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The Value of Biographical Preaching
By: David Church
One of the most exciting and powerful methods of preaching is to share the story (biography) of a character in the Bible. This method is extremely valuable in building people and moving people from one level of ministry to another. God's desire is to grow His Kingdom. His Word is full of ordinary and less than ordinary people who He used to accomplish this purpose. It would behoove us as pastors and leaders to use this method of preaching a lot more than we have in the past. There is nothing more powerful than the testimony of a life that has been transformed by the power of God.
The proper definition of biographical preaching is;
The method of preaching that expounds a Bible character, based on careful exegesis, to deduce the principles that regulated his or her life and to apply the principles to the modern listener. A simpler definition is; Biographical preaching is preaching that provides a biography of the life of a person from scripture and draws a moral lesson or message from that story.
It is essential to understand that all preaching in its most basic of forms is (or at least ought to be) expository in nature. By that I mean that every scripture you share in a sermon should be exposed and expounded upon. Even when only one verse is used in a topical sermon, there is a degree of exposition that takes place. In the same sense, biographical preaching is a type of expository preaching. You are telling the story of an individual rather than the story of a chapter or a book. Instead of exposing a passage of scripture, you are exposing the life of a person in scripture. Your text may include several passages of scripture about the character.
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As a leader, how many times have you enthusiastically started a new project, excited about its prospects? Eager to begin, you call together your leadership teams, make plans and set the project in motion. But one thing lacks…you’ve forgotten to answer the questions that need answering.
Starting new ventures is great for creating momentum in the church; however, before you begin you must ask yourself and your team leaders if the project is sustainable in the long run. In other words, can you finish what you start? What’s more, if the right people aren’t in place to make it happen, it is more beneficial to refrain from starting until you have the appropriate people trained to take on the new project.
The Leadership of Jesus
In everything Jesus is our example, and momentum in leadership is no exception. Jesus looked ahead. His death, burial, resurrection and ascension into heaven were just a few short years away. In order for the church to succeed without Him, He trained and positioned the right people in the right place, ready to carry on His ministry after His ascension.
Often times Jesus said, "My hour is not yet come,” or "It is not yet my time." He walked in sync with God’s will and timing, cognizant of the preparation needed to complete His earthly tasks. And He made sure His disciples were equipped to continue His ministry after He left this earth.
The Lord is the finest example of leadership we will ever hope to have. His calling and training of the twelve disciples is a model of perfect leadership in ministry. Through Jesus’ leadership style, we can gain a sense of what it takes to create momentum in our ministries. The momentum Jesus created with His twelve disciples still moves forward today, 2000 years later.[ read more...]
One church may be in a small rural community where it is easy to develop close personal relationships. Another may be in a big city where shallow impersonal relationships are the standard. (In the country they all wave to each other – even to strangers. In the metro areas, they don’t speak to one another even when they walk abreast on the streets.
One town may have a growing populating while another may have a shrinking population. Industry is brining people into one area and as a result the pews seem to fill up all by themselves. Factory shutdowns may be causing another town to be losing its population, hence it looks like the church is not doing a good job since it too is shrinking.
One town may have a wealthy populace while another may be in a poverty stricken area. There is not going to be much need for a food bank in a wealthy area, but it may bring many new contacts and converts to a church in an impoverished area. If a pastor of the wealthy community says, “Hey, we need a food bank.” since he sees the success of the struggling community church, he may be wasting church resources and time.
One church might be a new church and another very established. (Established doesn’t always mean it has arrived, it just means it’s been there for a while.) I have worked in 2 church start ups and in 4 established churches. It is much easier to get things started and rolling in a newer church than one that has been around for 50 years. I could get programs started in one day in that small baby church where it took me months to get the same program started in larger established churches. Because it works overnight in one town does not mean it will work over night in another.[ read more...]
Five Things you must do to get Unstuck!
Has your church replaced truth with tradition? Have you done the same things for so long that neither God nor man could change things at your church? Do committees and programs substitute for the moving of the Holy Ghost? Has your church become boring and predictable? If so, your church may be stuck in a rut and may be unable to see a way out.
In his book, Rut, Rot or Revival, A.W. Tozer states,
"The treacherous enemy facing the church of Jesus Christ today is the dictatorship of the routine, when the routine becomes "lord" in the life of the church. Programs are organized and the prevailing conditions are accepted as normal. Anyone can predict next Sunday's service and what will happen. This seems to be the most deadly threat in the church today. When we come to the place where everything can be predicted and nobody expects anything unusual from God, we are in a rut.
