This November Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Nebraska will host a Simeon Trust Workshop. I am very excited about this as I think about Omaha and its surrounding area. Like many others I am burdened for the gospel to go viral. We know that God uses preachers bring about such revival. Therefore, the training and refreshing of preachers is vital to gospel expansion.
What is Simeon Trust? They are workshops that help pastors and Bible teachers to learn methods of expositional preaching, be encouraged through sitting under God’s Word, and gather in small groups with the aim of sharpening each other’s teaching.
Below is a video from David Helm describing the Simeon Trust.
Personally, I have greatly benefited from the Charles Simeon Trust. The workshops remind Bible teachers of the importance of exposition while equipping us with the proper framework to do it ourselves. Unlike many courses on preaching Simeon Trust is not concerned primarily with the delivery of the sermon but the building of the sermon. You come out of the workshop refreshed in the power and primacy of God’s Word.
One of the ways they do this is by putting preachers together with other preachers. In smaller group sessions we sit together to deliver 5 minutes of “sermon work” on our text of Scripture. This covers the passage’s structure, emphasis, context, gospel implications, and principles. After delivering this the preacher is given feedback by another brother. This constructive feedback is gold.
The training in November is the 11th -13th. David Helm will be joining us along with …
Preaching has fallen on hard times in our day. Many insist that pulpit ministries are boring, ineffective, outdated, and irrelevant. And if you listen to a sampling of sermons from various pulpits, there is an element of some truth to the frustrations.
So how does the preacher who wants to preach the word of God not get in the way and make the sermon become the Sunday morning equivalent to the flight attendant’s reading of the pre-flight safety instructions?
Author and pastor Jack Hughes has some ideas. He has written a very helpful book entitled Expository Preaching with Word Pictures. Hughes is convinced for the need of more colorful and descriptive preaching in our day. To help with the task he enlists the pen of Puritan Thomas Watson. Watson is renown for his ability to carve spiritual truth into our minds through powerfully weighted words.
Consider these examples:
“Zeal in a minister is as proper as fire on the altar. Some are afraid to reprove, like the swordfish which has a sword in his head, but is without a heart. So they carry the sword of the Spirit with them—but have no heart to draw it out in reproof against sin. How many have sown pillows under their people, Ezek. 13:18, making them sleep so securely, that they never awoke until they were in hell!”
“The sins of the wicked pierce Christ’s side. The sins of the godly go to his heart.”
“A godly man loves the Word preached, which is a commentary upon the …
Preachers love to preach. We love to dive down deep, mining God’s Word for glorious, eternal treasures and then to swim back up to the service, sharing them with our church each week. But sometimes we get a little preacher’s cramp in so far as what to preach next. After preaching through Ezra and Nehemiah, I am thoroughly convinced that pastors, in particular those who are in the work of church planting revitalization, should prayerfully consider preaching through these books.
Here are some reasons…
New Beginnings: Ezra starts out with the people of God in Babylon. Within a verse or two God is stirring the heart of a pagan King (Cyrus) to send his people back to Israel to rebuild the temple and reestablish the covenant community. It is time for a new day. In particular for a church plant or revitalization, this helps to show how God works in people and communities to build something new.
Idolatry: The books are replete with examples of what idolatry is. Everywhere from the negligence of the weak in Nehemiah 8 to the ignorance of the Sabbath in order to make wine in Nehemiah 13, God shows how the elevation of good things to ultimate things is actually a replacement of what is ultimate, namely the worship and adoration of the Lord God. This primes the pump for a crucial discussion on idolatry.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10.27)
Have you ever been overcome with despair as you wonder how to get through to your friend who is presently a stubborn professing Christian? Have you looked into the eyes of an unbeliever and asked yourself how you might bring them to Christ? Have you wondered how you might appeal to them and somehow have them follow the Savior? If you are a pastor, have you sat in your study and wondered how you might help people to “get it”?
To one degree or another all believers have shared these thoughts. What happens next, however, is of vital importance. What do we do about it?
If you are a preacher then you know that you are never really ‘ready’ to preach. Preachers could always use more time in prayer, further meditation upon the text and to reconsider appropriate application. However, the time eventually comes when we must take that walk from our seat in the pew to stand behind the sacred desk to proclaim God’s word. It is at this point that we must be as ready to do what God has called us to do.
