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SEVEN PREACHING TOPICS YOU SHOULD REPEAT OFTEN

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Seven Preaching Topics You Should Repeat Often

Joe McKeever Date Published: 5/22/2013

Don’t be afraid of repeating yourself. Repetition is the mother of learning — and sometimes a pastor’s best friend.

“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift that is in you….” (II Timothy 1:6)

“Of these things put them in remembrance….” (II Timothy 2:14).

Recently I spent the morning hours in a school in North Carolina giving my little presentation we call “Lessons in self-esteem from drawing 100,000 people.” I sketch a lot of students, then segue into the talk which, among other things, urges the kids to stop comparing themselves with others, accept themselves as the persons God made them to be and to smile. Then it happened again.

Only five minutes after the talk, we invited the students to crowd around, and I would sketch as many as possible in the remaining time. “Look at me and smile,” I said to the first teenager. “I don’t smile,” he said. I stopped, looked at him sternly and said, “You didn’t hear a thing I said, did you?”

In truth, he had heard, but the lesson had not penetrated.

I said to the young teacher, “My telling the students these things once is not enough for them to get through. The only way to change their behavior is for you to say it over and over again. Eventually the lesson will ‘take’ with some of them.”

Some lessons have to be repeated ad infinitum.

“Let me remind you …” is a phrase that shows up a lot in the epistles of the Apostle Paul.

The most important spiritual truths need to be emphasized again and again if the hearers are to truly learn them and benefit from them.

Here are seven biblical truths we pastors need to keep telling our people in the hope that eventually most will “get it.” (The list is not meant to be exhaustive. You’ll think of other essential truths that need hammering home again and again.)

1. Jesus Christ Is The Savior Of The World And The Only Savior.

That is the theme of so much Scripture anyway, isn’t it? How could we not keep the focus on the Lord Jesus — His identity, His life and ministry, His teachings, His headship over the church and His place in our lives — if we are being true to the Word?

Pastor, keep telling them — over and over again, the theme never wears out — ”why we make so much of Jesus.” Recently, a man here in North Carolina (where I’m in revival) told of the state legislature voting to make a certain Baptist preacher their chaplain, then firing him when he refused to take “In Jesus’ name” out of his prayers. And they call this perversion “inclusiveness.” Go figure. (Note: Many a New Testament prayer did not use the actual words “in Jesus’ name,” and we should not feel ours must always, either. However, tell me that I must leave Jesus out of the prayer and I’m gone.)

Jesus Christ is Lord, for now and for eternity, and no one else is. Always stay focused on the Lord Jesus with your people.

2. The Church Is An Essential Part Of The Lord’s Plan, For Now And Forever.

And we are most definitely not referring just to your local congregation. As important as that is — this will come as a surprise to a lot of lonely myopic pastors—the Kingdom of God is more than your church.

When Jesus saved you, He knew something you were about to find out: “You cannot live this new life in isolation. You need the family of God.” They hold onto you; you hold onto them. They instruct and nurture you; you turn around and do the same. This symbiosis has been God’s plan from early on.

“I will build my church,” the Lord said in Matthew 16:18. It’s His and He builds it. The Christ-follower who claims to be able to live for Christ better without the church is insulting His Lord. The church-leader who would run the Lord’s church “for Him” is asking for big trouble fast.

3. Salvation Is All About The Cross.

Salvation is not by works of righteousness but humility, repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and what He did on Calvary.

The threat to turn salvation into a matter of works will never go away. It’s grounded in man’s way of thinking, his human (and thus self-centered) reasoning. To my knowledge, most of the religions of the world teach variations of “do this and you’re saved” or “do not do this and you are saved.” Only one, to my knowledge, proclaims that everything necessary has already been done and our task is to repent and receive it (“Him”).

When people tell me they believe their good works will get them to Heaven, I ask, “Then what was the point of the cross? If all God had to do was tell us ‘Y’all be good now, hear?’ then He sure went to a lot of trouble for nothing by sending Jesus into this world to die on a cross for our sins.” (They have no answer since they have never given these things the first thought. If you need further evidence of man’s sinful heart, there it is.)

Celebrate the grace of God, preacher, with your people. Keep them at the cross.

4. We Are Not Saved By Good Works, But Saved “Unto” God Works. (Ephesians 2:10)

Good works have a definite place in the plan of God for His people. But they are the results—the fruits, the evidence—of our salvation, not the means. One wishing to become a member of the military does not do so by wearing a uniform and saluting officers. But once he is officially inducted, he wears the uniform, obeys commands and salutes officers.