The routine dictates, and we can tell not only what will happen next Sunday, but what will occur next month and, if things do not improve, what will take place next year. Then we have reached the place where what has been, determines what is, and what is, determines what will be. That would be perfectly all right and proper for a cemetery. Nobody expects a cemetery to do anything but conform. The greatest conformists in the world today are those who sleep out in the community cemetery. They do not bother anyone. They just lie there, and it is perfectly all right for them to do so.
You can predict what everyone will do in a cemetery from the deceased right down to the people who attend a funeral there. Everyone and everything in a cemetery has accepted the routine. Nobody expects anything out of those buried in the cemetery. But the church is not a cemetery and we should expect much from it, because what has been should not be lord to tell us what is, and what is should not be ruler to tell us what will be. God's people are supposed to grow. As long as there is growth, there is an air of unpredictability. Certainly we cannot predict exactly, but in many churches you just about can. Everybody knows just what will happen, and this has become our deadliest enemy."[ read more...]
Good leaders motivate, mobilize, direct and resource people to fulfill a vision. Our Lord knew well how to do all of these with His own disciples.
For too many years we have viewed the Pastor of the church as the sole supplier of edification in the church and as a result, he has little time to develop other leaders around him.
Whether you are the president of a corporation, the quarterback of a football team, a general in an army or a pastor of a church, it is important to realize the value of having a team around you who support and who work to carry out your vision. Without this, your desire to carry your church into a new dimension of revival may never take place. It will never become a reality as you alone do not have the resources or human ability to do it by yourself. God’s will for your ministry is bigger than you alone. You are going to need a team around you to help you get the job done.
Take the quarterback for instance. His goal is to get the ball from one end of the field to the other. He can run the ball. He can throw the ball. He can probably even kick the ball a bit, but he has a problem. There are several obstacles on the other side of the line of scrimmage who are just waiting for that ball to move so they can come and take it a way from him.
His problem is not that he does not know what to do. It’s not that he does not know how to do it. His problem is that he cannot do it alone. It’s impossible. He needs a team around him who will block for him. He needs people who he can hand the ball off to once in a while. There needs to be someone on his team who he can throw the ball to and trust that that person will do all he can to run it through a defensive line of huge, strong, mean, people who do not want the ball to get past them. Most importantly, he needs blockers. These fellas will systematically put themselves in harms way to protect the quarterback. Because if the quarterback is in any way hurt or removed from the game due to injury, the game is over for his team.
You see the quarterback is not the fastest. He is not the strongest. He is not the most agile. He is however, the one calling the plays. He is the one who knows what it’s going to take to get the ball to the other end of the field. The quarterback does not make the touchdowns, he puts the ball in the hands of the ones who will.
Many pastors have thought for too long that they alone are the quarterback, the running back, the blockers and the entire defensive line. For this reason, their churches are too often stuck at the line of scrimmage with no means of advancing toward the desired goal.[ read more...]
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].
The world has always seemed to be a stage for war. Tales of armed conflict fill written history. The Korean War had ended shortly before my arrival on planet Earth. Vietnam dragged on through my college graduation. American troops have fought and died in Grenada, Somalia, and our current endeavors in Afghanistan and Iraq. Regardless of the cause, it seems that there will always be conflict.
As we look back in history, we see one of the most powerful armies that ever walked the globe, The Roman Legions. In those ancient days there were no radios, satellite cell phones, or laser guided bombs. Discipline and order ruled the day. This army conquered the known world using three basic tenants.
1) Uniformity. The centurions all wore the same uniform. They understood that they were part of something bigger than just themselves. They carried a flag-type standard called a vexillum, which showed what legion they belonged. Each century (a 100 man detachment) carried their own standard called a signum. These standards helped the troops to keep in the right positions during battle.
2) Communication. A general would relay his commands to the cornice, (Latin for ‘horn-blower). Each command had a unique set of sounds. The cornice had the duty to blow the exact order from his commander. Under penalty of death he could not, by pride or mistake, change the order he blew through the horn.
