Episode 109: Developing Preachers and Teachers

In this episode we sit down to talk about some of the ins and outs of intentionally developing preachers and teachers in our congregations.

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Our conviction is that the word of God has to “go”, but we need to train people up to do this… 

A lot of churches depend only on seminaries to train preachers and teachers… but it’s not until you’re in the soil of the local congregation that you really develop your voice in preaching and teaching… 

The Bible is full of stories of God putting his hand on people, and the church’s responsibility is to call that out of them… 

Developing preachers and teachers need both opportunities and honest feedback… when I was a young pastor, a guy invited me to preach weekly at a truck stop chapel… that was where I got my start, but the problem was that I got no feedback… 

It’s a little like a musician getting started—if you can play in clubs and bars, you’ll get good pretty fast, and then when you’re on the big stage with all the support, it’s easier than if you just got thrown up there… you need to say “yes” to opportunities that come your way… 

Too many preachers are looking for instant success… the hard work of getting better requires a lot of work… after a hundred times—maybe—you’ll begin to find your voice… by two hundred messages you should be comfortable in your own skin… 

We need to create rooms where we review the work (of preaching) that we’ve done, and then preview the work that’s coming up… 

It’s important to surround yourself with multigenerational, multiethnic, and different gender voices… I’m trying to surround myself with people that will help me understand the people I’m pastoring…

We also need to create layers of opportunities… it doesn’t have to be 30-minute sermons from the start… even two to three-minute offering moments are a great place to start… 

Help people understand that preaching is a speech-act… it needs to be something that we can listen to and enjoy… listen to the great storytellers and writers… 

If we’ve got the greatest story that’s ever been told, we ought to be able to handle it beautifully..

Episode 107: Four Rules for Preachers

In this episode we sit down to talk about some of the marks of genuine Spirit-inspired preaching.

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What I found fascinating reading through Micah is that the same word used for “wind” is the word used for “Spirit”… one wind is holy and one is not… not everyone knows how to discern the difference… 

Pastors should pray before they preach… we are under tremendous pressure these days… there are thousands of land mines… the temptation is to fall under the fear of man and to preach in a way that simply satisfies the base…  

The occupational hazard of the experienced preacher is that we can do this from our heads… we get good at outlining ideas, but we can forget that a good sermon is supposed to come from the living center of our union with God… 

Pastors should revere the Scriptures… right now there are a lot of people demanding content that is not Scriptural… they want us to preach on certain topics that are not informed and shaped by the Holy Scriptures… 

I believe it is going to become more and more important for pastors to explain why these texts are still important for us today… we need to get back to helping people understand the overarching narrative of the Scriptures… 

One of the things that we have learned is that by preaching the Scriptures, we get all the “felt needs” topics thrown in… we just have to be willing to hang in there for the long game… 

When you do preach it should be producing the fruits of the Spirit… what kind of people is your preaching producing…? How is it shaping them…? And in what spirit are you preaching the text…? Anger and divisiveness are not of the Holy Spirit… 

Many people think that the issues we’re seeing in our culture demand an angry response… I am very concerned about what’s happening in our culture… but I want to speak out on them in a radically new way… 

Pastors should be pointing people to Jesus… I know that sounds obvious, but the Great Commission has not been amended… we have the same assignment the saints of old had: to bring people to Jesus…

Episode 055: Good Manners for Guest Speakers

In this episode we sit down to talk about the what’s and why’s behind choosing guest speakers, as well as some “good manners” for guest speakers to abide by.

 

 

Part of the reason to have guest speakers is to bring something to your church that doesn’t exist on your team… like a new voice or a new thought… the body of Christ is much broader and more diverse than most churches can represent out of their own pulpits…

 

Another reason to have a guest speaker is because I want my church to know who my friends are… I want them to know who our overseers are… who is speaking into my life and the life of my staff…

 

When our guest speakers come in, they are interested in us… they want to check in on us… there’s a sense of spiritual enrichment…

 

95% of the time, when I invite a guest speaker, they are pastors of their own congregation… they understand what I’m after and trying to accomplish… they are there to care deeply for the sheep… they’ve come in to add to my work and love the people who are in front of them…

 

