Three Advent Series Ideas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No doubt. Who doesn’t love Christmas? But let’s be honest, preachers. . . how we do we say what’s already been said (many times, many ways . . . see what I did there?) and what everyone already knows in a compelling way? It’s hard. If you have pastored at a church for more than a couple of years, thinking of ways to say the “old, old story” in a captivating way can be difficult. So, let’s share some ideas with each other shall we? Below are three years’ worth of Advent...

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Sermon Illustration: Treating Church Like a Dance

I found this thought from Jared Wilson’s The Imperfect Disciple helpful the next time I preach a sermon on community and/or the purpose of the local church. The community called the church, then, moving according to the rhythms of the kingdom, is like a great big dance.  But if you’re like me you hate dances – great big ones, especially. If you’re like me, you approach the dance as one who wants to look like he belongs there without really participating too much. You want to stand against the wall, bobbing your head to the music while not actually getting...

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Determining HOW to Preach the Text: Look Around

You’ve determined what text to preach. You’ve determined how the passage fits in the context of the Bible book. You’ve determined the specific meaning of the passage. Although this is  hard work (I hate to say this, BUT. . . ), it is not the most difficult part of sermon prep. Resources abound to help you determine the meaning of a text. But NO ONE has written a book on how to preach it to YOUR people. There are tons of experts on the Bible you can glean from. Chances are, other than you, there are zero experts on your...

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Sermon Illustration: The Whole Dose

In an attempt to help the congregation understand how we believers can be guilty of not living in the reality of the Whole Gospel, I used two illustrations – both dealing with medicine. First, thanks to Mike Glenn, I asked the congregation how many of them were guilty of being prescribed an antibiotic from the doctor and stopping before the bottle was empty? We all have. We get sick. We go to the doctor. We get an antibiotic. The directions say take the 14 day supply until all the pills are gone. We feel better after day 6 and stop...

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Determine the Specific Meaning of the Text

“A text can never mean today what it never meant then.” The preacher’s job is to determine what the author meant when he was inspired by the Spirit to write what he wrote. Once the broad meaning of the text is determined, the next step is to get into specifics of the passage being prepared to preach. In other words, when you have figured out why the passage you are studying is there (broad meaning) – you need to get into the weeds for specifics. This will help you begin to see how the form of the sermon might look....

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Sermon Illustration: Loving the Whole Person

Sometimes we walk away when people really just need to be loved. Southern Baptist’s have been guilty of loving people until they are converted. The second someone “prays a prayer” or “signs a card” or “nods in agreement” that they really mean it – we leave and hope they figure out life on their own. We love people until we “get us another one for heaven.” We love the baby until he or she is born. We love all people until a different “kind” moves in next door or sits in our pew. To illustrate this in a recent sermon,...

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Determine the Broad Meaning of the Text

Once you have decided what text to preach, the next step is to determine the purpose of the passage. Years ago I heard someone say, “A text can never mean today what it never meant then.” In other words, the preacher’s job is to figure out what the author of Scripture intended when he wrote it. “A text can never mean today what it never meant then” MUST drive your thoughts and study as you work through the text. So, how does the preacher go about figuring that out? Let me suggest you ask and answer each of the following...

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Sermon Illustration: The Secret of the Universe

Below is an illustration about the Bible from chapter 4 of Jared Wilson’s The Imperfect Disciple. I read it and thought there are several times this (or a similar illustration) could be used. My primary walking-around Bible is an ESV journaling Bible. The binding is coming apart. I have written in nearly every margin. Some pages are crinkled and stained. There is a bloody fingerprint in there somewhere. (It might be chocolate, actually.) If you were passing by my green ’97 Chevy Suburban in a parking lot and happened to see this worn bout book lying on the passenger seat, where...

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Exegesis? Eisegesis? The Real Jesus?

I’ll never forget one of the first days at seminary. I heard a couple of words that had never entered my ears before. “Exegesis” (pronounced “X-a-Jesus”) and “Eisegesis” (pronounced “Ice-a-Jesus”). I immediately thought I had enrolled in the wrong seminary because they were talking about a false Jesus. I just knew of One and was told all my life there was only One! “Oh no!” I thought. “I was warned that something like this might happen! I moved my wife to a place that believes there are multiple Jesus’!!!” Thankfully, before I packed up everything and stormed out of that...

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Sermon Illustration: Relationship

In a recent sermon on Praying the Scriptures, I wanted to highlight how a benefit of this discipline is deepening our relationship with the Father. He knows how we talk. He knows our language. He knows our heart. However, we aren’t always “well versed” (pun intended) in how He talks and what is on His heart. To go deep with someone in relationship means to relate to them in these areas. Think about it: Those people you know the best, those people you go deep with, those people whom you have a real and intimate relationship with – those are...

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