Posts Tagged ‘pastoring’


The Cadence of Good Preaching

Today for Leadership Journal, I interview my friend, Glenn Packiam, a pastor and songwriter in Colorado Springs. Glenn is a fellow Leadership Journal contributor and the lead pastor of new life DOWNTOWN, an extension of New Life Church.

He is the author of several books, including LUCKY: How the Kingdom Comes to Unlikely People and Secondhand Jesus. His latest is Discover the Mystery of Faith.Glenn also recently released an accompanying worship album.

I asked Glenn about the nexus of pastoring and songwriting:

You’re both a songwriter and a pastor. How does your creative side affect your preaching and leading?

A good sermon is, in many ways, like a good song. It has to have a solid hook that sums up the theme, something that will stick in their hearts and heads long after it’s over. It needs to have good verses that develop that theme and build up to it. There is a cadence to preaching that is also quite a bit like worship leading. Oftentimes as a worship leader, I wouldn’t know how many times we’d sing a chorus, or when we’d go to the bridge until the “live” moment. Preaching has that same feel for me. Sometimes riffing on an idea unexpectedly, letting the intensity build with a cadence of parallel thoughts and phrases, become the best moment of the sermon!

But I think the thing I’ve learned most about leadership from songwriting comes from the experiences I’ve had co-writing. In a co-writing session, you’ve got to check your ego at the door. You’ve got to work together to make the song the best it can be, regardless of who’s contributing more. Each person comes prepared, but holds their ideas loosely. And there’s a knowledge up front that credit is going to be shared evenly. We work in an environment that cultivates collaborative leadership. The lessons from co-writing apply as we work together on sermons, projects, events, and services. And it’s not because one person couldn’t have done it alone; it’s because we believe that we are better together.

via Out of Ur: Friday Five: Glenn Packiam.


Friday Five: Calvin Miller

Calvin Miller is a best-selling author with nearly four million books in print. He is one of the most poetic and gifted writers in the evangelical world. He is also a long-time pastor. Miller speaks all over the world and is professor of preaching and pastoral ministry at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. His latest books include Letters to a Young Pastor and Letters to Heaven

He was kind enough to answer questions for today’s Friday Five:

In your recent book, Letters to a Young Pastor you wrote a series of candid letters to young pastors. You really attacked the cult of celebrity that you feel pervades the 

evangelical movement. Why do you feel this is such a big issue?

I hope I didn’t come across as “really attacking” anyone. But as a teacher of young ministers for more than twenty years now, I just donʼt feel the sensitivity in many successful, “large church” Pastors that I want to feel. It is terrifying for many young ministers to try and find a place to begin their ministry and the large church staffs are so busy and self concerned with their “own programs they often let the young pastors die unemployed without feeling the burden to help them find a place to begin “serving.

You really advocate pastors concern themselves more with the trench work of local pastoring. Is this harder to do today?

I think it has gotten increasingly harder in the last two to three decades. Statistics (on those who are going into the ministry) now reflect that. only about 20% of seminary students feel that pastoral ministry is their calling. This is sad indeed. And, as I say in the book, those who do feel called into the ministry, only about 20% remain in the ministry after graduation. This is terrible and I pray daily that churches will mend their ways on how they treat their young pastors, because pastoral abuse is the number one reason young pastors drop out of the ministry.

Your latest book is Letters to Heaven. It’s a unique look at some of the influences who have shaped your life who have passed on to Heaven. Who had the most significant impact on your life? “

Chapter one is about “Mamaʼs God!” in this chapter I credit Jesus and Mama as both being of vast importance in my call. Of course, Mama would say that Jesus was most important in my call and preparation. On the other hand, I think Jesus might say,

“Calvin, my son, Donʼt sell your Mama short. She mattered a great deal!”

You’re influences are diverse, from Johnny Cash to Todd Beamer to personal friends who are known only to you. We really are a product of the people who have shaped us, aren’t we?

We are indeed. Iʼve always believed in the old adage, “I takes a village to raise a child!” There are many in my village. All of them were important. You’ve been a writer and a preacher for several decades now. What would you attribute to your longevity? Well without sounding to Bob Schullerish, I have always believed that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. And if that too “Bumper-Stickerish” I also believe, that the task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us.


Pastors, Love the Ones You’re With – The Gospel Coalition Blog

The Gospel Coalition graciously posted another of my articles. This one is about a new lesson I learned from a familiar passage:

I’ve read 1 Peter 5:1 many times. As a young pastor, I’m paying more attention to its straightforward directives for my calling as a shepherd.

