Archive for the ‘Preaching’ category

The Doctoral Graduation

May 16, 2009

Alan@Dmin3This past weekend I was blessed to finish my doctoral work at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In 1992, the first book I purchased so I could study preaching was the classic, Biblical Preaching, by Dr. Haddon Robinson. I had no idea who he was. I got the book because my pastor recommended it. I started to read it, but it was beyond my ability to read at that point. I was the typical man who rarely read a 200 page book. I learned to preach from “preachers’ training” in my church. I was called to ministry in an African-American church where in that time ministerial development was serious business. After that call to ministry, I ended up in a Southern Baptist Church in Germany where my pastor encouraged me to go to seminary. I went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. I went to seminary mainly because I didn’t grow up in church and needed equipping. While at Southwestern I had a professor who quoted Haddon Robinson a lot. I ran across a picture of Haddon in Leadership Journal. The picture was one of Haddon in downtown Boston. He was promoting a new Doctor of Ministry track at Gordon-Conwell called, The Preacher and the Message. I thought to myself, “If I can ever study with Haddon Robinson, I was going to do it. After graduating with the MDIV, I waited one year and applied to Gordon-Conwell. I was excepted early (usually you have to have 3 years post MDIV experience) to Haddon’s track. I was excited. Well, 5 years later, including 1 year off from the program in the middle, I finished. 

Last weekend I walked the stage and was hooded with a doctoral degree by Dr. Haddon Robinson. I was able to take my family with me. They were able to experience the graduation and enjoy Boston and the North Shore for a few days. DSC01264It was a culmination of something special. Really, I didn’t go to get a degree, although I wanted to finish. I hate not finishing something I know I’m able to do. My family getting to watch it finish was special beyond expression. I think it’s because this degree process was so much more than a degree. 

My doctoral thesis is entitled, Teaching Pastors to Reinforce Expository Preaching with Sermon Based Small Groups. This project culminated into a seminar on small groups. I plan to convert the project into a book. I’ve actually started. The degree program I was in was a doctoral level preaching degree. The difference in this and other degree programs is at least 2-fold: first, Haddon Robinson, and second, the final year deals with “teaching preaching.” Robinson stated in the third residency, “this third year focus on teaching preaching is a focus no other degree program has in it.” There are Phd’s out there who have never taught preaching before they go on faculty at a Bible College or seminary. At first glance, the program seems like the same thing you get at the Master’s level. But the difference is Haddon has obviously thought through the preaching tasks and what would need to be focused on to take Master’s level education to it’s intended level. The DMIN process was a culmination of all my previous education. 

There’s no task more important than communicating the gospel We should all do all we can to better our communication of  the gospel. The gospel is the only hope of the world without Christ. 

My thesis ironically was not specifically on the homiletical task. It was on the tasks that happen after the preaching: discipleship, ministry, and reproducing small groups for disciple-making. I’m so glad I did a thesis on something no one else has done (to my knowledge). The process had not only made me a better preacher. I’m better because Haddon teaches you how to ask the right questions and think where you normally would not. The process most of all made me a better disciple and disciple-maker. And this is what this is all about. We are supposed to make disciples, not just draw a crowd (important, can’t make disciples without a crowd). But there can be a focus on the front door at times while the back door in wide open (see Dr. Larry Osborne’s Sticky Church. a must read). 

Thanks for your prayers for me in this process. I’m thankful. 

My prayer: “Lord, I dedicate my life, skills, education, family, church position, all I have and am, I dedicate to your kingdom desire: “Make disciples” (Matt. 28:19-20).

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National Conference on Preaching

January 17, 2009

Last week was a busy week for me. I led a seminar entitled, “Connecting he Sermon to the Small Group.” This seminar introduced pastors to the concept of reinforcing expository preaching with sermon based small groups. The seminar went well and I’m looking forward to doing it again at the Small Church Leadership Conference. I’m trying to finish a doctorate and this small groups study has been life giving to me. 

Another highlight this week was the privilege to go to the National Conference on Preaching. This was the best preaching conference I’ve ever been to because of its diversity in ethnicity, theological stances, and denominational communities. The ethnic diversity was great. And the diversity was not based on politics. While politics divides people (even Christians), scripture unifies people (especially Christians). Although there was a diverse presenter team and crowd, the theological differences were respected while not abused. The cardinal doctrines of the faith were evident. The event was beautiful, refreshing.

