Monthly Archives: January 2013
These past few weeks have been very busy for me. But I am grateful for all the ministry opportunities that are coming my way. My prayer is that each one will be fruitful and glorying to God.
RYBT (Read Your Bible Today) Challenge
Since launching this first of three challenges, the testimonies of people’s growth in the Word have been simply amazing! Members are spending more time in the Scriptures. One sister told me that she spent a whole hour in reading and studying the Bible, which she had never done before this challenge. Praise God!
We are almost through with the book of Romans. We are set to complete it on this Tuesday. Can’t wait until the summer when we kick off the second challenge – reading through the book of Amos.
Today I continued my teaching series on Proverbs by looking at chapter 1 verses 8 through 19. The lesson title was “Don’t Fall for the Bait.”
I am extremely excited and grateful to see the number of members who are coming out early in the morning to study God’s Word. There are over 50 people who have been attending my class. The interaction has been great and the feedback has been encouraging.
I was invited by my friend, Pastor Nyal Bell, to come and preach at the church where he serves as the Senior Pastor – Greater New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. It is always a joy to worship and fellowship with them.
I preached on 1 Kings 17:8-16 (Elijah and the widow at Zarephath) and titled the message, “Just Enough.” From all accounts, the members received it well. Afterwards, Pastor Bell told me that I spoke on some specific things in the sermon that coincided with what God had placed on his heart to unveil to the congregation later in the year. I, of course, had no idea. I absolutely love when the Holy Spirit does things like that! God is awesome!
Well, it’s been a long but great weekend, and I am tired. So until next time, peace.
So Lecrae was asked to spit some verses on BET the other day. It’s truly exciting to see mainstream doors opening for brothers (and sisters) like Lecrae to go in and rep Christ. Check out the video. I’ve included the lyrics at the bottom of this post as well. Good stuff!
Lecrae’s Freestyle Lyrics:
Yes, B.E.T. done let me back up in this
Business unfinished plus my ending got an appendix
Menace to your society, lyrics full of sobriety
Body me if you don’t like these policies that I be lobbying
Sick of seeing them hollow hearted get swallowed by Audemars and automatics
I manually give them the manual and I know they panic
When I say Jesus or Emmanuel
Partna I was a cannibalistic fallible animal
People looking for change and they fooled us into thinking it was Franklin
You only get one shot and you drank it
The lost art of thinking coupled with our depravity
Got me praying he’ll free us from this Gravity
Now on a lighter I hope that they bring back ‘The Wire’
Hope Lupe don’t retire hope I leave you all inspired
I’m rewired ironchest, tireless, I am blessed
With the Spirit that resurrects the dead, try and test, yes
You know what it is… 116 Unashamed
Yessir, and we out
This past Sunday I had the privilege to preach at our Impact Student Ministry worship service. As I expressed in my Sunday Reflections blog post a few days ago, I count it an honor to have the opportunity to invest in the next generation.
Coming out of that service, I began to reflect on my ministry experience with students throughout the years and what I have learned about preaching (and teaching) to them. I chose to publish it here on my blog with the hope that it will serve to equip, encourage, and confirm those who are involved in student ministry.
Preach the Word (i.e., The Bible in general and the Gospel in particular)
In the day and time in which we live where there is a low view of Scripture and preaching, we must remind ourselves of what Paul wrote to Timothy:
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquantied with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 3:14-4:4, ESV)
Our words, in and of themselves, have no power to save or grow our students spiritually; only the Gospel/Bible does that through the convicting and illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. So, no matter your style of communication, be committed to the exposition of Scripture.
Pray for the Holy Spirit’s Help
When you read of Paul’s ministry among the church at Corinth, it becomes quickly apparent that he was dependent on the Holy Spirit as he preached the Gospel of Jesus to them:
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Cor. 2:1-5, ESV)
If we wish to see students convicted and repent of sin, grow in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus, commit to Christian fellowship, serve in ministry according to their giftedness, and be emboldened to be on mission for Jesus, we must carry out our preaching ministry to them in prayerful dependence on the Holy Spirit.
Use the Bible
Here is what I mean: when we are preaching, it is good practice to have a physical copy of the Bible with us and to actually refer to it, rather than simply reading a passage, using it as a launching pad to fly us and our students into the galaxy of our own thoughts and viewpoints.