But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that the simple, often overlooked phrase “among you” leaped off the page and into my mind.

Why did Peter add this prepositional phrase? We know he wasn’t meeting an editor’s quota. And unlike so much of my writing, the inspired Word of God doesn’t contain throwaway phrases. No filler here.

So this means the phrase has significance. Peter could have easily said, “Shepherd the flock of God.” But he didn’t, because there is a lesson in that seemingly innocuous string of words.

via Pastors, Love the Ones You’re With – The Gospel Coalition Blog.


Are Pre-Packaged Sermon Series a Good Idea for Pastors?

Pastoring in this age is a great blessing, because of the volume and variety of resources at our disposal. I have hundreds of books and commentaries on my computer thanks to Wordsearch software. Then I have a library full of books and a number of key websites I visit. That’s not to mention the study Bibles I own. You can be a marginally intelligent guy like me and still craft a good sermon.

One of the resources that I find most helpful are downloadable sermons. Several ministries offer these, including Preaching Today from Christianity Today, Sermon Central, and Rick Warren’s Personally I enjoy Preaching Today and then I use Ray Pritchard’s Keep Believing website to read his sermons and I frequent the archive of Ray Stedman, the late, great expository preacher. I also podcast several prominent pastors, first to feed my own soul and second to learn about the great texts of Scripture from great expositors.

Here’s the thing, though. I read and listen to these sermons as commentaries, to get ideas of how to structure and shape a sermon on a particular text and to get another man’s “take” on a particularly difficult passage. But I think it’s a miscarriage of my duty if I simply preached someone else’s sermon. I think most pastors would agree to this.

Which brings me to the idea of pre-packaged sermon kits. I’m seeing more and more of this from some more prominent pastors. Two examples that come to mind are Andy Stanley from Northpoint Church in Atlanta and Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill in Seattle. Both are terrific pastors whom God has blessed with great ministry.

What these guys (and other prominent pastors) are offering are complete reproducible and preachable  sermon series. They come complete with slick graphics, which include printable art work for posters, handouts, banners, etc. They are quite nice. But my question is this. Should a pastor of a local church, who has been called and ordained by God and chosen by the congregation to lead, should he preach the work of someone else on Sunday?

This is tricky question. On the one hand, all preachers’ work is the product of others. The old joke says that if you preach someone else’s sermon, it’s plagiarism. If you quote more than one preacher, it’s study. Our preaching is built upon the wise men who have gone before.

But that sermon should still be the product of our own study, right? I’m having a hard time imagining me doing a series at Gages Lake and saying, “Okay, we’re going to preach Andy Stanley’s “Guardrails” series this month.” The people might wonder, “Why are we paying him?” And isn’t it my job to study the Word and preach what God has specifically laid out for those particular people in that audience?

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Friday Five Interview: Ray Pritchard

It is my privilege to interview a pastor whose ministry I have long admired. I discovered Dr. Ray Pritchard while I was on staff and editing a Christian publication and was delighted to excerpt some of his books. I began following his blog. He began blogging way before blogging pastors were cool.

Dr. Ray was the senior pastor of Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, IL for many years and is the author of numerous, best-selling books, including An Anchor for the Soul, which is distributed around the world and translated in many languages. Ray is frequently interviewed on radio stations across the country and is a prolific speaker at conferences around the world, including Word of Life. Dr. Ray now is the full-time director of Keep Believing Ministries which equips pastors and church leaders around the world with a resource-rich website, Ray’s books, and a speaking ministry that takes him around the globe.

I have personally benefited from Dr. Pritchard’s ministry. He has been a rich source of wisdom and advice on pastoral ministry, writing, and life. I consider him a great friend. I also regularly peruse his archive of sermons and blog posts for insight into my own preaching.

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Friday Five Interview – Charles Stone

Several years ago, when I was working for a Christian organization and the editor of their monthly devotional magazine, I had the chance to meet Charles Stone, Senior Pastor of Ginger Creek Community Church. Actually I “met” him via email. We had the opportunity to print an excerpt from his then-new book, Daughters Gone Wild, Dad’s Gone Crazy. This was a great book that chronicled the  journey he took with his daughter who rebelled for a time but then came back to the faith.

Since then, we’ve become friends. Charles graciously endorsed Teen People of the Bible. We’ve also ran into each other at writer’s conferences, etc. I highly recommend his blog:

Well, now Charles is out with a brand-new book, 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them. It is a revealing look at pastoral burnout. I’m nearly finished with the book and I can say that it has challenged me and has educated me on the rigors of ministry. I highly recommend it for both pastors, board members, and lay people.

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