Why Are Some Guys So “On”?
This brings me to my question: Why do some guys walk to the pulpit and from first word to last seems to be clicking, dripping with passion, demonstrable brokenness, and a visible burden for their people to ‘get it’? While others are able to deliver a biblically faithful message but seem to lack that extra ‘something’ that makes a good sermon different?
A couple of weeks ago I came to one of those times in sermon prep where I was just staring at the Bible and wondering what I was going to do with the passage. Specifically it was in Leviticus 24. This chapter deals with the regulations for the lamp stand and the bread. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, we have a case of blasphemy. The offender is the son of an Egyptian man and an Israelite woman.
(Lev 24.10-11) Now an Israelite woman’s son, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the people of Israel. And the Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel fought in the camp,11 and the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name, and cursed.
The commentators debate about the specifics of the offense, but suffice it to say, this man spoke in an insulting, irreverent, and unholy manner concerning the Lord God of Israel. He was not impressed by him and felt no obligation to fear him. So like Goliath, he mocked him.
The penalty for this divine hate crime was quick and efficient community execution by way of stoning.
(Lev 24.15-16) 15 And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. 16 Whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death.
I have been quite refreshed by the book Feed My Sheep. It is a compilation with contributions from Mohler, Sproul, Piper, and MacArthur (among others). As you might expect, it is a very helpful reminder and instruction into the priority of preaching.
This particular quote is from Sinclair Ferguson in his chapter preaching to the heart. The whole chapter is very helpful, but this was particularly appropriate:
There is a center to the Bible and its message of grace. It is found in Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected. Grace, therefore, must be preached in a way that is centered and focused on Jesus Christ Himself. We must never offer the benefits of the gospel without the Benefactor Himself. For many preachers, however, it is much easier to deal with the pragmatic things, to answer “how to” questions, and even to expose and denounce sin than it is to give an adequate explanation of the source of the forgiveness, acceptance, and power we need.
Since many readers of this site are pastors, even young pastors, I thought it would be helpful to share this quote of a confession from Bryan Chapell concerning a misguided practice from his early days of preaching.
In my earliest years of ministry, I most valued mining obscure texts. I thought the effort showed how serious I was about all of Scripture. I also believed that handling such passages well would show how qualified I was to preach.
Preaching difficult and little-known texts was like showing my diploma. I later learned to love shedding light on important texts or bringing new life to familiar texts. Concentrating on the Bible’s ‘fine print’ gave people the impression they could not read their Bible’s without me. My pride may have appreciated this perception, but it was poor pastoring.
The Bible became an opaque book full of grammatical mazes and logical knots that I had to untangle each week. Thus, by consistently choosing texts in the Bible’s densest forests, I denied people the sunlight it more regularly offers and made them less willing to approach its paths.
Some people may have thought much of my abilities to handle the Word, but more lost confidence in their ability to do the same. (Chapell, Bryan. Christ-centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005. 69.)
I love this quote. I will totally be picturing barrels and praying for explosions tomorrow morning.
One of my predecessors at Tenth Presbyterian Church, Donald Grey Barn-house, used to say that when he preached to an audience, he used to think of them as barrels sitting on the pews. Most of them were empty. But some of them had gunpowder inside, and his job was to produce explosions. He did it by striking the matches of the Word and throwing them into the barrels. When he hit one that had gunpowder, there would be an explosion. God put the gunpowder there. Then, as the Word was preached, there was a spiritual ignition or rebirth. This is one of the reasons we should value preaching so highly. –James Montgomery Boice, Feed my Sheep
As a preaching pastor I found this quote from Kaiser to be both helpful and convicting:
“Evangelicals in particular are known for leaving messages at the cognitive level. We often think we have done our job when we have asked God’s people to ‘think about this,’ or ‘believe this,’ or ‘remember this.’ But it suddenly struck me one day that Beelzebub could respond just as well to my sermons if that was all I was asking people to do. The devil believes all of these things and more. He knows they are true; he just doesn’t act on any of these claims. Thus, we must call for action.” (Walt Kaiser, Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament, p. 59)