Trust me, I am in no way bemoaning the use of technology. My notes are on my iPad. But I also carry a Bible with me to the stage, pulpit, or front of the room because I realize that students not only learn from what they hear, but also from what they see.
Referring to the actual text of Scripture helps our students to understand that the authority in our preaching does not reside within ourselves, but rather within God and His Word. We are not progenitors but heralds of God’s message.
We need to not only be exegetes of the Scriptures, but of our students as well, so that we might meaningfully engage them in “their world.” We would do well to at least make ourselves aware of those things that in general mark or characterize their generation. Music, media (Television, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Social Cam, etc.), and movies are three of the major “icons” of adolescence that we should keep our eyes on.
This is not beyond biblical warrant. The classic text that many refer to when making this point for the need for cultural awareness and engagement is Acts 17:16-31 where Paul preaches to the Athenians, making reference to their [pagan] religious devotion and poets.
It is possible to engage culture without endorsing it.
Pay attention to your terminology
Preach to them in terms they can understand. Jesus was the master at this. When he spoke many of his parables to the crowds, he used common elements and terms (e.g., birds, trees, bread, door, shepherd/sheep, mountains, sower and seed, kingdom, etc.) to explain spiritual truths.
Is it okay to use theological terms in your sermon? Of course, but use them only when needed and be sure to define them in words they can grasp.
Remember, our goal is not to impress them or to simply express what we have learned in seminary or through our own study. Our goal is to see them progress in their relationship with and devotion to Jesus.
For the most part, strive to be clear and simple (simple is not the same as simplistic).
When I say creativity, I am not saying be gimmicky. To be creative, in the sense that I am using it, is to use whatever you might have at your disposal to keep your students attention (as far as it depends on you) and to relevantly communicate to them the points of your sermon that have been derived from the text of Scripture.
Here are some suggestions:
a. Switch up the presentation.
Preach a 1st person narrative sermon.
If you usually preach on the stage, try preaching from the floor.
Alliterate your sermon – where every point begins with the same letter.
Make your sermon into an acrostic – where each letter of a name is a point (or where your points form a name).
b. Use a flip chart or dry-erase board to write your sermon points on or project them on a screen via powerpoint.
c. Present an object lesson
d. Solicit interaction by asking questions or participation if you need to demonstrate something.
e. Show a movie clip or play a song
f. Incorporate a sketch (aka: skit) at the beginning, throughout, or at the end of your sermon
Whatever you do, make sure that your creativity is always subordinate to (and supports) Scripture and appropriate for your audience.
Share your life story
Your successes and your failures. Students need to know that you were not always the mature Christian that you are today. And yet they need to know more than anything that with God’s enabling grace living a life for His glory is possible.
On sharing your failures, I would admonish you to be careful of the tone you use when mentioning them. To recount them flippantly can give off the impression that we are at best trivializing them or at worst glorying them. So use discernment as to what to disclose and share it with a measure of sobriety.
Students are notorious for sniffing out inauthenticity or a copycat. So don’t try to preach just like your Senior Pastor or whoever else. By all means, learn from them, but don’t try to be them. You have your own unique personality and style that needs to come out in your preaching. Right away or over time, your students will come to appreciate you for being you. As they say, find your voice…and stick with it.
The first and greatest mistake, which in essence gives birth to all the other mistakes, is not allowing Jesus to have his rightful place in our life and ministry. We often start out well with him in the center, but over time the thrill of seeing him at work, the accolades from those we serve, the lasting fruit from our efforts, and the adoration and respect of our peers, mentors, and network of ministry friends gradually become more important than Jesus. Add to this mix our own sinful egos and selfish ambition (James 3:14) and we have a recipe for disaster. We often don’t see this mistake because our experience is like the proverbial frog in a pot of water. If you place a frog in a pot of boiling water, he will jump out. But if you put him in a pot of cool water and then heat up the water gradually, a cold-blooded frog’s body will warm up as the water is warmed up, and he will sit quietly until he boils to death. Sin in our lives is often like slowly heating up the water. Our identity in and intimacy with Jesus slowly dissipates, and over time, the ministry begins to occupy center stage in our affections, time, and focus. It is all downhill from there in a leader’s life and ministry.
Mistakes Leaders Make by Dave Kraft (pg. 17-18)
Yes, I am giving my “Sunday Reflections” on a Monday. This past weekend was a busy one for me. But there is an old saying, “Better late than never.”
