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The Three Key Components of a Solid Sermon

Me. Preaching.There are certain elements that must be included in every single sermon that we ever preach. They are non-negotiable. To put it another way, every sermon you preach has three key components…

The God Component

The “God component” is what sets preaching apart from other kinds of public speaking. We are God’s spokespeople. We preach His word, not ours. And as we consider the role of God in the sermon, we have to ask some pretty pertinent questions:

  • Have I recognized that God is the ultimate authority on the meaning of His word?
  • Have I consulted with the Author of the word in prayer?
  • Have I trusted the results of my preaching to the Spirit who moves among his people?
  • Have I made Jesus the central character of the sermon?

The Communicator Component

The component has to do with me, the preacher. I need to ask certain important questions about my own role in the preaching experience:

  • Have I live and embodied the word in my life? That is to say, have I been the incarnation of the message I hope to convey on Sunday morning?
  • Can I honestly say I’ve spent adequate time in preparation, so that my mind, heart, and soul are all immersed in the text and it’s meaning?
  • Am I humbled by the weight of the responsibility of being God’s spokesperson to people whose lives and eternities hang in the balance?
  • Have I been the same person at home and in my private life and in my various relationships that I plan on being in the pulpit when I am teaching on Sunday?
  • Am I prayed up?
  • Am I fired up?

[bcoxlike]

The Audience Component

The final component has to do with the people to whom I am preaching. My audience matters.

It sounds good, and makes a great soapbox issue to proclaim that preaching ought to be God-centered not man-centered. The fact is, Jesus himself would not be welcomed or accepted by some today in the world of preaching because he wouldn’t be considered scriptural enough. Jesus preached to the needs and the hearts of human beings with problems.

We have had plenty of arguments around the subject of whether or not we should preach to the felt needs of society. The problem with these arguments is often there is a failure to understand that felt needs are real needs that are felt. And Jesus spoke to those needs.

My audience matters so much to the heart of God, that He sent His only son Jesus to die on the cross for their redemption. I need to consider their needs if I hope to please the Author of the word. His intention for his message is that it convinces, converts, and changes the lives of its hearers.

I need to be asking questions about my audience as I am preparing the message:

  • Have I spent time with people, getting to know their hurts, habits, and hang-ups? Do I know what it is like to be human, to err, and to have messed up before a holy God?
  • Every text has not only a primary principle, but an implication for the everyday lives of human beings. Have I dug into the text deep enough, not only to discover what it says about God, but also it’s practical implications for the lives of people?
  • Have I prepared not only an explanation of the meaning of the text, but also at least one, if not several calls to action?
  • Am I willing and ready to ask people to change their lives entirely on the basis of what I am going to say? And will I do this with the authority that God has granted to me, and the humility that is calling should create in me?

 

The Basics of Blogging and Online Publishing

BloggingBlogging is such a weird word. We never used it until people started keeping “logs” on the “web” of their life called “weblog” and for some reason, we dropped the “we” and were left with the art of blogging. And in a sense, it has changed everything. How? Because now, everyone is a publisher.

Every business, every church, and every institution is now a publisher, and those who publish with the most gusto win. It’s the age where people with few connections and little resources can grow their voice in the marketplace in inexpensive and creative ways.

I’m writing this post for those who haven’t jumped in yet. I’d love to dialog about the latest developer’s beta version of WordPress or Google’s search algorithm, but my goal is instead to reach out to those who are on the verge of blogging and push you over the edge to take the dive. If you need to read no more, head over to WordPress or Tumblr and get started! If you’re still looking to rationalize your decision, read on…

Why Blog?

Still with me? Let me give you some reasons to jump in.

  1. Everybody is doing it. This is normally a stupid reason to do anything, but in this case, what I mean is that everybody is talking and conversing about everything, and your voice matters.
  2. It’s easy. There was a time when you needed to know html or write the code for your own blogging platform. Now, with a few clicks you can sign up and from your smartphone, you can blog.
  3. It’s cheap. In fact, it’s usually free, or costs peanuts, to get started.
  4. You can earn some income. Don’t plan on getting rich off of blogging. It’s been done before and will be done again, but don’t assume you’re going to be the next John Chow, who makes money online by telling people how to make money online. Most of the “six-figure bloggers” were in the game early, but you can still earn a bit of an income if you’re patient and consistent.
  5. You can expand your influence. Ideas change the world, and today, ideas are shaped by the conversation online.

In other words, this isn’t just for geeks and nerds anymore. It’s for you too (assuming you don’t fall into either of those categories).

What To Do

Convinced? With me? Good. Now what in the world are you going to blog about? What does “blogging” look like for you? You can make blogging a time of personal journaling, but I want to challenge you to think a little harder than that. Let’s re-define blogging as putting your passion into words for the world to experience.

Your passion.