Here are some good manners for guest speakers… first, find out how long they want you to speak for and finish on time…

 

Secondly, dress for the culture of the church you’re speaking at… if they do suit and tie, you do suit and tie… if they do jeans and a t-shirt, do jeans and a t-shirt…

 

Third, don’t create any messes… there are sermons I can preach to my congregation that I could never preach to another person’s congregation…

 

Fourth, let other people sell your books… I believe in my books but when I go to another person’s church, I don’t sell my product… if they want to sell them, that’s fine, but that’s not why I’m there…

 

Fifth, don’t be demanding… be low-maintenance… if you’re going to be a blessing, then go to be a blessing…

 

Lastly, go there to learn… a lot of times, my best ideas have come from my preaching trips… if we go in as learners, prepared to ask a lot of questions, it’s amazing the ideas we’ll get…

 

A good guest speaker is a person who, when they leave, the congregation is more in love with their church, and not with the ministry that just got on a plane and left town…

 

I tell young pastors to find older, faithful leaders who are finishing the race well, and have them be your guest speakers… your young congregation will thank you…

Episode 050: The Pastor As A Student

In this episode we sit down to talk about the pastor as a student. Why is it important that a pastor be an ongoing learner, and what does that look like?

 

 

One of the traps for a pastor is to only listen to your peers, to people who are right where you are… we need input that is qualitatively greater than our output…

 

We are those who have been entrusted with a message… for pastors, our work is words… so much of our life and ministry lives at the level of perception… that means that the pastor is the ‘first student’ in the congregation…

 

It’s too easy to let the culture at large co-opt our language, where our words all of a sudden carry meanings that wouldn’t have resonated with followers of Christ 1500 years ago… so we’re fighting for an accurate perception of God’s world as it lives at the level of language…

 

We need to be a student because our faith is a received faith… we shouldn’t be the first ones to talk this way about God…

 

In terms of a study rhythm, a lot of us try to keep the mornings open to read, write, or take notes on something… the trick is to devote a few hours a week to study that is not sermon-related…

 

When all you’re doing is taking in and then cranking content back out, it becomes functional and utilitarian… I feel a displeasure in my soul over that… it’s important to submit yourself to the pleasure of reading and learning that is not directly useful to your preaching…

 

All of our learning goes somewhere… we’ve been entrusted with the most beautiful story in the world, you need to tell it beautifully… we submit ourselves to the wordsmiths so that we can tell the story well… I don’t want to tell the greatest story in a mechanical or sleepy way…

 

The enemy of so much of this is our phones… I used to wander around the office with a book, but now I’m [on my phone] scanning Twitter… something is taking up our time… we need to be proactive and choose sources that nourish us, since we are giving out so much…

 

Don’t just read the stuff that’s been written in the last 15 years or so… access the ancients because they are there for you… that’s part of how we sit at the feet of the great cloud of witnesses…

Episode 037: Courageous Preaching

For this conversation, we discuss how courageous preaching requires us to say things that are costly.

 

 

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I feel quite honestly that pastors are choosing the charming, winsome, attractional side of preaching at the expense of calling people into the greater good of following Jesus…

 

Every pastor in America is being compared to the four or five most popular preachers… all week long our congregations have instant access to the ten or twelve most popular preachers, and then they gather to listen to us and we’re getting compared to them…

 

The pressure I feel is to be like those other preachers… but that’s not my mission… my mission is to shepherd my congregation in a way that challenges them…

 

Jesus said that it wasn’t the healthy who needed a doctor but the sick… the preacher like the doctor doesn’t have to be boring or mean to be effective but they do have to be truthful… if at the end of the day we’re not diagnosing what’s wrong, we’re not doing our job…

 

If our preaching is void of the medicine that will heal people, we’re giving them appetites for things that will not change their lives…

 

John says that Jesus came full of grace and truth… if we’re preaching the person of Christ, we’re getting grace and truth at the same time…

 

We should be aware of social injustice and social ills… if they are talking about it in the lobby of the church, you should talk about it in the pulpit of the church… if you’re not going to address it, then your congregations will search for answers in other places…

 

Our primary focus, however, is not preaching about social ills… our call is to point people to the person of Christ… our people should walk in with questions about social brokenness, and walk out with a compass that points them to the person of Jesus…

