How to Be a Good Preacher in One Challenging Step.
June 12, 2013
Preaching is a complex subject. “How to preach” is a popular topic and you can find many books on it at your local bookstore. However this is the not the topic at hand. This is not advice for how to preach well but rather how to be a good preacher. For far too long a good preacher has been defined by their ability. While this has merit it is not central to preaching. I’ve heard great preachers that don’t match my understanding of good preaching. There is something greater at the heart of preaching. It comes down to one simple idea: to be a good preacher is be in submission.
Submit to God
Truth is the power and wonder of preaching comes from its effect: transformation. I’ve seen it in others and I know it in myself but it wasn’t the preacher who changed my life, it was the work of Christ. For whatever reason God has chosen to use preaching to aid in the process of transformation but the act of transformation is a work of God in itself. As Dr. Michael Knowles often said in my most recent class with him “You can’t save my soul through preaching.” But of course God can. The preacher needs to submit their ability to God.
Submit to the Text
Christian’s have always believed that there is power in the Word of God. That power is not simply one of intellectual pursuits or whimsical interpretation of the text: it is the work of God in written form. Taking that power from the book to the pulpit is not a simple process. I cannot explicitly create a step-by-step guide from written word to spoken word but it starts with a deep submission to the text. Be devoted there first and read it as a believer not a preacher. There you will find words that root themselves in you and they will be so rooted that when you speak of the text you point to a Living Word.
Submit to Your Audience
A preacher has great power over a congregation. For whatever reason (be it faith or force) people have decided to sit and listen to you speak a profound word from/about God. This is not an opportunity to show off. It is not an opportunity to defend your position in the church. It is not an opportunity for you to manipulate or be clever. This is an opportunity to effect change in their lives. To do this well and honorably you must submit to your audience. Care for them as listeners. Remember that when you speak of death that there are people out there mourning. Remember when you talk about sin there are people out there ridden with guilt. They need your consideration and sensitivity. Submit to your audience and their world: it goes a long way.
2 Keys for Successful Ministry
June 6, 2013
Over the past few years I have had two very different experiences leading a team. The first was chaotic, messy, broken and destructive. The second was unified, stable, fully functioning and successful. The key difference: my commitment to prayer and encouragement.I can’t place the blame anywhere but myself and honestly when my devotion to prayer and encouragement waned my teams suffered. For any leaders out there trying to build strong teams let me urge you to be committed to praying with your team and encouraging them . You might be tempted to say that you just can’t fit prayer and encouragement into an already busy schedule and you are right. Being committed to these is costly but for every cost the gain is substantial.
Encouragement costs time/energy but the gain is success.
Every form of encouragement takes some time and energy. Asking about someone’s day or writing a letter will ultimately be withdrawing from your own busy schedule to meet someone else’s needs. However, as a leader you are responsible for the success of the team. The move toward encouragement is a step toward your team’s success. As I have said before, at the end of the day you cannot wait for success to happen you have to be the motivating force. Encouragement is one of the ways you can take responsibility for your team.
Prayer costs vulnerability but the gain is unity.
There are days in leadership where you want to quit. Your team seems to always be mad at you, your job is full of disappointments, and your passion begins to seem more like a glimmer than a spark. It is during days like this a leader needs to step down from the top and beg people to pray with them. Last summer, working with a team a camp, I would find fears and frustrations taking hold of my life and work. It took a lot but when I stopped and asked for help, in the form of prayer, it made a world of difference. At the end we were stronger, we had a clearer sense of vision and direction and ultimately we would be unified.
In the end I suppose this all comes down to one question: what wouldn’t you do to build a successful and unified team? Sacrifice some time, energy and be a bit vulnerable and commit yourself to prayer and encouragement.
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Camp Norland: A Summer Mission in Northern Ontario!
June 5, 2013
We are looking for passionate young leaders to come and serve the children of Northern Ontario this summer!
Camp Norland offers a broad camping experience, which encourages growth in the camper’s relationship with God, himself, and others. Programs include Red Cross and Life Saving Society aquatics, canoeing instruction and canoe outtripping, archery, sports, drama, music, crafts, campfires, and Bible Studies for all age groups.
We still have a variety of positions available for you!
Summer Site Manager
This position is funded by a government grant and requires a full-time student. For more information click here:
Job Description – Summer Site Manager,2013.
Summer Health Care Provider
This position is funded by a government grant and requires a full-time student. For more information click here:
Job Description – Summer Camp Health Care Provider,2013
We also have positions available as:
Lifeguards, Senior Cabin Leaders and Junior Cabin Leaders.
If you are interested please check out our website at : www.norland.ca
Also feel free to email our director at firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to serving with you this summer!
A Slight Reflection on the Power of Prayer
July 18, 2012
I pray a lot when I’m at camp. I wish it was because I was a good Christian or a faithful minister but it’s not. It’s because I go to a lot of meetings. Every meeting generally begins or ends with prayer (sometimes even both). This is a fantastic practice. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Some days we don’t want to meet and others we are too distracted by camp life but on all those days we focus in and at the very least: pray. We have seen little prayers answered and big prayers satisfied. I appreciate those of you who are praying for us at camp and I would ask that you continue or start today.
