To ask yourself before you start delivering your sermon…..

…..assuming you have prepared and prayed well and checked your heart:

** Is there a significant huge event that I should at least salute?   Most people hear or see the news, and we do not want to appear that we live in a separate world.

Of course if it is huge tragedy, we must reach into an already prepared emergency tragedy sermon file.  No one after 9/11 preached on the next few verses in the series.

** Is this near a holiday that I should acknowledge?

We do not have to look for a verse about July 4, but can refer to it or use an illustration that does not make everyone a US citizen. Otherwise, listeners may think we do not know where we are on the calendar.

** Is there a major physical or personal need or event that needs to be prayed for or announced in your size church?

A birth, a death, a tragedy, something the church should rally around.

** Is this a church anniversary that should be celebrated?

The English have an expression, “River crossed, bridge forgotten.”

** What does the start of the sermon follow that should be acknowledged or used as a bridge?

We would not follow the “Hallelujah Chorus” without a careful reference to it, of course. Neither should we take the stage as if nothing else has gone on. This is sometimes called “awareness of surroundings”!

** Is there something the church just did that should be celebrated, or coming up that should be supported?

Our staff used to say that announcements were pushes (and we tried to keep it to three a week),   but something at the start of the sermon time was a shove!

** Is there a personal need or event that should be shared with good friends, and not just kept secret?

If you just had a baby or grand baby, you will not need this reminder, but some other joys are also meant to be shared. And the church rejoices with you or cries with you.

The simplest evangelism for the local church,

and one that puts some responsibility on each person


The church simply makes available a small card to tuck in the Bible —

on one side are simply lines for three names;

With a simple heading:


My three

Daily prayer and frequent show of friendship

and love and at the right time a church invite




On the other side, for example:

God’s Word

John 3:16

Acts 2:47

Romans 3:23-25

Romans 10:14,15

No one shows the cards around, but keeps them at home where they pray

or in their Bible for daily reminders to pray…

…for God’s grace to be shown in their lives

…for their eyes and minds to see the human need

…for opportunities to become better friends with their three

…for an openness for the friends to try our church when invited.

No big campaign.

No trumpets.

No pressure.

This reminds the people of faith and of the church that evangelism

is for each of us, and it is often relational, and a response to a life example.

Speaking of sermons


  • You are going to “preach the Word” — that is an actual order from God though His friend Paul.
  • You are going to have a discipline to study to know what was in God’s heart (1)  when He had it written.
  • You will have a will and a plan for it to grip your own heart (2).   This will show in your passion and delivery.
  •  A strong goal as you preach is to help listeners take it into their own hearts (3) and want to believe it….feel it….do it++


++ for a long time those who study preaching have  explained that every sermon should help the listeners  to do one or more of those three:

Believe it : God really created the universe…. He loves me …..Jesus really took all my sins to the cross.

Feel it:  God is all-powerful and our Creator and, “Look at that new baby!”

Do it:  I will not lie any more.  I will “truth it in love.”


— PAUSES at appropriate times.  Some say it is the best attention-getter.

— PASSION AND EMOTION at appropriate times.  Shows it has hit your heart.

— PERSONAL FEELINGS ABOUT THE TRUTH.  Knute the man, not just Knute the speaker.

— VARIETY:  in how your move and where you stand….in pace of delivery… In volume….in genre of speech (challenge, explanation, illustration, humor….)

— APPLICATION: They should know early on that this talk is for them, even to change their lives!

Child Dedication

One thing I changed  that was  different was that I only met with the father when there was a couple involved. Sometimes it was three or four or five fathers. That way he had to convey the information about Sunday morning, but also take the responsibility for going through what is expected of parents. (So many fathers just hang onto their wives for such things.)

At that meeting I went through salvation again….and also the least parents must do…..

As well as explain the Sunday procedure.

Always asked them how they came up with the name.

Did not make a big deal if the name was in the Bible, as if those parents

win.  (Knute, you may know, is only in a few mss.)

After introducing one couple at a time:

Questions to all of them:

Do you publicly acknowledge your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your lives?

Will you bring this child up in the teaching and lifestyle of the Word of God as best you can,  showing them the ways of Christ by teaching and ways of living?

Will you keep him or her under the influence of the church and its teaching as you raise them in love and joy?

Church, will you, as you have influence, seek to keep this a church that loves its children and provides strong teaching and partnership with this home?  (If so, please answer, we will.)

Then prayer for each individual child and parents.  Realistic and brief……And we join them in dedicating (Name) to you for your glory, and we seek your grace and protection for (her,him) to help them walk in your ways of faith and obedience……

The closing of the sermon and the worship service…

…is one of the most important times for someone who has paid attention and might think about changing some habit or belief in response.

But, alas, I have heard the following closings to sermons:

* “That’s it. See you next week!”
* A prayer that reviews the sermon…..Amen….Guitar player gives some thoughts about the sermon, sometimes showing she was not listening….then starts a song.
* “Shake hands with three people on the way out!”
* “Let’s sing something — what shall we sing, Freddie?”