 

When we’re really preaching Jesus, we wind up transcending the petty differences and tribes that are so easy to fall into…

 

I always say to pastors: don’t preach to win fans… the greatest trap we can fall into is preaching in order to win over fans… we’re called to preach to win over disciples…

 

Here’s a practical question for pastors: when was the last time you preached a sermon where you knew ahead of time that it would cost you something? Courageous preaching requires us to say things that are costly… 

 

Episode 030: The Life of the Preacher

Have you ever had a week where you feel like you should just pack up your study and give up preaching altogether? It was a week like that for Pastor Daniel Grothe that sparked this conversation about The Life of the Preacher. Listen in as we talk about what we find at the core of the calling to preach the Word of God.

10 Things I’ve Learned As A Preacher by Daniel Grothe_ Essential Church Podcast

 

Preaching is simultaneously the most joyful and maddening work I could ever do… we all have a little Jeremiah in our bones: “Who am I?”…

On paper we would all say, “Well of course the life of a preacher is a life of prayer…” but on a busy week, what people typically do is white-knuckle it trying to crank content out, forgetting that prayer is probably our best play…

There’s a difference between exegeting a text and discerning what the Spirit wants to do in this moment with these people right here, right now… I’m always saying, “Lord, who is this for? What is the pulse of this moment?”

When you preach to your congregation, that should come out of your life with these people… there shouldn’t be a disconnect between your life with them in the coffee shop and your preaching to them…

A story has a way of sneaking behind people’s defense mechanisms, and if Jesus is the consummate storyteller, then it’s okay for us…

There’s a profound element of mystery that not enough preachers appreciate, and so we fill in the mystery with talent, expertise, more stories, content, etc., and it becomes an anxious space…

For me, before I preach, the thing that I must do is quiet the space [of my heart]… I find a quiet place and say, “Come, Holy Spirit…” I need to clear the mechanism so that the Spirit can quiet me… if I go up there with all that anxious energy and I haven’t quieted myself, something’s not right…

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM
1) Which of Daniel’s 10 things resonated most with you and why?
2) What does it look like for you to have your messages grow up out of the soil of a healthy life lived in authentic community?
3) Which of these 10 things was most challenging to you and why? Where do you need to grow?

Episode 019: Finding Your Voice In Preaching

In this conversation, Pastors Brady Boyd, Andrew Arndt, Daniel Grothe, and Glenn Packiam (who are all members of the New Life Church teaching team, talk about finding that unique voice that each preacher (or leader) must discover.

The tension is, on the one hand we have to be learners, and yet one the other hand we have to be comfortable with our own personalities…

 

Often when we begin, we find ourselves practicing on templates that have been given to us… the early years are about finding good mentors and people to follow… and at some point down the road you begin to settle into your voice… now, after I’ve done all my study, I always shut the door and say “God, who am I and how does this text live in me…?”

 

The key is finding that place in yourself that needs to be “amplified”… the issue isn’t whether or not you’re learning from others, but whether you’re letting it get deep enough in you is that it comes out of you naturally…

 

You can only really impart who you are, what you’ve lived and embodied in private… public communication has to be birthed from private impartation…

 

There has to be a great amount of humility when we stand up to preach… if we’re not aware of the moment we’re in and the opportunity we’ve been given, we don’t need to be on the stage…

 

All public figures have an idealized self, which can feed our temptation to ignore the darker sides of who we are… Jesus allows us to integrate both sides of who we are and we need to let people see how the grace of God holds all that together… appropriate transparency helps people to see that you are not just an idealized version of yourself…

 

[When it comes to transparency and vulnerability], if you find yourself oversharing from the pulpit, it might mean that you don’t have enough appropriate community around you…

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

 

  • On the spectrum of “learning from others” to “settling into your own voice,” where are you right now? Where do you need to grow?
  • What do you find most challenging about this podcast? Why?
  • Are you living deeply enough in God that you have a surplus out of which to share? How can you improve here?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how well are you and your team doing at modeling appropriate vulnerability from the pulpit? Explain why you gave the rating you did.