For Camp Norland pray:
- That Jesus would be made known in all we do
- That our staff would have energy, passion and love
- That safety would abound
- That our financial needs would continue to be met
- That our staff would grow as leaders and as a team
- For continued success
- For the kids yet to come
- For peace
Also I hope I can get into some more regular blogging. My boss has been away which has meant that I am extremely occupied by work. Perhaps next week I’ll do better (after The Dark Knight Rises).
Why Letting Go is a Crucial Part of Good Leadership
July 11, 2012
I find myself with a cold at camp. My boss is away and so the day-to-day leading of camp falls to me and the people I lead. I have tried to stay afloat but it is becoming clear that my lifestyle is not helping my cold which has progressively gotten worse. This has led me to the stunning realization that, although I am a vital part of the camp team, camp is not solely dependent on me. Leadership requires us to let go of our power time and time again.
Somethings Can’t Be Taught
The reality is that every time you lead people you are (on purpose or by accident) teaching them about leadership. Many of the things you teach them they will see you doing, some you will tell them and others will grow over time. However there are some things that can’t be taught particularly when you are in the room. Like the baby bird tossed out of the nest the people you lead need opportunities to fly solo or at least without you as the captain.Being sick has afford me the luxury of delegating some of my responsibilities and my team has soared.
If You Trust Your Team You can Trust Them Without You
This is hard for leaders but good leaders learn that if they do their job well they can take their hands off the wheel periodically. It comes down to trust. I trust my team to do things when I am here but foolishly struggle to trust them when I am not. The key difference: me. It causes me to ask the question: do I really trust them? The truth I do and my ego gets in the way.
Eventually Everybody Passes On
Yup I’m going to die and soon in the future I will change roles, I will move on to the next venture and I will leave a hole that someone has to filled. Great leadership has an exit strategy. There is no better plan than building up current leaders within your organization. It may turn out that they are smarter, wiser and better leaders than you. Take the time to equip, encourage and train. When you leave they will be ready. That will be excellent.
Tyndale Video Tuesday: The Frosh of Tyndale
July 10, 2012
This is amazing. For me. This video took a stab at the then rampant emo culture at Tyndale. If you could play in “E” and sing at a strained tone you were in. Two of the best step up to the microphone and hit home a high-five of fun!
I should probably note that “Poncho” did not do his own voice… for reasons I can’t explain… or remember… maybe I just liked that line a lot… and said it myself… in retrospect that was very strange and selfish…
Reflections on Expectations from a Father and a Pastor. Guest Post: Jeff Baker
July 9, 2012
Jeff Baker is a father of two, a Biblical studies and Philosophy major at Tyndale University, and Pastor of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at Lorne Park Baptist Church. In his clearly massive amounts of free time he writes and draws the web-comic “Two by Two” (found at www.twoxtwo.ca) and even blogs every once in a while. His passion is working in youth and family ministries and when he is not doing his thang at LPBC you can usually find him speaking at some camp somewhere. He enjoys doing artsy things, watching cartoons and taking long walks on the beach. Only he doesn’t like long walks on the beach. Why does every one always say that? I hate walking. Give me the shortest distance between point A and point B thank you very much. If that happens to be the beach I guess that’s okay.
Expectations are a funny thing. I think we often become slaves to our own expectations; particularly in ministry. I became a father and a pastor all at the same time. My kids (twin boys) were born December 10th, and I started working as a youth pastor January 1st, and I was surprised at how my own expectations of what those roles entailed seemed to immobilize me. I didn’t feel worthy of either of them.
I had learned a short time earlier that God can work your expectations in a way that you never expected, but this was something totally different. I suppose in retrospect I had experienced this before shortly after I got married. I don’t think my wife had any expectations about what a husband was, but I definitely did, and I didn’t match up to my ideal. It was the same with parenthood and pastor-hood. I suddenly became overwhelmed at the thought that I was the standard of morality not only for my kids, but for other people’s kids as well. That scared me. I questioned God. I didn’t feel worthy of such a mantel. In my prayers I asked “why have you called me to this, Lord? I am a sinful man!” I reminded myself of a cross between Peter at his first meeting with Jesus in Luke, saying “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” and Luther, feeling the need to confess every little sin I ever did in the day.
This went on for a while. Longer than I’d normally like to admit. I then also had to deal with feeling like a fraud in both positions. Telling youth that Christ overcame the grave so we could find forgiveness and healing in his wings, so that we could escape guilt, while not feeling that myself. I continued to pray fervently, slumping deeper into depression (it also doesn’t help that I have Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder and an Acute Anxiety Disorder [let me tell you, there is nothing a'cute about it... apparently I deal with it through making terrible puns.], so in the winter time I go all out kookoo.), until finally God spoke to me.
