellence. Steve gives three practical ways to embrace humility and grow as a preacher: Development Coaching Feedback This is a timely reminder that, to...


Digital Hygiene with Jay Kim

Like many of us, Jay Kim often feels that involuntary urge to reach for his phone. As the lead pastor at Westgate Church in San Jose, CA, he knows firsthand that modern people crave guidance for using devices well. Jay’s new book, Analog Christian, explains how Christians can respond to the values of the digital world一not by abandoning technology一but by faithfully stewarding it. Jay also shares with Steve Carter some valuable leadership practices, like pausing email while he’s on vacation,...


The Heart of Preparation with Ken Shigematsu

“Ken, if the ship sinks now, everyone will blame you.” It wasn’t the ideal pep talk for a pastor in his first few days on the job, especially at a church that had gone through 20 pastors in 20 years. But when someone spoke those words to Ken Shigematsu, he stuck it out. 25 years later, he’s still leading Tenth Church in Vancouver, Canada. Steve Carter asks about his sermon prep process, and Ken explains how a tidbit from preaching legend Haddon Robinson transformed his method from...


Speaking to the Soul with Jeanne Stevens

The modern world is a relentless waterfall of information一sound bytes and images flood our minds and trouble our hearts. Enter Jeanne Stevens, whose recent book, What’s Here Now?, unpacks the power of presence and how it offers peace so many ache for in our frenzied age. Steve Carter asks Jeanne to unpack her book’s punchy tagline: How to stop rehashing the past, and rehearsing the future, and start receiving the present. Presence begins with an awareness of your body, emotions, and...


Make the Good News Your Life's Work with Nick Hall

Nick Hall’s mission is to raise up the next generation of evangelists. In our anxiety-filled age, Nick boldly models how the gospel offers the exact hope and comfort the world craves. His voice is prophetically challenging一pointing out the ease with which apathy creeps into the church. But he’s also relentlessly hopeful that God is stirring the next generation to share Jesus and transform the world. Steve Carter talks with Nick about the upcoming Together ‘22 conference, which seeks to...


A Church Worth Fighting For with Nancy Beach and Samantha Beach Kiley

In this episode, Steve Carter interviews Nancy Beach and her daughter Samantha Beach Kiley一two women humbly modeling what it looks like to lead the church in a skeptical age. They are both pastors, leaders, and champions of the local church. Steve unpacks a recent sermon Samantha delivered at Church on Morgan in Raleigh, NC and the way she writes her messages with such verbal precision. Nancy and Samantha love the local church and they spend time unpacking how they would debrief moments in a...


Starting with Scripture with Annie F. Downs

Annie F. Downs hosts a podcast called That Sounds Fun一a title which captures the contagious joy emanating from everything she does. Her content travels the globe through speaking tours, books, and podcasts, but her most cherished role is serving on the teaching team at Cross Point Church in Nashville. Her rootedness in this local community keeps her grounded, accountable, and reflects her heart to prioritize people over platform. For any communicator who struggles against the time clock, or...


Speaking by the Numbers with Sean Palmer

Ever deliver a message—from the pulpit or in a meeting—that excited some but bored others? Why is the response in the room a mixed bag? Sean Palmer, teaching pastor at Ecclesia in Houston, TX, shares an Enneagram-informed strategy that helps him answer the one question plaguing communicators: How do I reach my entire audience? Sean explains to Steve Carter, how every person has three intelligence centers: thinking, feeling, and doing. We need to understand the demographic of our people to...