Archive for January, 2007

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Nerves: Never or Necessary?

January 31, 2007

This past weekend another young preacher asked me: “Do you ever get nervous before you preach”? “Usually” was my reply. What then followed was a most interesting conversation about the role nerves play in the delivery of sermons.

Interestingly, seasoned preachers take differing views on whether ‘nervousness’ is a legitimate associate of preaching. Bryan Chapell (cf. “Christ Centred Preaching”) sees preaching nerves as basically healthy, both from a theological and physiological perspective. In fact, Chapell even makes suggestions for better utilising them. On the other hand, John MacArthur (cf. “Preaching”) not only claims to lack nerves whilst preaching but suggests that they often betray poor preparation or the presence of pride.

So what do I think? Well, in my humble opinion: it depends. Nerves can be good or bad, and the same can be said for confidence. It all depends on their cause.

When Nerves and Confidence are Bad
There is a kind of pre-sermon fear that’s unhealthy. I think MacArthur is right when he suggests that fear of man (borne out of pride) should always be resisted. Its a painful fact that my own nervousness is often generated by the simple fact that I’m about to stand before six hundred people. But as long as nerves are tied to my self-interest they are no doubt sinful.

But does this mean to say that pre-sermon confidence is always a better scenario? Not at all. The fact is that we can be brimming with confidence yet be self-reliant, God-ignorant, and little concerned about the people we preach to. In this vein, there are many ‘confident’ preachers today who lack any sense of gravitas in their ministry.

When Nerves and Confidence are Good
On the flip side of all this, I’d like to propose that there is a nervousness (for want of a better word) that is positive. In fact, a fear of sorts is only natural. In view of the wonder of the gospel, the greatness of the One we are about to proclaim and the eternal destinies which hang in the balance, should we not tremble? For sure, this most certainly is not a fear of man, but of God. It is God who has given the mandate for the preacher to preach (2 Tim 4) and who will judge our words carefully (James 3). Therefore I pray before each sermon for a reverent fear in my heart as I come to preach.

But this does not preclude confidence in preaching (or to use the biblical word – “boldness”). Once more, this is not a confidence in self or ability but a sure trust in the sufficiency of God’s gospel and the empowerment of his Holy Spirit to proclaim it. This kind of preacher fears no man because he fears God. Nerves will remain – for the preacher speaks on behalf of the King of Kings – but he has everything he needs to boldly represent His Lord.

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Preaching that Understands the World

January 30, 2007

John Stott famously claimed that preachers should study for sermons with a bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. His point was that good preachers are not only adept in their “Word study” but also in their understanding of the world around them. In today’s Classic Materials, Don Carson offers some practical pointers towards this latter aim.

1. Most preachers ought to devote more time to reading, to reading widely. It is never right to skimp in Bible study, theology, church history, or excellent biography; but in addition, we must read books and journals and news magazines that help us understand our own age and culture.

Without here taking time to provide my own list, perhaps I may mention several principles that govern my own reading (outside of Scripture, commentaries, theology etc).

First, I try to read material from competing perspectives. I may subscribe for two or three years to the left-of-centre New York Review of Books and Sojourners, and then cancel the subscriptions and subscribe for a while to right-of-centre Chronicles.

Secondly, certain authors I regularly skim: Os Guinness, George Marsden, Thomas Sowell, James Davidson Hunter, Paul Berger, and others – not because I agree with all they say, but because they are trying to understand the culture.

Thirdly, ocassionally I read ‘blockbuster’ books, simply because so many people are reading them that I think I must find out what is shaping the minds of many fellow citizens.

Fourthly, ocassionally I devote a block of time – six months, say, or a year – to try to get inside some new movement. For instance, I devoted a considerable block to reading the primary authors in the various schools of deconstruction.

Fifthly, I have sometimes subscribed for a period of time to a first-class literary journal such as Granta. Sixthly, I ocassionally subscribe to reports from reputable pollsters, to discover drifts and trends in the nations – Gallup, Yankelovich, and others.

Not everyone reads at the same rate; not everyone’s ministry requires the same extent of reading. Some manage far more than I. At no time should such reading ever squeeze out the primary importance of understanding the word of God. But selective rapid reading of many sources can help preachers better understand the world in which they serve.

2. Discussion with friends and colleagues with similar interests isa great help. This may be formal, for instance an agreed eveningonce a month to discuss book X or film Y in the light of Christian commitments; it may be informal, depending, of course, on the structures and friendships of one’s life. No-one understands everything; thoughtful, widely read and devout friends are to be cherished and nourished.

