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The Job Of Getting Out Of The Way (via Darryl Dash)

God uses people as a means to the end of having people meet and come to have Jesus as their Saviour and Lord.
Pastors have a particular role as one of those means.
It is possible for focus on the pastor and their personality and leadership to become the point at which people stop.
They’ve got some sort of relationship with the pastor, but not with Jesus.
Darryl Dash observes the problem, and the tendency in some sections of the church to be fuelling the focus on individuals and their ministries, and provides the solution.

Our job as pastors is to get out of the way.
Look for ways to move out of the spotlight. Shine the spotlight on Jesus. Make the focus of your ministry him. I’ve found that the Spirit seems to work powerfully when the focus is on Jesus, and less powerfully when I try to sneak my way into the spotlight. Make Jesus’ glory the focus of your ministry.

Read the rest of his post here.

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The Preacher’s One Sermon (via Darryl Dash)

Darryl Dash interacts with Eugene Peterson and muses on an observation that preachers have a signature theme in their preaching, basically that they really preach one sermon, whatever the text.
Sometimes it takes preachers a while to find what their signature message is, but usually they find it. Or it finds them.
I recognise the heart of the idea in my preaching.

In his memoir Preacher, Eugene Peterson recounts a conversation with his son.
“Dad, novelists only write one book. They find their voice, their book, and write it over and over. William Faulkner wrote one book. Charles Dickens wrote one book. Anne Tyler wrote one book. Ernest Hemingway wrote one book. Willa Cather wrote one book.”
A few days later, he said, “Remember what I said about novelists only writing one book? You only preach one sermon.”
Read the rest of the post here.

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Difficult To Measure (via Darryl Dash)

A thoughtful answer to a difficult to respond to question.
Darryl Dash frames a response to the enquiry “How’s ministry going?”
“It’s hard. It’s joyous. It’s difficult to measure.”

My generic answer to that question or variations of it is “Along.”

Dash concludes:

In the end, I don’t know how my ministry is going. Only God does. “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself,” Paul writes. “For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God” (1 Corinthians 4:3-5).


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Fighting Pastoral Covetousness (via Darryl Dash)

Darryl Dash offers some counsel by which pastors can not only avoid covetousness, but nurture satisfaction and joy.

We can fight pastoral covetousness in two ways.
Positively: cultivate contentment. Find satisfaction in your work and your place. Pray for joy. Base your identity not on how well your ministry is going, but who you are in Jesus.
After all, one day you’ll long for what you have now. Besides, I hear those who have larger ministries who long for a church like yours. Don’t miss the blessings that are yours that would be absent if your ministry was larger.
Second: love fellow pastors and churches. Pick one you’re tempted to envy, and pray for them. Ask God to give you joy when other ministries succeed. Ask God to free you from coveting their success. See their success as kingdom success, and remind yourself that we all work for the same master.
“Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot” (Ecclesiastes 5:18). What God has given is enough. We can enjoy it and praise God for what he’s given others.

Read the whole post here.

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Anticipating The Yawns And Fists (via Darryl Dash)

Darryl Dash writes the two questions that have to be answered in sermon preparation: What’s the central idea? and What are the sticking points?
The first question identifies what the Scripture is saying to the congregation.
The second anticipates how different congregations may have varied reactions to that message.
The preacher has to have a relationship with, and knowledge of, his congregation so that sermons will have breadth and depth over an extended season.
From the article:

Once we discover biblical truth, we need to analyze it from the perspective of the audience that will hear it and ask a couple of questions:

  • What will make them fall asleep?
  • What will make them object?

We’re looking for both yawns and fists. We need to understand how to make the truth compelling, and we also need to anticipate objections and to respond to them. Sometimes we discover that our big idea is a platitude that needs revisiting. Other times we need to show why the truth is important. Other times we need to answer objections or just acknowledge that it’s a hard truth to swallow.
We don’t change the truth to be palatable, but we must understand how to communicate the truth to an audience that will have a hard time hearing it.

Read the whole post here.

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Ten Questions To Sharpen Sermons

Darryl Dash provides ten questions in sermon preparation, four to ask of the text and six to ask in preparing for preaching the text.
Hopefully (assuming if you hear a sermon tomorrow the preacher will base it on a text) you’ll hear these questions addressed.

Four Questions for the Text

  1. What did this text mean for the original audience? One of the biggest mistakes that we make is to ask what the text means for us before we know what it meant for the original audience. Forget about your audience for now. Until you answer this question, you’re not ready to proceed.
  2. What is the central idea of this text in relation to the original audience? There are many ideas in the passage, but there is a central idea. Until we understand the central idea of the text, we’re not prepared to move forward.
  3. What does the passage reveal about God? Is there an attribute revealed? What implications does the author draw from what’s revealed about God?
  4. What does the passage reveal about humanity? In particular, what does it reveal about human need? How does this passage reveal our failures (i.e. sin) and finitude (i.e. that we are limited)?

Six Questions for Preaching the Text

  1. What does all of this mean for my audience? How does the central idea, as well as what’s revealed about God and about us, intersect with our condition today?
  2. How can I express the central idea practically and memorably? How can I express the central idea of the sermon so that people remember it, and so that it applies to people today? How can I structure the sermon so that it has one main point, with (when necessary) supporting points, rather than many different points?
  3. How can I raise the need? The sermon will address a need. If the listener is already aware of that need, how can I hook them? If they aren’t aware of the need, how can I make them aware? It’s good to show sympathy in how we raise the need. It’s not their need; it’s our need.
  4. How does the gospel answer this need? What is there in Jesus that answers this need? How does he become more beautiful and desirable in this passage?
  5. What does this look like today? What are the implications for how we love (desires), think (mind), and live (actions)? Important: don’t overemphasize actions at the expense of desires and thoughts.
  6. What objections will my hearers raise? How can I express these objections well, and answer them?