Links for Your Weekend Reading

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.

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Fast Company on The secrets of the best public speakers.

Why atheists lose debates with William Lane Craig.

Andrew at Evaluating Christianity has put up some excellent posts of advice on how to debate William Lane Craig (onetwothreefourfive). The reason Craig wins all his debates with atheists is not because his arguments are sound, but because he is a masterful debater. Craig has been honing his debate skills literally since high school. Not only that, but he is a Ph.D. philosopher and encyclopedic historian: an expert on the two subjects he debates, the existence of God and the resurrection of Jesus. Let me repeat. Craig has done 20+ years of Ph.D+ level research in the two fields he debates, has published hundreds of academic books and papers on both subjects, and has been debating since high school.

Justin Lanthrop on I’m a pastor. So, who are my real friends?

One of the most difficult parts of being a pastor, or working in church ministry, isn’t talked about much—and that is the difficulty of making close friends.

Sam Rainer on The biggest leadership distraction.

A lot gets said about followers that create distractions. Those distractions exist. And they can be great time wasters. The greater distraction, however, is the one created by the leader.

Why do so many pastors leave the ministry, the answers might shock you. So sad, but so true for many pastors.

It’s true that some pastors fall into temptation and yet others simply feel it’s their time to call it quits. But often it goes much deeper than that. And the stats reveal much.

Bill Tenny-Brittian on Preaching to a new target.

Most of us pastor-types were taught to preach primarily to a Modern, well-churched or well-church-experienced audience. The target of our preaching was essentially “one of us.”

Passionate Seattle Seahawks fans watch the NFC championship game in complete silence

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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.

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Aaron Armstrong on Encourage your pastor, be fruitful.

How do you encourage your pastor? In some ways, the answer seems obvious. We know we should pray for them (and hopefully we do). We know we should thank them. We know we should find ways to help them (all ideas I’ve discussed here). But there’s another way we can do this—simply, by being fruitful.

Marlena Graves on Raising Christians kids in a sex filled culture.

I believe the porn pandemic and other forms of illicit sex are really a result of our failure to love God and our neighbors. Consequently, we cannot merely fixate on “Don’t do this, don’t do that” instruction or on isolating our children. They need to know deep down why we do what we do or don’t do.

Tim Challies on Stopping an affair before it begins.

At one time or another, most of us witnessed the devastation that comes through infidelity in marriage. We have seen marriages stretched almost to the breaking point and we have seen marriages destroyed by an unfaithful husband or unfaithful wife. Affairs do not begin with sex. Falling into bed with a man who is not your husband or a woman who is not your wife is simply one step in a long chain of events, one decision in a long series of poor decisions.

10 Ways to leverage Christmas to reach unchurched people.

So…how are you leveraging Christmas to reach unchurched people? After all, there is really only one time of year left in Western culture when our culture still celebrates something Christians hold dear, and that’s Christmas. What surprising is that many churches don’t really leverage it to make the impact it could.

David Murrow on How to preach to men.

It’s been said that a good sermon is like a good skirt: long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep you interested.

Thom Rainer on 6 pastoral lessons from the coach of a football team that never punts.

The joy, work and beauty of motherhood.

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.

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Justin Lee on When Christian’s are Christianity’s worst enemy.

I’m a Christian. I’m proud of my faith, and I love the church. But sometimes my fellow Christians make me want to scream.

Jessica Stillman on 5 secrets of public speaking from the best TED presenters.

How can you borrow a bit of the magic that garners some TED talks millions upon millions of views? An author of a book on the subject shares some secrets.

Tim Stevens on How to help a leader leave your church well.

These situations are going to be messy. A “good leave” is not defined by lack of mess. It is defined by how both sides respond to the mess and work through it with love and grace.

Trevin Wax on Book notes from Playing God, David & Goliath, and Die Empty.

Will Mancini on The 4 types of church members every church has and how they relate to the mission of the church.

A helpful way to shepherd your people with relationship to the mission of Jesus is to ask two simple questions: 1) Is the person clear about the vision of your church? 2) Is the person wanting to make a contribution?

U2’s new song “Ordinary Love” from the new Mandela movie. Such a great song and I can’t wait to see this movie.