3. Nowadays there are some good tapes. I sometimes drive substantial distances, but never without tapes. The Mars Hill Tapes offer good value for money. In addition, many ministries today are recorded, and preachers do well to listen to other preachers who are particularly gifted in the handling of the Word and in applying it to life.

4. It is essential to talk with non-Christians, whether one on one, in small groups, or in large crowds. There is no more important avenue towards understanding our world.

The above exerpt is from the book “When God’s Voice is Heard.”

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Ten Reasons to Take Time Out

January 29, 2007

I’ve just returned from a weekend away in the Highlands of Scotland. Like previous years, this was a refreshing time spent with twenty young Christian men. A rich combination of food, sports and studying the bible – what more could a man want!

Feeling much refreshed by Saturday evening, I began to ponder what makes such retreats beneficial. I jotted down ten reasons. While some of these are peculiar to the weekend I was on (a group retreat without family), I hope that the following list might encourage you to book similar time in your diary.

When I take time-out…

1. I appreciate the beauty and grandeur of God’s creation- something I rarely see in the ‘concrete jungle’

2. I relish unhurried time in the Word and prayer

3. I enjoy healthy exercise in the fresh air

4. I miss my wife and children and am reminded that they are a precious gift from a generous God

5. I slow down to savour and enjoy life, being able to laugh more and appreciate present blessings

6. I remember to eat well and on time

7. I distance myself from electronic devices which tend to steal my time and sap my energy

8. I build deeper friendships through prolonged conversations – something nigh impossible in the ‘catching up’ of a typical Sunday

9. I face different challenges than I do every other day (like helping push cars up ice-covered hills on a pitch black Friday night…)

10) I better remember God, the gospel and the reason I ‘do’ ministry

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Workman’s Toolbox

January 27, 2007

This Saturday feature is what I call Workman’s toolbox. Time to kick back for a few minutes and simply click the mouse to some useful links. If you’re a preacher, you may find these especially useful.

Preaching
* Some great audio from a recent conference called “Cruciformity: shaped by the cross”, featuring Tim Keller and Dan Doriani. (HT: Justin Taylor)
* A super post by a new member of the Expository Thoughts team, Randy McKinion: Challenges to Preaching the Old Testament
* The Thirsty Theologian gives a list of recommended sermons.
* Read about some of the best NT Greek texts which are online over at Transforming Sermons.
* Over at Soul Preaching, Sherman Harwood Cox II gives 5 things he wants from a sermon
* Justin Buzzard reviews a book on preaching

Theology
* The folks over at Fide-O have a great post explaining the key functions of a pastor: What Pastors Do.
* Wayne Grudem continues his online systematics lectures, and has recently concluded a three part series on the doctrine of miracles (parts one, two and three)

Miscellaneous
* A quite moving post by Al Mohler on lessons learned through his recent health crisis.
* Over at titus2talk, my wife Nicki has been offering “Your weekly dose of Susannah Spurgeon.” Read parts one, two and three of this intriguing series.
* Bob Kauflin (At Worship Matters) answers the question: “Are we lying to God when we sing?”
* Justin Buzzard mourns the death of his ipod. Very funny indeed.

Finally…
… a couple of great honours for my fledgling blog this week: made King for a Week by Tim Challies, added to Challies blogroll and also to that of Thabiti Anyabwile. Sadly, my wife went one better (@titus2talk) and was spotted by Desiring God – no doubt for my humility…

Soli Deo Gloria.

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The Case for Preaching (part 4)

January 26, 2007

Strangely (but pleasingly), since I began a short series “The Case for Preaching” four weeks ago, a number of blogs have started posting on a similar theme. Unlike my cursory reflections, many of these posts are much more in-depth and lay out a real case for the ongoing significance of preaching. So find below a few of the links and tell me what you think.

A Case for Consecutive Exposition @ Expository Thoughts
Expository Preaching: A Display of What is There @ Expository Thoughts
Benefits of Expository Preaching @ Steward of Secret Things
Why Should A Pastor Be Preoccupied with Preaching God’s Word @ Fide-O

In addition, at the suggestion of John Brand, Steve Weaver recently listed his top 10 favourite books on preaching. I can’t resist throwing in my tuppence worth:

1. Christ-Centred Preaching by Bryan Chapell. (I agree with SW that this is the best single volume to give to any young preacher)

2. Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd Jones.