What good works does the Lord want to see in our lives? Scripture answers that again and again in places like Micah 6:8, Jeremiah 22:16 and of course, Matthew 25:35-36. I enjoy telling Harold Bales’ story of the time his church in uptown Charlotte, NC, was bringing in the homeless from the park across the street and feeding them breakfast before the morning worship service. A woman who had belonged to that church for generations and resented the presence of the unwashed in their services approached Pastor Harold one Sunday and said, “Pastor, why do we have to have those people in our church?” He said, “Because I don’t want to see anyone go to hell.” She said, “Well, I don’t want them to go to hell, either.” He said, “I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about you.”

5. If You Have Faith, You Will Pray.

In fact, nothing tells the story about your faith like your prayer life. Nothing.

Consider that you are praying to a Lord you have never seen and cannot prove. You say things to Him you would say to no one else and believe that He hears. Furthermore—and this is the clincher—90 percent of the requests you make, you’ll never know whether He answered them or not since He may choose to do so in subtle ways or at another time. But there you go, praying to Him day after day, as though He were occupying the chair next to you and everything you do today is dependent on His presence and guidance.

It is.

Pastors keep prayer before their people by encouraging them to pray at the altar during the services, by having a prayer room at the church and by encouraging prayer for specific people, needs, events and concerns.

6. A Church Exists By Evangelism And Missions As A Fire Exists By Burning.

Sharing our faith is not an option, not for the gifted only (although admittedly some are more fluent and effective than others in this), and not to be done sporadically. “As you go, make disciples” was the command of our Lord in Matthew 28:18ff.

I stood in the foyer of a church of another denomination one day, reading their poster on evangelism. (You do not need my help in identifying the denomination by what follows.) The poster said something like, “Spread the word. Tell people about John Wesley.” I thought, Wesley? Tell them about Wesley? That’s not evangelism! That’s the sort of in-house instruction one might wish to do with those who have been converted to United Methodism. But it’s no way to reach the unchurched, uncommitted or uninterested.

Churches must be creative in finding ways to mobilize their members in spreading the faith, must be aggressive in supporting those who are getting it right and doing it well, and must be alert to the distractions which would push evangelism down the list of priorities in the church’s ministries.

7. The Bible Is The Inspired Word Of God And The Spiritual Nutrition Of Believers.

If you thought other church programs would crowd evangelism off the agenda, know that life has a way of pushing God’s Word out of the minds of believers.  The process seems to be the same for everyone, and works like this …

You go a few days without reading your Bible, and soon you find yourself resisting the inner urge to get back to it. The more you cave in to that laziness that resents picking up the Word and opening it, the more you will find yourself saying (or thinking, or both): “I’ve read the Bible. I know it already. There’s nothing new there. It’s boring.”

Those are all lies out of hell. You do not know the Bible. You have not read it. (You may have read “at” it, but there is a world of content there which you have not yet mined.) It is not boring. You are boring, not the Word.

Job said, “I have esteemed the words of thy mouth more than my necessary food.” Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” David said the godly man’s “delight is in the Word of God and in that Word (law) doth he meditate day and night.”

Keep telling them, pastor. Keep preaching its insights and delighting in its treasures, and eventually they will get it.

Repetition is a great teacher. In fact, it may be the best teacher on the planet.

Joe McKeever

Joe McKeever

Dr. Joe McKeever is a preacher, cartoonist and the retired Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Currently he loves to serve as a speaker/pulpit fill for revivals, prayer conferences, deacon trainings, leadership banquets and other church events. Visit him and enjoy his insights on nearly 50 years of ministry atJoeMcKeever.com.

http://www.sermoncentral.com/pastors-preaching-articles/joe-mckeever-seven-preaching-topics-you-should-repeat-often-1582.asp?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=scnewsletter&utm_content=SC+Update+20130522

4 MAIN ROLES OF DISCIPLE MAKING

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Lindy Lowry —  May 16, 2013

by Jim Putman

23_csi_Putman_JN1How do you lead in ways that start to birth a church that carries out Jesus’ commission to all who follow Him? Real Life Ministries founder and leader, and DiscipleShift author Jim Putman identifies four specifc roles of a pastor who leads a church of disciple makers:

1. An Authentic Disciple

There’s an old saying: “Who you are thunders so loud that it drowns out your words.” To be a disciple-making pastor, you must learn to walk with God daily. This is why church leaders are people of prayer, Bible study and the inner life of the Spirit. Walking authentically with God gives legitimacy to our teaching and leadership.