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.

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  1. Yancey Arrington on The grace of repenting to your kids. We do confession each night together as a family and it is becoming an important practice in our family when we reconcile with each other.
  2. Removing the lid of your organization.
  3. Tony Morgan on 10 things people want before they start to give at your church.
  4. Ron Edmondson on 7 ways to protect a pastor’s kid.
  5. The leader who can’t let go.
  6. Mike Leake on 5 reasons why our small groups stopped doing book studies and why I’m glad about it. We do sermon based discussions in our missional communities and it is the healthiest thing our church does.
  7. Jonathan Dodson on Sermon prep.
  8. One reason why parents (especially men) church attendance is declining.

12 Things Great Speakers Do

Nancy Duarte is an expert in presentation design and principal of Duarte Design, where she has served as CEO for 21 years. Nancy speaks around the world, seeking to improve the power of public presentations. She is the author of Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations as well as Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences and the recent HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. Her books are must reads for communicators but many pastors don’t know who she is. So, as an introduction, here are 12 of my favorite quotes from her:

  1. Designing a presentation without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter and addressing it “to whom it may concern.”
  2. The people in your audience came to see what you can do for them, not what they must do for you. So look at the audience as the “hero” of your idea—and yourself as the mentor who helps people see themselves in that role so they’ll want to get behind your idea and propel it forward.
  3.  Give people insights that will improve their lives.
  4. People don’t fall asleep during conversations, but they often do during presentations—and that’s because many presentations don’t feel conversational.
  5. Before you begin writing your presentation, map out that transformation—where your audience is starting, and where you want people to end up.
  6. Ask yourself, “What new beliefs do I want them to adopt? How do I want them to behave differently? How must their attitudes or emotions change before their behavior can change?”
  7. Presentations move people to act—but only if you explicitly state what actions you want them to take, and when.
  8. The quality of your presentation depends as much on what you choose to remove as on what you choose to include.
  9. The most persuasive communicators create conflict by juxtaposing what is with what could be.
  10. Never deliver a presentation you wouldn’t want to sit through.
  11. Transparency wins people over.
  12. For an idea to spread, it needs to be distinct and stand out.

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.

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  1. 13 tips for giving a killer presentation.
  2. Thom Rainer on The #1 reason for church decline and what to do about it.
  3. A warning to wandering Christians.
  4. Matthew Barrett on Pastor, bring your bible to church. I agree with this and bring my iPad and my Bible when I preach.
  5. Kevin DeYoung on 5 commitments to those struggling with same sex attraction.
  6. Why everyone should see The ButlerI’m definitely intrigued by this film.
  7. Russell Moore on The moral majority to the prophetic minority.
  8. Confessions of a broken pastor’s wife. This is heartbreaking to read.

Able to Teach

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One of the qualifications of being an elder is “able to teach.” Often this gets interpreted as “able to preach.” Which is not the case. Here is a great definition from Thabiti Anyabwile in Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons on what this qualification means:

This ability is not limited to public teaching from the pulpit. Men with this ability might be gifted public teachers, or they might simply be gifted for one-on-one or small-group settings. Some men are not exceptional public speakers, but they are teaching and counseling the people around them from the Scriptures all the times. Such men should not be disqualified from the office of elder.

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.

book

  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.

Tuesday Morning Book Review || There’s No Such Thing as Public Speaking

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is There’s No Such Thing as Public Speaking: Make Any Presentation or Speech as Persuasive as a One-on-One Conversation (kindle version) by Jeanette and Roy Henderson.

I was recommended this book by Justin Anderson and it really does have a ton of wisdom in it for communicators.

The biggest takeaway for me from the book had to do with body position and eye contact. Picking out 3 people that you will continually make eye contact with, thus giving the effect that you are looking at the entire room and pulling in everyone around them. They also pointed out that every main point should be given to the center section, 2/3 of the way back. Applying these two principles in the last few sermons have made a huge difference.