3. The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper.

4. Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon

5. The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges

6. Preaching by John MacArthur

7. When God’s Voice is Heard by David Jackman and Christopher Green

8. I believe in Preaching (Between Two Worlds) by John Stott

9. Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture by Graham Goldsworthy

10. Preaching & Teaching with Imagination by Warren Wiersbe

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John Piper on 1 Thessalonians 4

January 25, 2007

I’m neither alone nor ashamed in saying I regard John Piper as one of my favourite living preachers. This is a man who defines preaching as “expository exultation.” Appropriately, Piper models it as well as anybody.

For today’s “Workman Watch” I’ve chosen to review one of his sermons with a rather long title: “This is the Will of God for You: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” A few reasons why I picked this particular sermon…

Firstly, because it models how to preach with exegetical accuracy and emotional appropriateness on a challenging topic. I for one need to see good examples of preaching on difficult themes. Secondly, many people hear Piper at Conferences not realising that his week to week style involves trawling through a couple of verses in an expository style. And finally, on a personal level, this sermon helped me a great deal when I had to preach on this same text a few years back. Do take time to listen to it and compare notes. You can read the sermon here. Its a cracker!

What was the opening sentence?
“For three weeks now we’ve been working on this series – a little mini series between Romans 8 and 9.”

What was the introduction about? This was a review of the previous two sermons (seeking the lost; seeking social justice). Piper brought out the point that Christians don’t have to choose between evangelism, social justice and sexual purity, and addressed those who feel that Christians are hung up on sex. He points out that Jesus managed to succeded in all three areas: seeking lost people, social justice and sexual puritiy.

What was the main point? Sexual purity is one of God’s priorities for His people and we will only attain this by knowing Him better.

What was the sermon structure?

1. What?
a) sexual impurity – avoid it (fornication and adultery .v 4)
b) sexual purity – pursuit it (walking to please God .v 1, sanctification .v 3, holiness .v 7)

2) Why?
a) the incentive of pleasing God (v 1)
b) the incentive of doing the will of God (v 2)
c) the incentive of honour (v 4)
d) the incentive of Christian love (v 6a)
e) the incentive of God’s vengence (v 6b)

3) How?
Knowing God (v 5 – “not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God“)
a) know the patience of God (v 1 – “more and more”)
b) know the power of God (3:13 – “May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of God the Father)
c) know the preciousness of God

Did the preacher cover the scope of the text? Thoroughly. I especially appreciated that this wasn’t merely a “how to” sermon, but that all the aspects of the text (the what, the why and the how) were dealt with.

What aspects of the preacher’s style did you appreciate?
A number of things, not all related:
i) Piper’s intensity. No matter how many times I hear this man, his passion takes me aback. There is a palpable intensity, which combines a seriousness for the subject and a love for the people.
ii) Piper’s ability to be frank without being unhelpful in his language. On subjects such as this, many preacher’s seem either to not live in the real world (where things like “pornography” and “masturbation” exist) or, on the other hand, seem to revel in speaking about risque things.
iii) Piper’s attempt to speak to children in terms they could understand. Not only will this benefit the children, but parents are seeing how they might talk to their children on such matters. Admirable indeed.

Was there anything in the sermon that you would query? I did wonder a little about Piper making so much out of the last point – which is only an inference from verse 5. Not to say that the logical deduction couldn’t be made (i.e. if the heathen’s not knowing God leads to sexual impurity, then knowing God will lead to purity). I’m just not sure this was a point Paul was making here.

What one thing will you remember in a week’s time? Piper’s description of how someone might pray whilst on the internet to maintain their sexual purity. (“Lord, lift my hand from that mouse!”)

Is there a single aspect of Piper’s preaching that you will attempt to incorporate into your own preaching? Piper’s sheer passion for the subject and the people. This, I know, can’t simply be mimicked but has to come from much time spend with God in prayer and the Word. Earnestness, however that may look like through my personality, is a quality Piper models for me in abundance.

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Firm Foundations (part 2)

January 24, 2007

Following on from last week’s first installment, we’re back for “Firm Foundations” part two. Read below the continued explanation of how Peter Grainger (the senior Pastor of Charlotte Baptist Chapel, Edinburgh) prepares his sermons. This excerpt comes from his book Firm Foundations – available from Christian Focus publishing.