God actually speaks to me a lot. I feel quite blessed having had the interactions with him that I have, as I understand that this is a rare thing. Sometimes God can be comforting. Sometimes he can be terrifying. This time he was both. He said, “It isn’t your job to teach your kids or your youth how to live a sinless life. It is your job to teach them how to repent.”
There is no righteousness without repentance. We all sin. All of us. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying or Jesus. We must show what it is to return to God. That is the role of the pastor to the church, the church to the world, the parent to the child.
So what are my expectations about parenting and pastoring now? Well, I expect to be busy; I expect to be tired. But most of all I expect to be renewed, and not just when I’ve sinned either. I expect Christ to do a renewing work in me each day, whether I’ve had a good day or a bad day. Whether I feel like an accomplished parent or pastor or not. I expect God to be continually renewing me, each day bringing me closer to perfection, because he has promised me that and I expect that God is faithful.
Philippians 1:3-6 NIV
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Why Your Attitude as a Leader is Important
July 4, 2012
I tend to wear my feelings on my face. Trouble is that everyone knows what I’m thinking or feeling. In particularly stressful times people can tell right away I am stressed because I wear it. My attitude is so apparent to everyone that sometimes I don’t even realise how it affects people. My attitude greatly affects my leadership and because of that I need to learn to keep it in check. Here is how I look at attitude:
You set the pace
If you are a leader everyone is watching you. For whatever reason all eyes are on you. Since every eye is on you your attitude has the ability to dramatically change your organization. How you respond to crisis, how you approach conflict and how you react to whatever comes across your desk will set the standard for your company. You are the person just slightly ahead of the curve setting the pace for everyone else.
You are the face
As a leader you are the public face of whatever you lead. This is best seen in the role of a pastor. Pastor’s are the face by which a church is judged. I don’t think this is right but unfortunately it is true. In other leadership roles the same thing is true. In the long run a leader (particularly a point leader) is going to be the face by which your organization is known and their attitude is going to reflect the attitude of the company.
Your attitude has influence
Leadership is all about influence. Remarkably, your attitude can shape that influence. In both cases above attitude was influencing. It was either shaping the culture inside the organization or changing perceptions outside. As a leader you need to be aware how your attitude – personally and publically – influence your whole world.
As you serve today, as you live and breath let me recommend you keep your attitude in check and begin to use it to influence the people you serve toward better.
Has anyone else seen this to be true? When?
Tyndale Video Tuesday: Dating in the Fishbowl
July 3, 2012
Love is a many splendid thing. It was and likely still is a hotbed of emotional chaos and terror mixed with some hearty gossip in the Tyndale halls. It’s just the way college students are. For that reason I made a few videos centred around finding love at Tyndale. This one features Rachel Chan (Ernie’s wife) and someone else whose name I can’t remember but had a far better singing voice than me. Here it is:
No awkward running for me today!
How to Plan for a Sermon Series
July 2, 2012
Preaching in series is powerful. I’ve written before about the value of a sermon series but how do you actually plan one? If you preach regularly you’ve probably found yourself one Monday morning (or Tuesday depending on your day off) asking yourself where do I go next? This is where the planning of a series begins:
1) Pursue the Will of God
Every pastor should pray all through out their planning but there is no better place to begin. Many times I have ideas ruminating in my head that I haven’t quite explored. Some times I have scripture that has spoken directly into my life. Some times I have nothing going on. In all these cases I can sit on my own and hope for the best or I can get on my knees and pursue. Write down everything you have and start praying over them. At this time it is great to also pray for your congregation or audience as God desires to speak to their needs. Until you get something to start working on stay here and dwell. (I think Charles Stanley recommends naps too)
2) Pick your Focus
Having found the will of God you have to begin to narrow that to your purpose. Start answering questions:
- Why is this important?
- How is this achieved?
- What does the Bible say about this?
- What does culture say about this?
- Where do I struggle with this?
- How has this effected my life, ministry, work, family?
Pour over these questions begins to flush out the focus of your series and puts you in a place to begin working on the core ideas.
3) Plan your Points
This takes the most time, energy and work. Having got some initial ideas drawing from the will of God and the exploration of that will into a focus you can now start studying. Studying and thinking (mixed with more prayer) will begin to flesh out some key ideas for your series. For some of us this looks like planning a multi-point sermon. Within your focus draw out three or four big ideas which you would love to explain and dwell on. Once you have something like a multi-point sermon tear it apart and make it into 4 or 5 or 6 parts. This is the bare-bones framework of your series.
4) Link your Ideas
Finally having been praying, studying and building major ideas toward your focus you need to find the common ground that links them together. This may simply be a title. It may be an image. Whatever you use it needs to be clear, simple and easy to connect from week to week. Some examples from my series: My last series in my recent interim work was “The Past, the Present and the Future.” No surprise each week focused on the past then the present then the future. “A Series of Events” told different stories that are important to understanding the cross of Jesus because the cross is not simply an event but the climax to a series of events. This linking is key to making a series powerful and effective.
Having put these ideas together now you can work week by week to build a series that is centred on God’s Will with a clear focus and ideas that are linked together.