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Grab Your Hearers Attention with Tension

For our fifth and final episode of Season 2 we sit down with Yancey Arrington, pastor in Houston, TX. Yancey is the master of creating tension in his sermons. That way he never loses the attention of his hearers. To illustrate this more practically we walk through Yancey’s sermon prep for his sermon “Hope in the Present” from Psalm 46. Yancey is very passionate about this topic and it completely comes through in this episode. We hope you can take some of the ideas he talks about and apply...


Sermons for the Skeptical Heart

In this episode we sit down with Jeremy McKeen, pastor in West Palm Beach, FL. Jeremy does a great job reaching the skeptic in his preaching. So we discussed his sermon prep for his sermon “Building Up Your Faith” based on Hebrews 2:1-4. He also shares a fun story about having a preacher of great prominence show up one Sunday morning and listen to him preach. You will have to listen to the podcast to find out who this person was! If you would like to read the sermon discussed in this podcast...


Sunday Preaching for the Monday Christian

In our third episode we sit down with Patricia Batten. Patricia is a pastor, Ranked Adjunct Assistant Professor of Preaching, and the Associate Director of the Haddon W. Robinson Center for Preaching at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. We discuss her sermon prep leading up to the delivery of her sermon “God Takes Sin Seriously” based on 2 Samuel 24. But we also dig a little deeper into the impact Haddon Robinson had on her early in her calling as a pastor, but also at the end of Haddon’s...


How the Preacher-Pastor Crafts Their Sermons

In this episode we sit down with a long time contributor to Preaching Today, Lee Eclov. Lee is pastor in Lake Forest, IL. Let’s just say when Matt Woodley and Lee Eclov sit down to talk preaching it is a lot of fun. Lee has a pastor’s heart and shares from his bountiful wisdom, but this is one of the more winsome episodes this season. So sit back and enjoy two preachers talking preaching. If you would like to read the sermon discussed in this podcast you can find it here:...


Preaching Truth No One Wants to Hear ... But Should

Welcome back to Monday Morning Preacher. For this second season we are going to change things up a bit. We are going to sit down with one preacher in each episode and go behind the scenes of their sermon prep for a recent sermon they preached. In this first episode we go behind the scenes with Geoff Chang, pastor in Portland, Oregon, and discuss his sermon “What Is Success?” A sad event happened in the community of Portland while Geoff was prepping for this sermon. It came out that some...


Preaching Through Weakness

Some great preachers really know how to meddle. They get under my skin by subverting my comfortable ideas about "successful preaching." The 20th century preacher John Stott was definitely one of those subverters. Did you know that Stott seemed to have a favorite Bible passage for the craft of preaching? It was 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, the Apostle Paul's near-celebration of his weakness as a preacher. As Stott wryly noted, "Weakness would not be an accurate description of many evangelical...


Biblical Meditation and Preaching

How do you get the biblical text off the page, into your own heart and mind, and then into the lives of your people? Veteran preacher Robert J. Morgan, teaching pastor at the Donaldson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee, calls us back to the ancient and "lost art" of biblical meditation. Sure, meditation takes time and effort, but in the long run it actually saves time as the Scriptural big idea and structure become clear through pondering on the text's logic, flow, and emphasis. In this...


Preaching Jesus at Street Level

By the time I get up to preach I've been living in the biblical text all week. Word studies, cultural background, theological implications, exegetical insights; I have a truckload of stuff to share about the text. But here's the problem: my people have not been living in the text. Pastor Daniel Fusco, Lead Pastor at Crossroads Community Church, calls it "Bible nerd land." But most of our people, even our Bible-reading, Bible-loving people do not live there. So how do we bring Jesus to our...


Why and How to Avoid Moralistic Preaching

Preaching should stir people to do something, believe something, change something, be something. It should move people to action, heroic deeds, or repentance. In short, lives should change—even if we can't always see it. But here's one of my constant struggles in my preaching: how do I challenge people to grow, love, change, obey, repent, give, etc., without throwing them back on their own pathetic spiritual resources? That is the danger of moralistic preaching. It sounds good (and some...


Manuscript vs. Notes

What do you bring into the pulpit when you preach? A complete manuscript, some notes, or no notes? I've always assumed this was one of those technical and trivial issues for geeky preachers. But when my friend Kevin Miller and I started exploring this as a topic for our Monday Morning Preacher podcast, we were struck by how emotional a lot of preachers get about this question. And it really matters. What you bring into the pulpit (manuscript, notes, or no notes) can affect how you connect...