So how do I spend those hours in the study preparing to preach? There is no ‘divine blueprint’ but the following is my normal practice. After preaching on Sunday, I take Monday as my day off (a personal Sabbath for rest and renewal). The one or two sermons which have occupied so much thought and effort during the previous week, and have now been discharged, are relegated from the forefront to the background of my thinking – not exactly ‘deleted’ but at least placed in the ‘recycle bin.’

So on Tuesday morning I (hopefully) begin with a refreshed mind and a relaxed body – preparing to preach on the chosen passage and topic on the coming Sunday morning or evening – or both. In Charlotte Chapel, we normally have an Assistant Pastor who will preach twice a month which means that I have two Sundays each month when I am only preaching once. This allows me some latitude to do other things in those weeks – and also to hear God’s Word from someone else on those Sundays. I try to avoid the preacher’s syndrome of speaking elsewhere every time I have a free Sunday and to be as good a listener to others as I hope they are to me.

Groundwork
My first task is groundwork – to familiarise myself with the Biblical passage in order to make sure that I understand what it says and means. To help me do this, I read the text in several different translations ranging from the more literal through to paraphrases (we use the New International Version at Charlotte Chapel). A knowledge of the original languages (Greek and Hebrew) is useful though not essential as there are many excellent commentaries and other resoureces which define words and meanings.

Commentaries and other books fall into two broad categories. Some major on exegesis – explaining the meaning of the text to those who were its original recipients, often with detailed analysis of words and phrases in the original languages. Others, including books of sermons, focus on application – trying to understand the relevance of the text for us today. Many include both categories but are usually stronger on one than the other.

As I read these books, I make rough notes on anything useful, noting any useful sentences or sections that might be worth quoting directly (If I do so, I always acknowledge the source – out of courtesy and honesty, and also hopefully to encourage others to buy and read the book).

D.A Carson’s New Testament Commentary Survey is a useful resoruce which summarises the strengths and weaknesses of commentaries for the New Testament. And, although he preached over a century ago, I find that Spurgeon’s sermons usually shed fresh light on any given passage.

Building Work
After groundwork, comes building-work – an attempt to put the material into some semblance of order. Although I accept that some hearers and speakers favour a holistic approach to preaching and learning- describing a broad theme and then coming at it from different angles – I am not one of them. I am a linear progressive thinker and preacher and so I find it helpful to analyse the structure of the passage or theme and divide it into several major points (usually anything from two to four or five depending on the topic). I try to make these as memorable as possible – using alliteration or balanced paraphrases, so long as they are not forced. This will also be determined by the type of passage – narrative is very different from discourse, parable from proverb, or Gospel from Epistle. I sometimes struggle to find a good structure and find that sleeping on it is often beneficial.

Application
Perhaps the hardest pasrt of all is application and, rather than spending thirty minutes on explanation and then only the last few minutes on application, I try to include the application as I go along with each major point. However, I usually attempt to isolate the major point which summarises the theme of the passage and whcih the hearer can take away.

I find that a suitable title for the sermon can help to do this. Again, I know that some people, such as Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones did not favour title, but it is surely significant that the editors of his sermons have given titles to each of them! The title can also arouse interest ahead of time – depending on the choice. A church I visited recently had an attractive leaflet with the sermon topics, but the title for Luke 8:40-48 was ‘Woman with haemorrhage‘! Something more imaginative such as ‘Living with long-term illness’ or ‘Hoping for healing’ might have attracted a wider audience!

Another aid to focusing on the theme is the opening section of the sermon. Working on the well-known premis, ‘If you don’t strike oil in the first five minutes, stop boring!’ I choose with care an opening illustration to catch the listener’s attention. This can be drawn from the personal experience or from current news or some topical issue which engages with the heareres.

For example, on one ocassion, I was due to speak on the attitude of Jesus to the Sabbath and in that very week I read in the newspaper that the Chief Rabbi in Israel had announced that throwing snowballs on the Sabbath was against the Mosaic law (unless those you threw them at gave their permission!) It made an excellent introduction to Sunday’s topic!

Finally, I try to drive the main point home with a concluding illustration – sometimes returning to the one with which I began or even adding some further details.

I prepare very full notes from which to preach. When I began preaching in my teens, I prided myself on three points written on the back of an old envelope. As I have gotten older (and wiser?) I find that writing out in full helps me to think through what I want to say. I then familiarise myself with the material and use the notes as a prop rather than reading verbatim from them.