3) Loyalty. The Legion carried a portrait of the emperor, the imago, this was to remind the troops they owed their loyalty to him. “. . . just as we make Rome great, it is Rome that makes us great. Without Rome, we are nothing”. (quote from Caerleon.Net)
The eventual destruction of Rome occurred when they dropped their qualifications for membership in their army. Where Roman citizenship had been a requirement, outsiders, or barbarians, were allowed in as paid mercenaries. Discipline and uniformity were dropped in favor of attracting large numbers. Communication broke down due to language barriers and lack of formal training. The commands blown through the horn were not understood. Additionally there was no loyalty to Caesar or Roman culture or values.[ read more...]
I am sure that most of those reading the title will think I have lost it for sure. However, I feel I have found it: While we seem to waste so much energy trying to avoid problems, troubles and things we deem unpleasant, the truth is—Trouble has built within it a blessing for all who will deal with it honestly. Trouble can surely reveal ourselves quite painfully and quickly, to say the least. Trouble has a way of making us reach beyond our small, imposed limitations and really allows for the accomplishment of so much more.
Difficulty is not a dirty word. We are made strong by what we are forced to face, not by what we have managed to side-step and avoid. Trouble has within itself a CHALLENGE we all need, to propel us into a higher level and to tap into our Latent Potential laying dormant. We all have a built-in desire to just coast. To do what has to be done and take life easy. This has never been the Way Of God. He has always managed to put His people into some tough situations, yet He always brings them out—and much better, I might add.
Various trials and tests are never sent to us, so we can crash and fail, but rather to educate us about the weak areas of our lives. These trials reveal the Power Of God that is available for the asking.[ read more...]
I can hear my mother still to this day yelling, "Are you listening to me?" Being the single mother of 5 children left her without much patience. I believe much of her frustration as a single, struggling mom, was she felt that no one heard her.
Mom worked all kinds of jobs to try to provide for us kids, so she was not home much. We pretty much raised ourselves. My 4 brothers and sisters were just about as unruly as children left to their own devices could get.
When Mom finally made a pit stop at the house, she would find it in shambles. Then, with the frustration of a mother trying to do her best, but failing miserably, she would simply lose it. "Are you kids listening to me?" The truth of the matter was, we weren't listening to a word she was saying. We were too busy having a blast doing our own thing.
I once read a story of a pastor who was asked by a woman in his church for a few minutes of his time. The pastor agreed to meet with her and while they talked, she said flatly to the pastor, "My father molested me when I was a little girl". Without missing a beat, the pastor said, "I believe you." The woman was shocked! She couldn't believe that someone had finally believed her.
Through tears she said, "For years I have tried to tell my family members, but no one would listen to me". It was such a relief to finally have someone who listened and believed her. The pastor asked, "What can I do for you?" "Nothing she replied, I just needed someone to listen and believe me."
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“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” Prov 18:19
Bob stopped me a while back to thank me. A trustee and board member in his church, he explained that he and his wife were greatly offended by a situation and people in the church. He told how one Sunday without knowing their situation, I encouraged them. I told them that “they were very important to the work of God there” and a “wonderful example to me”. I didn’t know they had already decided this was their last service in that church. He told me that had it not been for my encouraging them that day, they never would have gone back.
I wonder how many Bob’s leave the church without anybody noticing.
It is often said, “If we could just win back those who have already left, that would be a great revival. My question is, “how did we ever let them get away in the first place”?
In my years of pastoring and ministry, I’ve found that people usually leave the church because they were never truly assimilated into the family of God to begin with. Once a person is established into the church and have formed nurturing relationships, it’s less likely they would become offended and leave.
We think that we have to “get them into the choir right away” or “find them a position or job in the church” to keep new converts. This may help that person feel more attached, but it will never assimilate them into the church.
Why do people exit the church? Many times, a person leaves because they were never provided the proper relationships within the church.[ read more...]
Five ways to know whether or not your plan is working.
First let me establish what growth is; Growth takes place when a sinner is converted into God's Kingdom. Transferring members is recycled growth. Growth takes place when the church goes out into the harvest field (world/community) to gather the harvest (sinners).
The church is not of the world but we are the "'light of the world." We have been placed here to do the work of the Kingdom. Jesus called us a city set on a hill and the salt of the earth. We have been placed in this world to let Jesus Christ shine through us;
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Jesus is interested in Kingdom growth (converted sinners). His plan is that all would come to repentance, this is the will of God. True growth is not budgets and buildings, but it is souls added to the kingdom. Every church must have a plan to add souls to the kingdom. If you do not plan for this to happen then it is not going to happen. Some plans succeed, others fail. The question is, do you have a plan, and is your plan working?[ read more...]