Living out the life of an authentic disciple with our families is especially important. Too many church leaders neglect the most important mission field of all–their own homes. When we walk with God together with our families, this becomes the daily testing ground that authenticates the teaching and leading we do in the church.

2. A Discipleship-System Builder

A church leader, especially one involved in church planting or pastoring, is not just a disciple or even just a disciple maker. A disciple is a person who follows Jesus, is transformed by Jesus, and joins Jesus on His mission. That’s the job of every believer. A disciple maker makes disciples. Every Christian has that job. A pastor is more than that. They have been given the task of leading a church in which they are to create a system in which people are taught how to be disciples. In other words, they and their team are called to lead in the development of a church-wide system that will make disciples who make disciples. Leadership (administration, as it is called in Scripture) is a responsibility that is broader than just discipling others or leading a small group. Church planters, follow Timothy and Titus and build churches that serve as the “household of God” and the “pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:14-16 ESV). Included in Paul’s instructions to Timothy was the call to develop disciple-making leaders and systems. Paul writes about this in 2 Tim. 2:2: “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”

As a church leader, your job is to create the community-wide system in which people can be involved in relational environments for the purpose of discipleship. You are an overseer of a disciple-making community.

You need to see yourself as a systems developer or as a coach who is coaching your players. That’s why God builds teams of leaders who work together to fill in the gaps. We work together and are responsible for developing the program in which the team is trained, inspired, encouraged, challenged and fully developed. Here are some examples:

Ineffective: Since I’m trained in the Bible and theology, I’m the primary one at my church who should teach the Bible.

Effective: Since I’m trained in the Bible and theology, I can create support systems in my church that teach others how to teach the Bible in relational contexts.

Ineffective: The church pays me to take care of the congregation. That means if anyone in my congregation gets sick, I need to go visit that person.

Effective: God calls me to take care of the congregation. That means I create small groups and raise up leaders in my congregation who can go visit people when they get sick.

Ineffective: I need to be highly effective, creative and entertaining in the pulpit so I can draw a large crowd and inform people about what the Bible says.

Effective: I need to be effective, creative, biblically based and yes, even entertaining, in the pulpit so I can effectively communicate the Gospel to the lost and then get people connected with other disciple makers in the church so everyone engages in the work of the ministry.

3. A Developer of Leaders

The third main role of a church planter in a disciple-making church is that of a developer of leaders. Everyone is a disciple and should grow into an effective disciple maker, but not everyone is gifted as a leader. Identify emerging, gifted leaders and help them grow. How do you find leaders? I believe that for the most part, leaders are already there in your body; they are just underdeveloped or overlooked. God promises that He will supply all we need in terms of gifted people to complete the mission He gave us (Matt. 16:18; Rom. 12:4-8).

So we really face three problems. First, most leaders are too busy trying to do the work in the church themselves, and they don’t have time to see and develop the leaders God has sent them.

The machine needs feeding, and you have to feed it–preaching every week, planning everything, doing weddings and funerals. Is feeding the machine keeping you from noticing the undeveloped people God has sent you?

The second problem is that church leaders are looking for already-developed leaders. They don’t see the potential in their midst because it’s not yet visible. Third, pastors tend to look for a person who can do everything–an all-star player–rather than someone who can play a specific position on a great team. No one can do it all. That’s why we need the whole body of Christ.

Not everyone can lead thousands of people, but most can lead a group of three or 10. In a good church system, you need all kinds of leaders who have different leadership capabilities. We know that God gives specific gifts to people in the church to help the church work together effectively. Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 tell us that God gives spiritual gifts to all believers. All gifts work together for the overall good of the church.

When developing apprentices, we follow something like formula Dave Ferguson and Jon Ferguson write about in their book, Exponential:

I do. You watch. We talk.

I do. You help. We talk.

You do. I help. We talk.

You do. I watch. We talk.

You do. Someone else watches.

Jesus modeled something similar when he worked with the disciples, and a careful review of Paul’s writings shows that he did something like this with Timothy and Titus . As a disciple-making leader, you need a simple but effective model like this to successfully develop leaders.