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Good Preachers? Good Husbands?

January 22, 2007

Today’s Beyond the Workshop reproduces an article I ‘guest posted’ on my wife’s blog last November. Its on the theme of a pastor’s marriage. Two months on, I’m pondering how well I’m doing at this. And, after a heavy week of sermon preparation, I’m asking myself, ‘have I worked harder on my sermon than at my marriage?’

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)

For most husbands – whether admitted to or not – these words are terrifying. I know. Having been asked to ‘guest blog’ on the subject of a husbands’ role in marriage, I’ve been reminded again of my many short-comings. What a standard: as Christ loved the church.

Thankfully, help is at hand. As well as biblical examples and godly present day models of sacrificial husbandship, we have two thousand years of church history to instruct us. It’s on this latter front that Doreen Moore’s “Good Christians, Good Husbands?” offers a valuable resource. In this page-turning book, Moore examines the colourful marriages of three renowned evangelicals: John Wesley, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards. What becomes clear is that while all made a significant impact for the gospel worldwide, they were variously successful on the home-front.

Read the rest of the article here.

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A Great Honour

January 22, 2007

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Though reluctant to break with my blog format ;), with slight amazement and great appreciation I can report that Tim Challies (“the world’s most famous Christian blogger”) has pronounced me King for a Week.

Read about it here.

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Workman’s Toolbox

January 20, 2007

Find below some more links around the blogs, with a special eye for things preacher’s might appreciate. If you are new to Unashamed Workman, read here an explanation of the blog format.

Preaching
* John Piper has a new DVD available especially for pastors: “Brothers – Feel, Think, Preach God”
* Expository Thoughts had two excellent posts this week on expository preaching: Expository Preaching – A display of what is there; and A Case for Consecutive Exposition
* Steve Weaver talks about one of his favourite preachers
* A facinating post by Phil Johnson examining Spurgeon’s approach to preaching, which was not always expository
* JRR Tolkien’s thoughts on good preaching (HT: Eternal Perspectives)
* Fide-O suggests ideas as to how our congregations can better perform “Expositional Listening”

Theology
* Gospel Driven Life considers the possibility that we Christians are often Preaching to the Choir. (parts one, two and three)
* Pulpit Magazine opens up a can of worms, responding to the claim that the KJV is the only version to preach from
* This may interest a UK audience: Peter Maiden exemplifying “black preaching” to a Carribean audience!
* Find here a review of a book I’m about to read: Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen
* Joel Beeke shares 5 Puritan Evangelism Lessons (HT: Old Truth)

Miscellaneous
* Adrian Warnock is back blogging again and pondering why he receives “Better than I deserve.”
* For those who enjoy linguistics and all things regarding translations (and even for those who don’t, but should!) Better Bibles is a blog I’d highly recommend.
* Mark Driscoll asks Twenty Leadership Questions for Building a City Within a City. (HT: Buzzard Blog)
* Worship Matters considers Putting Together a Worship Song List
* Canadian Tim Challies is a brave man – he gives 16 things he hates about America.

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The Case for Preaching (part 3)

January 19, 2007

This week I’d like to pick up a question raised in last week’s post. Should we think of “preaching” as something that is necessary within Christian gatherings? Or is this, in the biblical sense, only something to be restricted to evangelism?

The argument is that in the NT preaching almost always (some say always) occurs in the context of evangelism. On the other hand, Christians in the New Testament are ‘taught’ the word of God. It was even suggested by one commentor last week that preaching to believers might actually ‘stunt’ their growth (for an example of this argument, see this article).

My own view is that we cannot be so hard and fast with these distinctions. At least we shouldn’t preclude the idea that believers should be preached to. I think that Jay Adams’ comment below is reasonably fair:

Strictly speaking, the principal biblical words translated “preaching” do not correspond exactly to that activity to which we affix the label. They are somewhat narrower in scope. These words, kerusso and euangelizo, are used in the New Testament to describe “heralding” and “announcing the gospel.” They refer to evangelistic activities. The former always has to do with public proclamation of the good news, while the latter may be used to describe making the gospel known to either unsaved groups or individuals…On the other hand, the word didasko, translated “to teach,” more nearly corresponds to our modern use of the word preach, and has to do with the proclamation of truth among those who already believe the gospel…Though at times didasko seems also to be limited to evangelistic speaking, and occasionally it is possible that kerusso may refer to preaching to the saints… There are, then, two kinds of preaching (because of a deeply impressed use of the English word I shall use the term “preaching” to cover both evangelistic and pastoral speaking): evangelistic preaching (heralding, good news) and pastoral or edificational preaching (teaching).” Adams, J, Preaching with a Purpose, p 5-6