Here are a few other things that I highlighted:

  • The goal of the perfect presentation: to realize that the number of people listening is irrelevant; you are simply having a one-on-one conversation with a lot of people at once.
  • As the presenter, you must clearly understand that everything you do, every move you make will have a consequence, and the audience will respond accordingly.
  • Before you being any conversation, meeting or presentation, you must know what need you intend to have satisfied as a result, what effect you desire.
  • Every presentation should begin with an irrefutable statement that the audience can nod and mentally say “yes” to.
  • Every presentation should create in the audience a desire to have a need met and satisfied. They should hear you, know what need you will meet and satisfy and wait for it.
  • The best rule of thumb with gestures is to wait for it, then when you feel it, go for it.
  • The longer the pause, the more anticipation you build, and the more attention your audience will pay to what comes next.
  • When the presenter appears less organized or knowledgable than the audience, there is little hope that the presentation will be well received.
  • The more natural something appears, the more time went into making it appear that way.
  • The presenter must represent authority, must be the leader for that moment in time.
  • To establish authority through dress, dress one step up from what your audience is wearing.
  • You want your clothes to say, “I’m just like you, I just have a little more knowledge or authority. Therefore, I’ve been a little more successful on this particular subject.”
  • Dressing below the audience will fail to project authority and it will be nearly impossible for the audience to perceive you as the leader.

As I said, if you preach on a regular basis, this is a book worth picking up and going back to on occasion.

3 Things Make a Sermon Great

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There are a lot of good sermons and good preachers, but there seems to be a level of great. Communicators that thousands listen to, thousands respond to and the Holy Spirit uses in incredible ways. While I would not stick myself in that category, I hope to continue growing to be used by God as much as I can.

Before laying out the difference between a good and great sermon, a quick definition:

To expound Scripture is to open up the inspired text with such faithfulness and sensitivity that God’s voice is heard and his people obey him. -John Stott

A sermon is not a sermon if it doesn’t point people to Jesus. It is just a motivational talk if it simply self-help and not focused on the gospel. So, with that definition, what separates a good from a great sermon?

Three things.

First, stories. 

It isn’t the facts, data or logic laid out in a sermon. People forget those things. Facts and data do not move people. No matter how convincing they are or how much pastors love them. And believe me, pastors love facts and data. They are a warm blanket. If a pastor is communicating a gospel-centered sermon, it is not facts and data or logic that is missing. It is stories.

Now, many pastors stay away from stories because they don’t want to sound shallow, they don’t want to be vulnerable and talk about their moments of failures. The reality is that people respond to stories, they respond when you open up about yourself.

For many pastors, they feel stories are shallow. When going to make a point, many pastors who preach through books of the Bible as we do as at Revolution will use a verse from a different point in the Bible instead of a story. There isn’t anything wrong with this, but when you jump around in the Bible, you create the impression for your church that it is hard to study the Bible (I’ll blog about that another time). This is no way means a pastor has a low view of the Bible, that is a straw man argument. What a pastor is seeking to do is create a human connection with a story. Bringing emotions allows a person to be more open to hearing something. When someone feels connected relationally to a pastor, they are more likely to listen to them.

Second, editing. 

I recently read an interesting thing, most movies that win best picture awards are also in the running for best editing. In some circles of pastors, it is seen as a badge of honor if you preach for an hour. I’ve never listened to a sermon for an hour. I always give up around minute 45, no matter who is preaching. Justin Anderson once told a group of pastors, “You need to know how many minutes you can preach. You may be a 45 minute guy or a 35 minute guy. You need to know and stick to that.”

My sermons tend to be in that 35-40 minute time frame. There have been week’s that it is longer depending on the topic and text and some week’s that are shorter.

When you preach, can you make a sentence that is 15 words down to 10 or 7 words? Can you make your point by taking 5 – 7 minutes off your sermon?

Third, one point. 

This follows closely with the second thing. People listening to a sermon cannot remember multiple things, only one thing. I saw this with a group of younger leaders I meet with. We watched some sermons and 5 weeks after the one sermon we were talking about it. The one guy didn’t like the speaker, thought he was shallow, but he could remember the main point he communicated 5 weeks after the fact.

Make your main point into a simple, memorable statement. And say it again and again in your sermon. Make your church say it with you. Long after your sermon is over, they will remember the stories and that one statement.

Do you agree? Disagree? What 3 things make a great sermon?

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