Years ago, many churches had a response song — often “Just As
I Am” (as in a Billy Graham service)…..and some invited people to
come to the front of the church room to show they wanted to
“Accept Christ as Savior” or respond to “how God had spoken to

Maybe in response to that, some went to the “alas” ways noted.

______Clearly a sermon is given to urge obedience and application to life.
______Clearly a pastor should think carefully about a response avenue.
______Consider the following:

Sermon (with practical obedience and application calls throughout)
Prayer by sermon person. Not a review of the sermon to God, who does not need a review….

A brief prayer++ of worship and appreciation to God for the main truth given…then giving people a private quiet moment to thank God for that gift, or to ask His help to obey and apply it…..(Many will actually pray that way…)

Then a moment of quiet prayer introduced by, “If you are not sure of this connection with Christ as Lord and Savior, ask God for help to go that way, and to be sure….(Quiet moment)…. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Then, to show the chosen response song is tied to the sermon, not a separate issue or a production number but a response-from-the-heart song, the speaker intros the song in two or three sentences….and asks, “Please stand” as short intro to song immediately starts…. And the speaker sings it also. Maybe even stays up front to sing along with the people, for he is responding also, and helping others to respond with thanks to God and obedient faith.

This also positions the pastor-speaker to give a meaningful benediction or blessing from the Word of God to tie together the whole worship service, followed by a sentence of care or sendoff.

++(To remember: I have watched a lot of closing prayers on video and “playback” where the praying pastor is straightening his notes and closing his Bible or moving his lectern out of the way, causing me and other cynical viewers to wonder if he is really praying :-). Of course you can pray while you drive or do something, but this is about leading the church and viewers in worship and response.)

Seems like the closing
of the service should be carefully
thought through and purposeful

Helping Staff Teams to Know and Understand Each Other Better Without Paying for Personality Tests!

The best exercise our staffs ever did to know and appreciate each other, and see God’s grace in action

“The Ten Most Important Decisions or Events in My Life”

Each staff member prepares the list, to be given and described in just seven minutes in front of all staff, just one at a time, early in a staff meeting.

(Does not include physical birth, which is assumed ☺ )

Okay, everyone will say he or she cannot do it in seven minutes, but stick to that, and allow three minutes for brief questions after.

➢ Very healthy exercise for people to go back through their lives and narrow down the most significant decisions or events, positive or negative, that affected them. And still do.

➢ Very healthy for their teammates to hear where they, the presenters, have been and see why they are the way they are.

> God always ends up getting a lot of credit

New Covenant Church

Pastoral Director of Seniors and Care

To plan and manage the pastoral care and general church ministries to and by the over-65 people to New Covenant, always in step with the direction of the pastor and to fulfill the overall implications of the church values and vision

Report to: the senior pastor, through regular verbal and paper reports
Time: an average of 8-12 hours per week
Compensation: _______ per month, with no benefits or extras; and with 10 weeks off each year (though still responsible for assigning special and regular needs those weeks


…Provide or assign pastoral care as needed for seniors when ill or in need

…Give vision and strategy to the ministry of the church to these people in general, related to care ministries but also outreach ministries toward the unchurched

…Represent the needs of these people to the pastor, proposing options for ministry


… Provide or assign pastoral care for the individuals in this group when they are in need (as defined by the pastor if ambiguous) — when unbelieving, sick, shut- in, hospitalized, or hurting from tragedies or death of a loved one; advise the pastor of needs.

…Lead the scheduling of senior socials for fellowship and edification and ministry to others; help organize them in line with policies and pastoral vision.

…Oversee with the pastor the Sunday and home community groups and teaching groups for this age. Perhaps host or teach one yourself. Appoint a group leader, a teacher or facilitator, a care captain, and a missions manager.

… If possible, lead or ask someone to lead a true small (4-7) discipleship group of all men or all women for this age group, meeting at least twice a month for personal growth, accountability, and ministry.

Expectations for a pastoral staff member

 In a church concerned for best ministry. What seems best for the ministry of the church, a fair return to the people who pray and give to make this possible, with committed love to the Lord Christ, head of the church

…in this for Christ and his church first, not self — a commitment that is obvious.
…practices a daily connection with the Lord and his Spirit, and this is apparent in attitudes, actions, witness, conflicts reactions.
…with a family committed to the same, if married. A “one-woman” man, if married.
…supportive of the team spirit of the staff and the pastoral leadership, and willing to take any concerns or criticisms to the appropriate person.

…willing to serve at least 50 hours in a normal work week, given that many lay people give 40-55 and more in their jobs, then add ministry time. Aware that many weeks it will be more than that.
…leads a true discipleship/accountability group of four to six other men (or women) that meets at least twice a month to study character and the church. (Talk about discipleship in general means little. Get a group going and reproduce it every two years,)
…reports to someone else on staff or to the senior pastor, on a regular basis and with true accountability for character, goals, workload, job description.
…contributes to the team and “school spirit” on staff, and is trustworthy.
…is willing to be evaluated regularly (annually in a formal way) for spirit on staff, work-ministry contribution, and love and service to people.
…willing to turn in a “master schedule” as an ideal allotment of time in an ideal week — shown to person he or she reports to on staff.
…shows concern and teamwork for any and all areas of church ministry rather than serving in a silo.
…willing to do “other things as assigned” when asked.
…seeks to expand/grow ministry areas rather than settle for status quo.
…committed to world and local missions and personal evangelism, no matter what personal assignment is.

