Vague Pastors


Last week, Carl Lentz, the pastor of Hillsong NYC made his rounds on CNN and Huffington Post. The interviews were fascinating to watch and see what God is doing through Lentz and Hillsong.

In those interviews, gay marriage came up as it always does if you are a pastor.

His answers were an attempt at a non-answer. He said in a sermon, “Some churches want us to give blanket answers on huge issues. Well, my Bible says, be attentive to individual needs. So I’m not gonna make polarizing political statements about certain things in our Christian community right now. No matter who says what, we won’t be pressured into giving blanket statements to individual needs. Never.”

He has also said he won’t “Preach on homosexuality.” But that is misleading.

When you don’t preach on something, you are preaching on that thing. You are just saying what you think won’t be as controversial or the thing that won’t lose you your following.

He says that “Hillsong has a stance on love, but has conversations on everything else.” On the surface, this sounds nice.

But he is falling into the trap so many pastors and leaders fall into: being vague.

The problem is this, homosexuality is talked about in the bible. Not as much as some Christians make it out to be. It is listed with other things for example in 1 Corinthians. The amount of sermons and blog posts on gay marriage dwarfs the amount of sermons and blog posts on adultery, stealing, greed (except at Christmas time), getting drunk, revilers, or swindlers.

Let’s take another example from 1 Corinthians 6. It talks about our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit and  yet, there are a lot of Christians who are unhealthy and destroying their bodies because of what they eat and drink. Every time there is a potluck at a church, there is a good chance we just sinned according to 1 Corinthians 6. Not always, but most of the time.

There is a clear problem when a pastor is vague and it is this: The problem with not preaching on things in the Bible is that Christians and non-Christians then don’t know what is in the Bible. They don’t know what they believe about something. They don’t know what God thinks about something. A Christian can’t have a conversation with a non-Christian about an issue if they aren’t taught. In the same way, a non-Christian can’t be confronted by truth if they don’t hear it.

This is one reason I think it is important to preach through books of the Bible. It keeps pastors from preaching on their soap box issues (and only talking about their soapbox issues), but it also allows pastors to not skip things. When you say, “I won’t preach on _____” you’ve just said I will skip passages in the Bible when I get to them because I don’t want to talk about them.

That is a low view of the Bible. God inspired those words for a reason.

What do you think? Should a pastor say they won’t speak on a certain topic? Is that ever an appropriate step?


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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.


  1. If you want to be a great leader, you must have vision.
  2. Donald Zimmerman on How to structure your worship ministry. This makes me appreciate Paul Ingram all the more.
  3. Personal branding for introverts.
  4. Tim Challies on Do you have a personal relationship with Satan?
  5. Great leaders are rarely normal, well-adjusted people.
  6. Garrett Kell on How to destroy your marriage before it begins.
  7. Hannah Joiner on Secrets for dads with daughters.
  8. Stop trying to date yourself. Great word for singles.
  9. Chan Kilgore on What he wished he would’ve known about leadership, parenting and satanic attacks when he started pastoring. If you are a pastor or thinking about it, this is a great series of blog posts.
  10. Will people have a chance to repent after they die?
  11. Trevin Wax on When your kids say “Dad, I know all the bible stories.”
  12. What one pastor wish he would’ve known about critics and parenting when he started pastoring.
  13. Thom Rainer on 7 tips for introverted pastors.
  14. The most important interview Rick Warren has ever done. I watched this last night and was blown away while watching it. Really a moving interview.
  15. How to not make a hiring mistake.

An Awkward Interview on a New book

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.


  1. Brett Lott on Being a Christian and a writer.
  2. Eric Geiger on Is a pastor a leader?
  3. The secret to public speaking.
  4. Scott Cochrane on Why is matters how a leader invest their time.
  5. 9 things you need to know about demographic studies and trends.

Stop Assuming the People You Preach to Agree with You


Two things happened recently that has really made me think about my preaching and the preaching of others.

One was at the Preach the Word conference where Justin Anderson made the comment, “Stop assuming people agree with what you believe. Unchurched people don’t agree with your beliefs, most of the churched people don’t agree with your beliefs, stop assuming.” He went on to say, “Pastors need to say less and prove more.”

Think for a minute all the statements that pastors make in their sermons, with little context or explanation. Assuming that everyone is on board with basic biblical truths like: everyone is a sinner, apart from Jesus you’ll spend eternity in hell, God loves you, Jesus rose from the dead, you have an idol that you worship.

Let me be the first to say, I am guilty of this. I have really been growing in this area in the last year thanks to the mentoring of Justin and others.