The Life Cycle of Your Sermon

After preaching for 25 years here's one surprising lesson: God wants to transform my soul through the sermon prep process. Pastor Peter Scazzero, formerly the senior pastor of New Life Church in Queens, New York, calls this process "The Life Cycle of the Sermon." It's a cycle that follows a familiar pattern: birth (you get the sermon idea), death (you struggle to put the sermon together), burial (it gets even worse), resurrection (you preach it), ascension (you leave your sermon in God's...


Get The Text Right

At some point in our weekly sermon prep process we need to slow down, put aside our agenda or preconceived notions, and listen to what God is saying through his Word. How do you do that every week? Of course illustrations and applications are important. But how and when in the process do you take time to get the text right? That’s what we unpack in this episode.


The Basics of Sermon Delivery (Part 2)

In this episode, ummmmm, we take a look at, ummmmmm, three important parts of sermon delivery, ummmmm: Movement, Gestures, and, ummmmm, Filler Words. Okay, as you can see filler words can become a little annoying for our hearers. You were probably annoyed with only the four above. But it isn't only filler words that can cause our hearers to be distracted in our preaching. That is why we are also talking about some tips for using movement and gestures to further your delivery. Also, in case...


The High Calling of Preaching: Lessons from Haddon Robinson

I was about 22 and a new believer when a tall, odd-looking preacher came to my new home church in Edina, Minnesota. They said his name was Haddon Robinson. I can’t remember what he preached on. I just remembered how he preached—with authority and yet tenderness, with eloquence and yet relevance. Haddon had gravitas in the pulpit. He spoke to my heart and my mind. And because he believed and felt what he said in that sermon, my heart was stirred by God’s Word that day. Who has influenced you...


The Basics of Sermon Delivery (Part 1)

I think a lot of us preachers have picked up some bad sermon "delivery habits." Of course I'm a huge proponent of finding your unique preaching voice, but then again, that doesn't excuse my poor, untrained delivery mechanisms, including things like volume, speed, pitch, gestures, facial expressions, and filler words. For instance, when I go off script, I tend to say "you know" a lot. It gets annoying for my hearers. As one of my beloved mentors, Dr. Haddon Robinson (who passed away a few...


Avoiding Preaching Ruts

For a decade I used to write complete sermon manuscripts, which has one huge plus—I can easily review my preaching trends. About six years ago I noticed I didn’t have a few “trends,” I had some preaching ruts. Every outline, every conclusion, every application in my sermons started to have the same look and tone and focus. How about you? Do you have any preaching ruts? Do you allow every genre of Scripture and every text within that genre to have a fresh structure? Do you preach through “the...


Outlining Your Sermon

A friend of mine once described a young preacher this way: "He has some great ideas but they aren't organized. It's like he offers people a bunch of pearls without the string." My friend was talking about how to structure your sermon. The string is your big idea—your central theme based on your text. The pearls are how you line up what you want to say about your big idea. Here's a crucial rule for preachers: some structure is better than no structure. And here's a corollary: a simple...


Finding Illustrations

In this episode, we feature a very fun topic—how to find illustrations. Where do you go for quality ways to make the abstract truths concrete? (See also our podcast on "The Ladder of Abstraction.") Where can you start cultivating your own repertoire of good stories, quotes, stats, etc., that will help make your ideas pop? In about 12 minutes you'll find some great ideas for these questions.


The Cutting Room Floor

Here are the typical five stages of my weekly sermon prep process: STAGE 1: Wow, I have a great Bible text and big idea. I could preach about this forever. STAGE 2: Oh, no! What can I possibly say about this subject to fill up the 30-minute sermon time? STAGE 3: I have so much material I could talk for 90 minutes. It’s all so good. STAGE 5: Preach the sermon. You noticed I skipped STAGE 4. That’s one of the hardest parts of preaching—knowing what to cut. Filmmakers call it “the cutting room...


Reaching Those Far From God

Almost every preacher has heard the phrase “spiritual but not religious.” It describes the rise of the Nones, folks without a religious affiliation. Some preachers think this trend is a disaster or a chore. Maybe, but Dave Ferguson, co-author of "Finding Your Way Back to God," calls this reality a massive opportunity to reach people through preaching. In this week’s episode we talk to Dave about how preachers can speak to people who are far from God.