About twenty years ago, Dr. Ed Stetzer and I worked on a church plant on the east side of Louisville, Kentucky. As the planning progressed, Ed asked me what we should name the church. I suggested Eastside Baptist Tabernacle. He rejected that immediately, and I believe he settled on River Oaks Community Church. The church plant failed because the church planter left after six months. When we evaluated the project, I told Ed it failed because he rejected the name I suggested. From time to time the discussion arises about whether a Southern Baptist church should include Baptist in its name. In … [Read more...] about What’s in a Name?
Last month my dear wife and I went on a cruise to Alaska with Dr. David Jeremiah. He preached great sermons, and the music was wonderful. The natural beauty of Alaska prompted us to praise the Creator and admire His handiwork. During one of his sermons, David Jeremiah said something that gave me pause: “At Shadow Mountain Community Church we demand excellence in all things.” Since then I’ve been pondering that phrase—"excellence in all things.” I’ve heard other mega-church pastors make the same statement, and it always evokes mixed emotions in me. Positive Reaction Positively, I agree … [Read more...] about Excellence in All Things
I believe all of us who serve in ministry feel inadequate from time to time. I surely do. Sometimes I reflect on the Apostle Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 2:16b—“And who is sufficient for these things?” Clearly, Paul felt a sense of inadequacy in regard to the responsibilities he bore. We would all join Paul in asking this question: Who is truly sufficient? Our church members assume we are masters of all aspects of ministry; after all, we graduated from the seminary. The reality is that we are typically good at some things, poor at others, and get by on the rest. I do fine with … [Read more...] about Who Is Adequate for Ministry?
I’m sure some readers will assume that I’m trying to launch a feminist campaign. I intend nothing of the sort. I fully affirm the Baptist Statement of Faith and Message article that specifies that the office of pastor is for males only. Still, I find the question of deaconesses (female deacons) an interesting exegetical question. This topic came to mind one Sunday morning, as my wife and I drove to church. We were listening to Dr. Robert Jeffress (pastor of FBC Dallas) on the car radio, and he was preaching about deacon ministry. As an aside, he stated that he had no objection to women serving … [Read more...] about What about Deaconesses?
Over the years I’ve served one church as pastor and ten churches as interim pastor. Besides that, I’ve served as a supply preacher or missionary speaker at countless churches. At many churches after the service, the preacher stands at the main exit and speaks to the folks as they leave. Many feel compelled to say something about the sermon. The comments the departing attenders make vary widely and wildly. If you are a visiting preacher, they often say thanks for coming or thanks for preaching for us today. However, if you are the pastor or interim pastor, the comments change. Of course, … [Read more...] about After-Sermon Comments
In recent years some pastors have abandoned the invitation at the conclusion of the sermon. I’m sure they have various reasons for this; however, the primary reason seems to be equating invitations with “easy believism.” I realize that invitations have been abused and misused over the years; but so have sermons, and we still preach sermons. Properly done, invitations are still necessary and helpful. Why do I still believe in and extend invitations when I preach? Invitations Are Biblical The Apostle Peter gave an invitation on the day of Pentecost: “And with many other words he bore … [Read more...] about Preacher, Give an Invitation!
What would preachers, politicians, and sports writers have to say without clichés? According to my American Heritage Dictionary, a cliche is “a trite or overused expression or idea.” Of course, there is truth in clichés. If there was no truth, we would not use them. Still, some are used so much that wise preachers would do well to avoid them. At least, you should. When I use them, that’s different. I’ve compiled a short list of preacher clichés, and I hope our readers will add to my list. Here are some that I’ve heard (or used). Every head bowed and every eye closed. If no one … [Read more...] about Cliches – What Would We Say without Them?
Editor's Note: I feel some level of smug satisfaction that for the first time in a while, I remembered to change the author to Mark Terry and properly credit him for his post! In my preaching ministry, I’ve mainly preached series of sermons. Of course, I’m not alone in this. Many pastors do, I’m sure. I once asked Mark Dever if he preached sermon series, and he replied, “I only preach sermon series.” It’s clear that the big name preachers do this because their sermon series become published books. What are the advantages of sermon series? First, the preacher does not experience Saturday … [Read more...] about In Praise of Sermon Series
When I started to college at John Brown University, it was a “thing” on campus to have a life verse (a Bible verse that guides your life). I had never heard the phrase, “life verse,” and I did not have one. The first time a student asked, “What’s your life verse?” I replied, “What’s a life verse?” I didn’t have one, and I wasn’t sure how to get one. Still, my fellow students continued to ask, so I decided to fight back. I did pick one—“O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth! For your love is better than wine” (Song of Solomon 1:2, RSV). Then, when the next student inquired, I … [Read more...] about Do You Have a Life Verse?
Recently, someone asked me if I was retired. The question flummoxed (a word for William’s list) me somewhat. That’s because I am partially retired. These days I’m receiving Social Security payments as well as withdrawals on my Guidestone account. The IMB made me an Emeritus Missionary, and Mid-America Seminary named me a Professor Emeritus. So, by those measures, I am retired. Yet, I still go on international mission trips, and I still teach some for Mid-America Baptist Seminary. Beyond that, our church has graciously provided me with an office, and I serve in various ways in our church. I … [Read more...] about Should a Pastor Ever Retire?