Then, in the aftermath of the tornado in Oklahoma came this interview on CNN:

Here are a few things this means for pastors:

  1. Explain things more. One of the things a good communicator does is explain what they mean. Too many pastors and communicators simply think everyone knows what they are talking about. I will very rarely use the words justification, sovereignty of God, sanctification, or gospel. I believe in all of them and love the truth of them. The problem is some people have no idea what you are talking about or have the wrong idea. I used to say gospel over and over in a sermon and one day someone asked, “Why do you keep saying gospel in your sermon? You aren’t preaching from a gospel.” Others see the word gospel simply as what gets you to heaven. Instead of saying sanctification I’ll talk about becoming the person Jesus created you to be. Now, as a pastor if you do this, you’ll get push back from the people who want “deep” preaching. That’s okay.
  2. Talk about why you believe things. If a pastor says something in a sermon, something they believe to be true about God or the gospel, explain why you believe that. If you are talking about grace and forgiveness, talk about why you believe those things. Show from Scripture and from your life how you’ve seen them to be true. Too often pastors simply give the finished product. They wrestle with a text or concept alone in their study and then say, “Here’s where I landed.” It is helpful to show some of that struggle and share some of that for your church.
  3. Have less points. I’ve talked about this too many times to count. If you have more than one point in a sermon, you are wasting a lot of time. Your church can’t remember more than one point and you can’t remember more than one point. Say your one point, a lot.
  4. Affirm the questions people have, don’t dismiss them. You as a pastor have questions, so do the people in your church. You don’t have to answer them all every week in every sermon, but affirm that their questions exist and are real. People wonder why God doesn’t heal them, why their spouse walked out, why getting fired could be God’s plan for them or if they are being punished for something. They wonder if hell exists or if Jesus really is the hero of all things. Affirm those questions. Tell them they are real and okay to ask. People in Scripture have doubts and unbelief and Jesus engages them.

What other assumptions do pastors make when they preach?

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Preach Better Sermons || Ed Stetzer

bookI’m watching the online conference Preach Better Sermons today and wanted to share some of the learnings I picked up. One of the speakers is Ed Stezter. Ed is President of LifeWay Research and author of numerous books including, Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and the Churches that Reach Them. Ed is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, a visiting professor at two prominent seminaries, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USA Today and CNN. He and his family reside outside of Nashville, TN.

Here are some things that jumped out from his segment:

  • You have to decide what you are communicating. 
  • Maximize your study by minimize your searching.
  • The Bible is always relevant, we don’t need to make it relevant, but we do need to make it relevant to them.
  • We must show our churches why something in the Bible matters.
  • Pastors are prone to exaggeration because they want to motivate.
  • Don’t use bad stats to motivate people.
  • Finding your own voice is one of the most important things for a communicator to do. Don’t be someone else.
  • Preach more Bible instead of simply good advice.

Preach Better Sermons || Nancy Duarte

bookI’m watching the online conference Preach Better Sermons today and wanted to share some of the learnings I picked up. One of the speakers is Nancy Duarte is a communication expert who has been featured in Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Wired, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Economist, LA Times and on CNN. Her firm, Duarte, Inc., is the global leader behind some of the most influential visual messages in business and culture and has created more than a quarter of a million presentations. As a persuasion specialist, she cracked the code for effectively incorporating story patterns into business communications. Resonate, her latest book, spent nearly a year on the top 100 business book bestsellers list.

Here are some things from Nancy’s segment:

  • Contrast is crucial to a talk sticking. 
  • Stories build up tension and then releases.
  • To communicate effectively you have to like your audience.
  • Communicators need to put themselves in their audience shoes.
  • Movies that win awards for best picture also win awards for editing. Editing, cutting, crafting is what sets apart a good from a great talk.
  • The hero of a presentation is not the person talking the most, but the audience. The audience determines if your idea lives or dies. They make or break your idea.
  • People should leave a sermon and feel unstuck.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.


  1. Brian Howard on Questions every pastor and leader should answer.
  2. How to preach and captivate your congregation.
  3. Pete Wilson on Crushing narcissism.
  4. Steve Jobs and the goal of preaching. If you preach, this is gold.
  5. Ed Stetzer on Mental illness and the church. Really helpful stuff.
  6. Trevin Wax on 5 ways to avoid the drain of busyness.

The Image Toaster

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like
  1. Seth McBee on Satan in the suburbs. Great reminder of how Satan shows up when people are on mission, yet Jesus is more powerful.
  2. 4 keys to creating momentum in your church.
  3. Nick Bogardus on The search for authenticity.
  4. Text and tweet during a church service.
  5. Tim Challies on Is a wife’s job harder than her husband’s job?

Links for Your Weekend Reading

  1. CNN on The demise of guys: How video games & porn are ruining a generation. Also, check out the author giving a talk at TED on the topic here. This reality is one of the reasons Revolution Church exists. 
  2. Here is a new song Paul is teaching this weekend at Revolution Church
  3. Evangelize, don’t indoctrinate your kids. Great word for parents. 
  4. Al Mohler on The Bible condemns a lot, but here’s why we focus on homosexuality
  5. 7 tips on communicating well
  6. Jared Wilson on What Jesus does with sin

Links of the Week

  1. Mike Breen on Keys to integrating mission & discipleship with your life. Great stuff.
  2. There’s no such thing as free porn.
  3. Brian Tracy on 3 easy habits to a healthy lifestyle.
  4. 5 reasons most people won’t become wealthy.
  5. Mike Anderson on How to start projects well.
  6. How Andy Stanley handled a heckler in his sermon.
  7. J.D. Greear on Does your church have what it takes to reach college students.
  8. The 6 types of people you meet in church planting.
  9.  Al Mohler on a major victory for Christian liberty, also see CNN’s Religion Blog’s take.
  10. Resources for discipling your children. Lots of helpful things here.
  11. Jared Wilson on Jesus was religious.