Building on the latter part of the quote, many have noted that in the NT preaching and evangelism do (more than ocassionaly) come together, and sometimes virtually overlap. Thus…

“…this distinction between preaching (as announcement to the unconverted) and teaching (as explanation, clarification, application, and exhortation to those already informed) even in New Testament times, was not always clear. Sometimes, people spoke interchangeably about the practice of teaching and preaching. Thus, whereas Matthew 4:23 declares that Jesus was “teaching in the synagogues;” Mark and Luke indicate that he was “preaching” (Mark 1:39, Luke 4:44). In Jerusalem, the same apostles who were “proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” were at the same time “teaching the people” (Acts 4:2). Whereas the term preaching consistently refers to the message announced, the term teaching may have people as its object.

In Antioch, the work of Paul and Barnabas is described as “teaching and preaching the word of the Lord” (Acts 15:35). Since teaching is mentioned before preaching in this verse, it may be that the major emphasis of their work at this place and time was in teaching the brethren while their secondary emphasis was on preaching to the unconverted. In any case, preaching and teaching go together. He who preaches (announces to the unconverted) also generally teaches (explains, clarifies, applies, and exhorts those who are already familiar with what has already been announced).” (Ref)

All this to say that I think drawing unyielding boundaries between the two is unhelpful. Perhaps, let me suggest, all clear preaching must include aspects of teaching, whilst all biblical teaching requires an element of gospel preaching. In this regard, I’d recommend Tim Keller’s article: we never get beyond the gospel. (HT: JT) We certainly need to keep preaching the gospel to Christians!

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Thabiti Anyabwile on Ephesians 4:1-16

January 18, 2007

For this week’s Workman Watch its Thabiti Anywabwile. This sermon was preached on October 26th 2006, and I especially selected it as it includes some important teaching on the church. Take time, if you can, to listen to the sermon and compare notes.


By the way, I couldn’t find a picture of Thabiti big enough to post – so instead here’s a snap of a beach in the Caymen Islands where he ministers. Thabiti, if you ever need pulpit supply you know where to find me!

What was the opening sentence? “Have you ever applied for a job you thought sounded really great; really excited about it, right down your alley?”

What was the introduction about? Spoke about the importance of job descriptions in the corporate world of society, but just as much in the corporate world of the church. It raised the question, “what is our job as a member of the gathering of Christ?”

What was the structure?
1. As Christians we are called to preserve the unity of the church
2. As Christians we are calledto serve the church until she is mature

Conclusion – an evaluation (how are we doing on these two points?)
– are we completely humble? (v 2)
– are we completely gentle? (v 2)
– are we making every effort to maintain unity? (v 3)
– are you maturing (v 13,14)

What was the main point?
The main responsibilities of every church member is to preserve unity in, and serve the body of Christ.

What illustrations were used? An opening illustration about applying for a job, which immediately engaged the congregation’s experience. The brief illustration: are you a porcupine Christian (on the point of gentleness) was very memorable.

What were the applications? Two general applications about unity and service, and a some pointed challenges at the end about applying humility and gentleness.

What aspects of the preacher’s style did you find helpful? One of the aspects that most stuck out was Thabiti’s dialogical style. He very naturally converses with the audience, constantly asking questions, and responding to them. On several occaions he raised the very question that had popped into my head. I also appreciated the sermon structure: a slightly unusual but effective approach of dealing with the general trends of the text first, before having an extended conclusion which came back to several pointed specifics. Finally,

What will you remember a week from now? Thabiti’s contention that the main way provided in the NT for the growth of a Christian is through service in the Christian community. That while quiet times are no where commanded in the bible as essential to our Christian growth, all across the NT especially, service is commended.

What is one thing that you will incorporate into your own preaching after listening to this sermon? I learned so much, its hard to choose. I guess the way Thabiti included non-Christians in what was primarily a sermon aimed at Christians was most exemplary. For example, in the middle of the first point about unity, several minutes were taken to explore a non-churched person’s perspective on the lack of unity in the contemporary church. The common objections were raised and dealt with.

To hear Thabiti Anyabwile’s sermons regularly, here is the sermon audio page. He blogs at Pure Church.

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