4. A Vision Caster

You must also be able to cast the vision that creates the disciple-making culture of the church. You not only make it clear that everyone is to be involved in making disciples; you constantly point people to the method–relational environments–for doing this. That means sharing the vision from the pulpit and at every opportunity you have with the other leaders and they people in your church. You are continually telling them, “This is our vision, this is where we’re going, this is what we’re about.” Every sermon is both a teaching opportunity and a vision-casing opportunity, a way of showing people what God has called the church to be and to do.

What is the vision?

The vision is that the church’s primary mission is to create disciples who create other disciples, just as Jesus intended us to do. It’s helping people see that the church isn’t a social club. It’s not a hospital, it’s not a university, a big show. The church is a community that is developing people who follow Jesus, are changed by Jesus, and then join Him on His mission. State that vision, then state it again and again and again. And just when you think people are getting tired of hearing the vision, repeat it some more. People forget. People drift in their thinking. They get new ideas and want to explore different directions in a church.

Continual vision casting is particularly necessary when you meet with other leaders in the church. Discipling others can be hard work. Leaders get tired, discouraged and beat up. Continually remind and encourage your leaders to stay the course–keep making disciples who make other disciples.

 

This article is excerpted and adapted from the new book DiscipleShift (Zondervan/Exponential) by Jim Putman (with Bobby Harrington and Robert Coleman). To read the full chapter, click here to order DiscipleShift. Putman recently spoke in the opening session of Exponential 2013 in Orlando and will be one of 27 speakers at Exponential West 2013 in Orange County, Calif., this October 7-10.

 http://blog.exponential.org/2013/05/4-main-roles-of-disciple-making-leaders/#more-6095

NEW STUDY SUGGESTS U.S. CHRISTIANS ARE MORE LIKE PHARISEES THAN CHRIST

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New Study Suggests U.S. Christians Are More Like Pharisees Than Christ
A new Barna study examined the extent to which Christians in the U.S. display the actions and attitudes of Jesus as opposed to the actions and attitudes of Pharisees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a new study, the Barna Group examined the extent to which Christians in the U.S. display the actions and attitudes of Jesus as opposed to the actions and attitudes of Pharisees. Researchers developed 20 agree/disagree statements and presented them to more than 1,000 study participants to determine how closely they resembled Christ or the Pharisees.

Jesus-like actions included listening to others tell their story before witnessing, choosing to often spend time with non-Christians, and influencing multiple people to consider following Christ. Jesus-like attitudes included seeing God-given value in everyone and feeling compassion for those who do not know God. Pharisaical actions included telling people that God’s rules are paramount in their lives, avoiding spending time with homosexuals, and preferring to serve people who attend the church rather than those outside of it. Attitudes like the Pharisees included refusing to take responsibility for those who keep doing wrong, feeling grateful to be a Christian when observing others’ failures and flaws, and feeling it necessary to stand against those who are opposed to Christian values.

The survey found that 51 percent those surveyed qualified as tending toward self-righteousness rather than Christlikeness. Just 14 percent represented the attitudes and actions consistent with those of Christ. About one-fifth of Christians surveyed (21 percent) are Christlike in attitude but like Pharisees in action. Evangelical Christians were slightly more likely (23 percent) to be Christ-like in attitude and action, but were also likely to be Pharisaical in attitude but Christlike in behavior.

David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, commented on the creation of a “Christ-like” scale: “Our intent is to create some new discussion about the intangible aspects of following and representing Jesus. Obviously, survey research, by itself, cannot fully measure someone’s ‘Christ-likeness’ or ‘Pharisee-likeness.’ But the study is meant to identify baseline qualities of Jesus, like empathy, love, and a desire to share faith with others — or the resistance to such ideals in the form of self-focused hypocrisy. The statements are based on the biblical record given in the Gospels and in the Epistles and our team worked closely with a leading pastor, John Burke, to develop the survey questions.”

“Many Christians are more concerned with what they call unrighteousness than they are with self-righteousness,” Kinnaman also said. “It’s a lot easier to point fingers at how the culture is immoral than it is to confront Christians in their comfortable spiritual patterns. Perhaps pastors and teachers might take another look at how and what they communicate. Do people somehow get the message that the ‘right action’ is more important than the ‘right attitude’? Do church leaders have a tendency to focus more on tangible results, like actions, because those are easier to see and measure than attitudes?”

View two interesting infographics regarding this study at The Barna Group site.

http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/167523-u-s-christians-are-more-like-pharisees-than-christ-new-study-suggests.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=clnewsletter&utm_content=CL+Daily+20130510b