Episode 005: Cultivating a Team-Teaching Model, Pt. 2

Episode 005 – Cultivating a Team-Teaching Model, Pt. 2

 

Show Notes

The risk [of doing this] is not being needed any more… the reward is seeing someone run ahead and thrive…

Every one of us is an “interim pastor”… the church will outlast all of us… therefore, I have a choice: to preach and lead [by myself] or begin sharing some of the responsibility…

I realized that when I announced this, the church might actually like one of these guys more… but it’s ridiculous to think about it that way… we need to model something more beautiful than what the world models… if you don’t have joy in watching people thrive, you’ll never have people around you who do thrive…

The stage can’t be any of our identities… the stage and the pulpit are our privilege, but not our identity… and too many senior pastors get their identities from the pulpit…

This model starts with the senior pastor realizing that he has to share the responsibility… [and that requires] that we find our identities in the right things…

[When we made this switch] people were disappointed… they like me, I’m their pastor… we had to manage that, we had to walk alongside people… [but the result will be] that I’ll hang around here longer, with more energy and vision than if we stay at this current pace…

[This] is a way of reinforcing to people that we need one another… when you see from the pulpit not only weakness but also the strength that comes from others, it gives people permission to ask for help in their own lives…

A “man of God” syndrome has permeated the American church… I’m not sure that that’s biblical, and I’m certainly sure it’s not healthy…

The people who are most prone to learning, reading, and listening tend to make the best preachers… there’s a natural call, a genuine passion, and they are willing to work at it…

For young preachers and teachers: are you willing to do the hard work? The 10,000 hour rule is in effect… you have to preach a lot of sermons…

Say yes to every chance you get to speak and discern what happens…

The worst person to give the pulpit to is someone who ONLY wants the pulpit…

Questions for you and your team:
1) What are the risks for you and your church in moving towards a team-teaching model?
2) Do you have a culture that allows others to thrive?
3) What concrete steps can you take to starting moving this direction?

Episode 004: Cultivating a Team-Teaching Model, Pt. 1

What does it look like to share the pulpit and teach the scriptures as a team? Are you considering it for your church, but don’t know how to begin? In the episode, Pastors Brady Boyd, Andrew Arndt, Glenn Packiam, and Daniel Grothe talk about how and why New Life Church embraced the Team Teaching model.

 

EPISODE 004 – Cultivating a Team-Teaching Model Pt 1 – Show Notes

I think the local church is always meant to be led by a symphony of voices…

For me, as a senior pastor, I realized that from a physical standpoint I couldn’t keep doing at 50 what I did when I was 30… that was the pragmatic reason… but theologically, I wanted a symphony of voices at our church…

You can naturally reach people ten years older and younger than you… if we’re going to lead a multi-generational congregation, then we need to have voices that naturally reach certain elements of our congregation…

One of the things that’s been interesting is that we’ve heard from a lot of pastors around the country who are dying to do this… it gives us a chance admit that we need help… it gives our congregation a chance to admit that they need help in their own lives…

Doing it this way cuts down on all our study time… but we have to follow some rules if we’re going to make this work… we have to be able to defend it with each other… we don’t have to use any of each other’s stuff… but if we DO use each other’s stuff, we can’t grasp for credit…

We’re creating a situation with this where you have to lay ego aside… it’s created a collaborative ethos… the congregation can feel that we love each other and love working with each other…

The goal here is not for us to sound the same… the goal is not to be homogeneous but to be in unity… which means that we give each other permission to be different, to be ourselves…

Relationship leads to trust… you can’t hire this… it’s something that has to be invested in… but even with these things, there is inherent risk… are you willing to risk it?

Once you do this, the weight of preaching that is draining the life out of some of you, it will make pastoral ministry really joyful and really fun…

Some of my favorite times of the week are when we sit together on Tuesday mornings and talk through the upcoming sermon… we’re all circling the same big idea but we’re seeing it from a different viewpoint…

The biggest thing for getting started is to get people in the room with you to help you study… bringing a diverse set of voices will help you study better…

Questions for you and your team

1) To what extent does your church reflect a “symphony of voices”?
2) What would change at your church if you adopted this model?
3) What would change in your own work for the church if you adopted this model?
4) What can you do to begin moving in this direction?