Constant Faith

I recently had the privilege of speaking on Daniel & The Lion’s Den. I’m really intrigued by Daniel. Most of the stories in the Old Testament are stories of redemption. Moses killed some people; then he led the children of Israel out of Egypt. David slept with Bathsheba, but then he repented and was known as a man after God’s own heart. Jonah ran from God, but eventually after spending three days in the belly of a fish, he turned around and did the right thing. You get the idea.

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Daniel’s story doesn’t read like that. By the time Chapter 6 rolls around, Daniel has led a faith-filled life and finds himself second in charge of the entire kingdom, just behind King Darius. Daniel is a story of consistency. We never see his faith waiver. In Daniel Chapter 6, he’s described as faithful, responsible, and trustworthy.

But the most amazing part of Daniel’s story to me, isn’t found in the lion’s den. It’s found in his reaction to the king’s decree. King Darius orders a decree that no one can pray to anyone except him for the next 30 days. Here is Daniel’s response,

But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Daniel 6:10

Daniel didn’t post a complaint on Facebook. He didn’t tweet about how unfair the new law was. He didn’t go house to house with a petition for the law to be repealed. He just did what he had always done. He prayed and then trusted God with the result.

I think many of us who call ourselves Christ followers would do well to follow his example.

In what ways are you living a life of constant faith? How can you get better?

Some Churches Don’t Want Growth

I had a pastor walk into my office this week that was broken. In three hours he would resign from the church he had poured his life into over the past five years.

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He wouldn’t be resigning because of moral failure. His love for his wife, family, and community was evident to anyone who came in contact with him. He wouldn’t be resigning because of poor performance. The church attendance had grown by over twenty percent under his care. He wouldn’t be resigning to take a new position elsewhere. He had little idea as to where he would go from here.

He was resigning because the church refused to change.

Sure, they had made some changes along the way. They had made some concessions to the worship style they preferred. They had tried small groups but chose to keep Sunday School classes. They even had done some remodeling and updating to the church.

Everything seemed to be going well. They weren’t Elevation Church, but they were making progress.

Then one day it all fell apart.

Some churches will only budge so far before they decide to dig in their heels. For this church, accountability and standards for their leadership team was the breaking point. For other churches, it’s the style of music or Sunday School or the color of the carpet in the sanctuary.

The fact is many churches have no interest in change because they have no interest in growing. They would rather have the familiar than take a chance on God doing something extraordinary. They would rather choose comfort over conversion. Not realizing the entire time, they’re choosing death over life.

Yet, so many pastors are stuck in these types of churches, and they feel like they’re running out of options.

If this is you, let me tell you what your options are:

  1. Start Over – Resign. Go somewhere else. Plant a church. Don’t waste the calling God has placed on your life in a church that refuses to allow you to act on that calling. Don’t waste your passion. Don’t put your wife and family through it. Don’t waste what God has given you.

Or

  1. Bury Your Heart – Forget about your passions. Forget about your calling. Give up on making a difference. Forget about evangelism. Say things like “We’re not growing in number, but we’re growing disciples.” Even though you know at the forefront of being a disciple is the desire to invite others into a relationship with Jesus. Tell yourself whatever it takes to bury the desire within you to see people far from God fall in love with Jesus.

The choice is up to you.

Do you work at a church that refuses to change? What’s keeping you there?

Five Tips to Create Better Sermons

Most pastors preach on average forty to fifty times a year. Over a twenty-year career, it’s not unheard of for a pastor to preach over one thousand sermons. To put that into perspective the longest running show on television, The Simpsons, has broadcast 583 episodes over the past 26 years and has used 108 different writers to do it.

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The amount of content a pastor is asked to create is astronomical, over a thousand sermons in a twenty-year career, and we haven’t even factored in pastors who preach a different message on Sunday nights and/or Wednesdays.

It’s easy to see how one could quickly get overwhelmed.

The simple solution is to commit to preaching less. Find someone to fill in. The church will survive without you for a Sunday, I promise. I’d limit yourself to preaching less than 45 weekends a year, forty if your preaching multiple services.

Preaching less will help, but you still need to create forty plus sermons a year that connect with your audience. This is no easy task. So let me offer a few suggestions to help.

  1. Fill the Well

Too many pastors get in the habit of only reading the Bible for sermon preparation and not reading the Bible for personal transformation. Don’t make that mistake. Don’t let sermon prep take the place of your personal time with God. Commit time each day to digging into God’s word. Don’t fall into the trap of forgetting your first love.

  1. Capture Ideas

In order to capture ideas, you need to find ideas. Read a book, read a blog, listen to a podcast, and listen to other preachers. The options are endless. Then jot these ideas down. You can use the old school way and just get a notebook, or I suggest using an app like Evernote. Pastor Ron Edmonson has created an Ebook called “Evernote for Pastors” that is an excellent resource.

  1. Write in Batches

I wrote an earlier post talking about why I believe sermon series are better than stand alone sermons. A great thing about series is you can write your sermons in batches. That means when you’re writing, you’re not just thinking about one sermon, but you’re planning and outlining multiple sermons at the same time. This helps you write multiple sermons in less time.

  1. Get Feedback

Too many pastors never ask for feedback. I think it’s a good idea not just to get feedback after you preach, but get feedback on your sermon before you preach. Bounce ideas off your staff, your friends, and your spouse. Each individual will have unique perspectives and ideas that can help shape and mold your sermon.

  1. Use a Calendar

I highly recommend using a preaching calendar. Jeff Henderson does a great job of showing you how to set one up in this video. When you plan out your preaching in advance, you eliminate those weeks when you’re in panic because you have no idea what you’re doing on Sunday.

Creating sermons can be hard. Hopefully, these tips will make it a little easier.

I’d love to hear your tips. Please share them in the comments below.

For more tips subscribe to the blog and I’ll send you my new Ebook “8 Steps to More Impactful Preaching”.