Church Leadership Summit
On Saturday, we hosted our first Church Leadership Summit, facilitated by our Senior Pastor, Dr. Karry D. Wesley. Throughout the years, various local pastors have approached him about coming to their churches to conduct leadership seminars and workshops. In an effort to better steward his time, he decided to hold one summit at Antioch rather than conducting numerous ones throughout the city. It was a good decision. We had over 400 pastors and leaders from 10 churches to register and attend. Pastor Wesley taught 3 sessions on various topics, the participants broke out into their respective church huddles to process the information shared, and we gave tours of the facility. The feedback was positive and constructive.
Impact Student Worship Service
Our Pastor of Students and Young Adults was out on vacation yesterday. And so I was tapped on the shoulder to preach in his absence. I absolutely love preaching and teaching God’s Word. In my current capacity, I mainly teach and preach to adults. But when I get the opportunity to preach to students, I always take it. I count it a privilege to be able to invest in the next generation.
I preached on Luke 14:25-33 and entitled the message, “It’s Going To Cost You.” I brought out three points:
Jesus says you and I cannot be his disciples if we do not:
a. Hate the people closest to us (father, mother, etc.) and our own lives
b. Embrace suffering (“whoever does not bear his own cross…”)
c. Forsake (renounce, say good-bye to) our possessions
It was a sobering but needed word. I concluded the sermon by saying, “Following Jesus is going to cost us, but Jesus is more than worth it, for He is our treasure and all else pales in comparison to him.” and showing John Piper’s Treasuring Him sermon jam on YouTube.
The Bible: God’s Story of Redemption
I was invited to come and teach this class at another church here in Dallas. In it, I endeavor to take people on a panoramic view of the Bible and show them how all 66 books tell of one true story: God’s Story of Redemption. It is basically an Old and New Testament survey all wrapped up in one class section. It is always a joy to see people light up when they begin to see the dots connected. The Bible’s historical accounts are not just a bunch of stories loosely thrown together, but have been divinely woven together by a redemptive thread into a magnificent tapestry displaying the glory and wonder of our God and Savior Jesus the Christ.
I look forward to the weeks to come as we continue journeying through the Old Testament and on into the New.
It was in my High School years when I first started to hear about or should I say pay attention to and see the need for mentoring in ministry. I was called to preach at the age of 17 and came under the tutelage of my pastor as an Associate Minister of the First Baptist Church (Heflin Ln) in Austin, TX. This initial mentoring relationship would prove to be beneficial, catapulting my growth as a minister to greater levels. This is where I learned about things such as cultivating a personal relationship with God, sermon preparation and delivery, pulpit/ministerial etiquette and protocol (specifically in the Black Church Tradition), and the “Do’s and Don’ts” of leading corporate prayer time.
I said initial mentoring relationship because I soon came to discover that mentoring is not only needed at the beginning of ministry but throughout it as well. And so in College, God connected me to the church where I currently serve as the Assoc. Pastor of Christian Education: Antioch Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church (Dallas, TX). I was privileged to meet some great brothers who took me under their wings and began further developing me in my walk with Jesus and ministry to His church; men like, Rev. Melvin Barnes, Rev. Joe Colbert, Rev. Eddie Tolin, and Rev. Donald Perry. As God would see fit, He blessed me to have the opportunity to stay at the home of my Senior Pastor, Dr. Karry D. Wesley, for a couple of summers. To see his commitment to his wife and family, leadership in the home, personal spiritual disciplines and study habits, etc. was invaluable to my life and ministry. That was a unique and special time, one that I don’t take for granted, even now.
The reason for me mentioning all of this is two-fold: 1. To encourage all of my fellow Pastors and Assoc. Ministers to continue seeking mentorship under mature and seasoned Pastors and Ministers, and 2. To connect you with one such gentleman. His name is Dr. Willie O. Peterson.
The Lord Jesus providentially caused our paths to cross recently. Just in the short time that I have gotten to know him, he has been a tremendous blessing to me at this stage of ministry and season of life that I am in. Along with his seminary education and professorship (Dallas Theological Seminary), he possesses an enormous wealth of ministry, church planting, and pastoral knowledge and experience that I believe will benefit you.
Check out his blog here and prayerful consider availing yourself to his coaching ministry.