…attends worship services and participates heartily.
…participates in staff meetings in a positive and contributing manner.
…supportive of the church in a financial way.
…prays regularly for the church.
…participates joyfully in any events leadership asks participation.
…invites outsiders to the church, even if the ministry is not his or her main area of ministry.
…shows love to people in any corner or ministry of the church, not just one’s own ministry areas.
…committed to and supportive of the statement of faith and vision and goals of the church.
Ideas that have worked well for church staff meetings

1. Eating together. Staff meetings that start with brown-bag lunches (okay, Mac or Burger) get people relaxing and talking and being a team.

2. Getting to know each other, A great way: Each person, only one each week, Gets seven minutes, give or take 10 seconds, to give a carefully planned list of “The Ten Biggest Events or Decisions of My Life.” (Not counting birth, which is too obvious.). When she or he is done, guaranteed teammates will understand why the person is the way they are. I went first as senior pastor, to model candor; everyone seemed honest, and it built the team.

3. Having each department take ten minutes and tell their best emphases at the present and any new hopes for the next six months. This is followed by questions and suggestions from the rest of staff, who go in on the plans because they are in the know.

4. Staying away from the boring calendar lists that dominate many staff meetings.

5. Praying together on Fridays just for Sunday services. The worship leader took thirty seconds to summarize the worship theme and I the same to summarize the sermon and its target. Everyone joined in to pray for Sundays, becoming co- owners.

6. Learning to pray together following the P-R-A-Y guide: Praise, where many do that with a one-sentence praise to God; Repent or confess, where the leader calls for a quiet personal time to search the heart, and then gives an assurance of forgiveness; then Ask is in groups of 3-5, and you pray for “something you are worried about,” and then someone near you backs it up with a support prayer. (This does do away with the all-too-normal long time for prayer requests and the very short time actually to pray!)

7. Fun events every three months at staff time — pickle ball tourney, volleyball, lunch together at a restaurant, a picnic outdoors, a lunch with another church staff, a tour of a museum, and the sort.

8. A careful weekly normal staff agenda that includes the above plus the input about Sundays (but not just that or the preaching pastor is the target every week!), a discussion about reaching new people — that should involve all the staff in a small or large church; and how staff are experiencing their required small discipleship-accountability group of five or six.

Plus a little bit of careful discussion about current events and world events and the changing landscape of morality and ethics. How do we pray? What do we say? What shows up in groups and in the pulpit.
Plus input on needs in areas of volunteerism, witness, good works in the city or village, and world missions.

Plus major care for people in crisis or need, with any staff of three or more in pastoral-people roles taking “horizontal pastoring” (ideas and discipleship and advisory for an adult age group).

9. SO…..
… Lunch and joy together
… Prayer of thanks for food and each other and especially grace of God … Song of worship if larger staff
… Current events we should all care about
…”Ten events or decisions that shaped my life”. (One at a time.) …Presentation by a department (Each does once a quarter.) …Sunday review and preview
…”Command performances” coming up — where all staff is needed …Appreciation for a recent particular
…People and pastoral needs and who will follow up
…”Senior moment” — theology or a challenge …P-R-A-Y to close. 60-75 minutes, same noon each week when possible.

The local church and “getting on the map”

We can easily assume that people driving by the church or even living nearby know who we are and why we are here and that we’re OK!

How do we help them consider that we might be a Good Place?

… Provide a ministry to needs of the community, meeting at a convenient time for the target person and lasting 70-80 minutes once or twice a month:

Mother’s Club — to provide excellent helps for the mother for the first time Single Moms — practical and workable ideas, and mutual support

“Celebrate Recovery” — guides from the national group for support groups for addictions, abused, special needs.

… Food bank — be a drop-off place for a local food bank.

… Sponsor a 5k or 10k race in the spring. Would need to get other sponsors and also get the police or sheriff department behind it for traffic help. Start and stop at the church building and have people at intersections.

… Rent a gymnasium to have a weekly “open gym” for basketball or volleyball or pickleball…..with good supervision and a five-minute devotional and referees.

… “Business Leaders’ Lunch” — a monthly lunch with an excellent speaker or subjects of interest to men and women….for networking and continuing education. Issues of industry and business, not Bible studies.

… “Open Breakfast” — a men’s or women’s early breakfast with a strong leader for people of the church to invite friends to go with them…..In a side room of a restaurant so can order off menu and have a 25-minute talk-study that is interesting to seekers. Not churchy or designed for strong believers. Timed so people can get to work by 8:00 am.

Cautions: Stay away from politics and controversial Christian issues….Avoid “Christian” talk and habits…. Put no one on the spot…