How To Move On After You Bomb a Sermon

It’s never fun. In fact, it’s painful. You preach an awful sermon. You lay the proverbial egg. Sometimes it doesn’t hit you until after the message is preached. Most times, however, it comes right in the middle – when you realize the congregation isn’t with you and you aren’t with them. It’s then you want a redo. You want to go back to the study. You want to wrap it up and let everyone get on with their day. You feel like you are stirring wet cement that is getting harder and harder by the second. At the first church...

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Sermon Illustration: For the Love of the Game

Recently I found myself watching an episode of ESPN‘s College Football Live. Yes, it was the first week of August. Yes, it was still 3 and a half weeks away from the start of the season. Yes, the episode had nothing to do with what was going on the field (because NOTHING was happening on the field yet!). The content centered around speculation about what “so and so” said or what might happen in the upcoming season. But I am from and live in the South. And if there is something on TV that has to do with College Football,...

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7 Hacks for Preaching Narrative Texts

Everyone loves a good story, and every story in the Bible is good. I mean, like, better-than-Hollywood good. Not only do stories, by their very nature, keep the listener’s engaged, but they also allow for our God-given imaginations to run wild. Preaching narrative texts are by far my favorite passages to preach. Since over 70% of the Bible is written in narrative form, that’s a good thing. Enjoying a good story and preaching one in front of a congregation, however, are very different. It’s a great feeling when you are ready to preach a narrative text. It can be a sinking...

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Sermon Illustration: God’s Love

This is one of my all-time favorite illustrations and probably my all-time favorite personal story. Though it is personal to me, I hope it allows memories from your own life that tell a similar story – a story that points you (and others!) to the great love of God. In other words, though you are free to steal this illustration (ha), I hope it will cause a similar story from your own life to bubble up and use in future sermons.   When I was a junior in High School I dated a cheerleader from a nearby town. Her nickname...

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Dealing With Distractions

I will never forget it. It was in the tiny, old sanctuary of the first church I pastored in Amite, Louisiana. A young boy was acting up in the middle of the sermon. I was preaching away, doing my best to press through, and leaving it to mom and dad to handle the young lad’s obvious misbehavior. Dad handled it alright. In the middle of the sermon, the dad stood, grabbed his son by the arm, and yanked the now terrified boy out of his pew. The two went down the aisle and out the back of the sanctuary. But neither...

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Sermon Illustration: The Magic Coat

This is one of my all-time favorite illustrations. It is a tremendous visual to use to explain how the Spirit of God works inside the believer. I originally heard Al Jackson use it in a sermon on Ephesians 5. I have “borrowed” it numerous times. The good news is that it is a great illustration. The bad news is that – if you are a pastor – you can only use it once for your congregation! If you don’t normally wear a sport coat when you preach, you might want to wear one the day you use this or bring...

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When You’re the Guest Preacher

From time to time, you will be asked to fill the pulpit at another church. Or, you will be asked to speak at an event outside the normal Sunday morning setting—revivals, chapel services, school assemblies, Sunday night fill-ins, etc. These are some of my favorite times to preach. Because these events are usually “outside the norm” of Sunday morning, there is a unique energy in the room. Also, I have learned that people tend to listen better if there is a voice they aren’t used to hearing (which, by the way, is a good lesson for all preachers to remember....

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Sermon Illustration: It Happens So Fast

It’s happens so fast. It happens when aren’t expecting it. It happens and you don’t even mean for it to. Last Sunday morning, not only was the AC not working in the sanctuary, but we couldn’t figure out how to turn off the heat. It was really, really hot. The first service was held in the sanctuary, complete with bulletins serving multi-purposefully as fans and information. The second service was held in the fellowship hall where the AC was graciously and wonderfully working. In both services, due to the projectors being too warm to function, we were “forced” to use...

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Preacher, Cut Yourself Some Slack!

It is amazing to me who approaches Jesus about fasting in Matthew 9. It’s not a Pharisee. Not a scribe. Not a random person off the street. But some of John’s disciples. John as in “John the Baptist.” Yeah, that John the Baptist. The same John who was Jesus’ cousin. The same John who leaped in his mom’s womb when he heard Jesus’ mom talk. The same John who preached Jesus’ coming and declared His arrival. The same John who baptized Jesus. The same John who saw the Spirit descend on Jesus. The same John who heard God speak from...

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Sermon Illustration: Power in the Gospel

Recently, in light of Independence Day, I opened the sermon with an illustration using fireworks. The text I preached from was Romans 1:14-17. You can listen to it here. My aim was to cause my listeners to think whether or not they truly believed there was power in the Gospel of Jesus. I wanted the congregation to contemplate whether or not they believed there was more power in a $5 fire cracker to change things in Franklin than there is in the Gospel of Christ. Using two different volunteers in each of the two services, I gave each volunteer on...

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