Here are my takeaways:

1. Exposition is still the way to communicate with authority in the church. It can be done creatively and yet still be true to scripture. This conference reminded me of Haddon Robinson saying to preachers,

Do you bend your thought to scripture or scripture to your thought.  

2. Kay Arthur reminded me of the need to always dig in deep to a text before preaching it. She is an excellent scholar and models expository Bible study.

3. Ken Ulmer modeled how exposition of a text and communicating it through planting and painting the text works. He’s got unction and is truly an artist with a Bible.

4. Len Sweet reminded me of the need to know the difference between the Guttenberg world and the Google world. I cannot stay in the Guttenburg world while living in a Google world. Culture has shifted. Even Walter Kaiser and Elmer Towns used power point. 

5. Elmer Towns challenged me to do something big for God that requires faith. His great quote was regarding small groups

The body grows by the division of cells.

The conference was excellent. I’ll be a better communicator of the word because I went. I recommend you go next year.

Fire, Life, and Ministry

January 10, 2009

When a fire breaks out, opportunity strikes.

I have been working some in my Sunday School Class through Purpose Driven Life. It’s amazing how these young adults have come alive in the last 8 weeks. Every day they are sending text messages about the book and what it means in their lives. Fire has broken out and is spreading. 

Life is funny. Much exciting can happen when we are willing to take risks and be available. There’s a great difference between satisfaction and holy discontent. I understand there are seasons in life. But taking initiative to relate to people has become fun and gratifying. Seeing change up close is wonderful. 

3 Steps to Ministry Freshness

1. Invite some to eat at your home.

2. Listen to their story.

3. Minister out of the listening. 

Have a big day tomorrow. Worship the Lord. Pray for your Pastor to preach with power and evangelistic passion.

Seminar: "Connecting the Sermon to the Small Group"

December 18, 2008

 

How can a church make disciples in the 21st Century? On January 13, 2009, I’ll be leading a workshop at the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention onConnecting the Sermon to the Small Group. cordsIf you know of any pastors who are in churches where Sunday School is not working or expanding or are looking for a fresh small groups approach, please tell them about this workshop. 

Connecting the Sermon to the Small Group

January 13, 2009

9am-12noon

RSVP at http://www.sbtexas.org/smallgroups

The workshop themes: 

1. Why you should use Sermon Based Small Groups? 

2. Who is using them? How do they it? 

3. How can you build a model that works for your church? 

I’m finishing my DMIN with Haddon Robinson and have studied churches using this model. Help me out by spreading the word about this opportunity.

Book Recommend: Sticky Church

November 25, 2008

I just finished reading Pastor Larry Osborne’s Sticky Church. The book is a must read for anyone wanting to do small groups well. Really, if you want to do a simple church type of model,sticky-church you should consider sermon-based small groups as a way to make disciples and close the back door of the church. Here are a few bullet thoughts reflecting on the book:

1. Small groups should be as much about relationships as about content; if not more about relationships. People don’t need a lot of content. They need friends. 

2. The message on Sunday morning should be the topic of the small group. Most Christians can’t remember the message from Sunday to Sunday. What if they discussed it in small groups? What if they worked on application, prayer, and how to do what the message asked them to do.

3. Larry Osborne is way outside the box. He seems to avoid tradition in favor of simple disciple making. 

4. Long term relationships in sermon based small groups take care of maturity issues. 

5. The chapter on “Cho’s Model” is worth the book. 

6. The “one anothers” in the appendix need to be preached in a series. Love those things. 

7. I love the California model of ministry. Many churches have been impacted by North Coast Church.

Tribute to S.M. Lockridge

November 21, 2008

S.M.Lockridge has gone to be with the Lord, but he’s a legend. If you have never him, here you go!

What the Church Should Do As Bush and Obama Transition?

November 16, 2008

We have a change in leadership again. I’ve seen it come and go now. I’ve seen Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and now Obama.

What should the church do now?

Matt. 28:19-20 is clear what side we should take on this political choice?

1. Make Disciples: Jesus’ last challenge to us had nothing to do with politics. He wants us to make disciples.

  • Personal Witnessing: Prayer is the starting point
  • Personal Witnessing: Proclamation of the gospel is the required

2. Mark Disciples: Jesus last challenge was for us to challenge people to follow Him in believers baptism. He want us to help people become authentic  followers.  

3. Mature Disciples: Jesus last challenge was for us to take new believers and help them grow.

  • Teach them scripture: give them the Word in a life changing way
  • Teach them to live scripture in their daily life.

The church was not commissioned to do politics. We were commissioned to make disciples. Which to you spend more time thinking about?