battle plan preaching

Posted on February 23, 2009

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Man has preaching changed in the past few decades.  For many churches in the 21st century, the proliferation of communication platforms (from social media to in-house auxiliary support for the worship services) have not only enhanced the preaching experience but complicated the process by which a message gets from the Bible to a pastor’s head to the worship attendee’s heart.  The process, at least by all appearances, used to be pretty simple: the preacher would prayerfully select a passage, spend hours preparing the content and applications, and then deliver the message alongside (at most) some musical accompaniment, followed by a passionate plea for listeners to repent (invitation).

Fast forward to the twenty-first century.  Times have changed. Consider the following elements of contemporary preaching strategies in many churches across America:

  • Preaching teams (teaching pastors, lead pastors, etc)
  • Multi-site philosophies
  • Worship bands
  • Live video services
  • Podcasting and vodcasting
  • Online social media outlets (facebook, twitter, blogging)
  • PR (graphic design, branding, preaching series packaging, books, articles)

What’s a preacher/church to do with all of these available strategic methods for penetrating the culture with the gospel of Jesus?  While some would shun these methods as carnal or unbiblical, everyone chooses to contextualize their services and preaching to some degree.  The real question is: how can we best streamline our preaching efforts while not wasting inordinate amounts of time shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic? (i.e. a lost culture is heading straight to hell – do we really need another logo for that?)

Recently, I have come across some churches that are doing this well.  One example is Mars Hill Church in Seattle, which I have talked about numerous times on this blog.  A few weeks ago, Mars Hill had some pastors up to talk about how they run things at their multi-site church.  One of the most helpful things I saw that came out of that meeting was their 200+ page “Battle Plan for Preaching,” which the different ministry departments (theology & preaching, media, etc) write to synchronize their efforts from book selection to visuals/themes/design/song selection for each preaching series.  Additionally, they also produce a companion booklet that serves their various auxiliary ministries (community groups, family devotions, etc) that is incredibly sharp.  You can view both of these here.

The other I would recommend would be Dave Ferguson’sThe Big Idea.” This book is a strategic guide that I found very helpful and insightful because of its repeated emphasis on planning and teamwork.

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