If you are passionate about underwater basket-weaving, blog about it. If it’s vintage and retro living, go for it. If you’re all about the latest flip-flops coming out of the fashion scene, blog about it. The blogs I read are those written by people who are passionate, whose passion spills out in a contagious way.

In words.

Blogging can include video and other forms of media, and will more and more as time goes on. What I’m getting at is that blogging is the act of allowing your passion to escape your heart and find expression online in a form others can consume.

For the world to experience.

I talk a lot about the experience of reading blogs because I’m a design and communications nut. For me, content is highly important, but so is its aesthetic surroundings. I’m not drawn to mere words. I’m drawn to the experience of reading them in their creative context.

Blog On Topic

So blog about what you know, what you love, and what you can speak authoritatively about to the world. Stay focused. I blog about an array of subjects, but they are mostly related to each other. If I started blogging entirely about weedrat recipes, I’d lose my readers, no matter how good weedrat stew might be.

Network With Others

Writing is good, but reading is better. Speaking is great, but listening is even greater. Blogging isn’t simply the dissemination of information. Rather it’s the joining of an ongoing, developing conversation about a niche. The more people you help, connect with, and pour into, the more you and your blogging influence will ultimately benefit.

Read Great Blogs on Blogging

Don’t read them all – you’ll go nuts. There are too many of them. But some of my own favorites are:

  • WeBlogBetter.com (I started this one, but Kiesha Easley has taken it beyond my wildest dreams).
  • ProBlogger (A lot about earning money, but a lot about powerful networking too).
  • Copyblogger (A whole lot of longer posts about writing, communication, and marketing).
  • Fuel Your Blogging (I used to be the Editor, but Christopher is much better!).
  • Kikolani (She gathers together some of the best resources on the web).
  • Social Media Examiner (Not all about blogging, but the broader topic of social media, of which blogging is one part).
  • Chris Brogan (An expert who blogs his expertise rather freely).
  • Danny Brown (Few understand blogging activism like Danny).
  • Michael Hyatt (He understands blogging from the perspective of a respected publishing executive).
  • For Bloggers By Bloggers (A steady stream of great tips).
  • Blogussion (Another great site with great tips).
  • Hubspot offers another list of great blogs too.

Jump In!

Here’s my step-by-step guide to getting started with blogging in a half an hour or less. Understand that if you can get hosting, a domain, and a custom-designed WordPress theme, you’ll be better off in the long run. But this isn’t the long run. This is the moment of taking the plunge. So here’s my challenge:

  1. Sign up for an account at WordPress.com.
  2. Pick a nice theme that reflects the personality of your blog. You can change later, and even move your WordPress.com blog to a self-hosted platform. For now, pick something pretty.
  3. Create an “About” page where you tell the world whom you are and other ways to connect with you (link to your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social profiles).
  4. Write a blog post. No, “This is your first blog post.” doesn’t count. Craft a catchy, attention-getting title and briefly pour your heart out.
  5. Post the hyperlink on Twitter, Facebook, and wherever else you hang out online. Don’t be shy. Do it!

Oh, and below, in the comments, tell me where you blog! What would you add to what I’ve said (for the soon-to-be newbie bloggers)?

Image credit: Kristina B

The Growth of Social Media [Infographic]

Can you effectively lead a church without being on Facebook? It may not be such a dumb question, in my opinion. Can you lead, teach, and shepherd without technology? Sure. But can you infiltrate the culture with the gospel while walking in a circle of avoidance around the culture? To put it another way, can you snub the local favorite coffee shop and still relate to the people around you?

So the question is, are the people you want to reach showing up online? Let’s see…

The Growth of Social Media

Source: Search Engine Journal.

I don’t know… maybe it’s starting to take off…

Phil Cooke On the Biggest Mistakes Christians Make in the Media

This is an article that Pastors and anyone in the field of Church Communications needs to read and bookmark for later research. It’s the short version of a talk that Phil gave at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention. Phil was instrumental in sparking a huge interest in me in the realm of media and communications when I met him at a conference at Prestonwood Church in Plano a few years ago.

Here are Phil’s main points, but you need to click through and read his comments…

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Seven Ways Twitter Will Improve Your Preaching and Teaching

John Calvin published 22 volumes of commentaries on the Bible and Martin Lloyd-Jones published 9 volumes on Romans alone. What if you could remove all of the non-essential language, antiquated stories, and strip all of that knowledge down to some bite-sized, transportable truths? There is certainly room for argument against such condensation of historic works, but we have to realize that we live in a society inundated with more information in a day than Calvin consumed in a year.

In other words, the ability to be succinct and concise is worth gold when communicating truth in today’s culture. And Twitter helps. The ability to write volumes of words is impressive, but possibly not as impressive as the ability to take a deep and complex theological truth or spiritual application and package it in 140 characters or less.

[Read more…]