worship

5 Ways to Pray Over Your Sermon

images-1Wonder why your messages have had underwhelming impact? Perhaps one of the most overlooked parts of an impactful message is prayer, both by the pastor and the congregation.

Here are 5 Ways to Pray Over Your Sermon

Peak Thinking: “We have emphasized sermon-preparation until we have lost sight of the important thing to be prepared—the heart. A prepared heart is much better than a prepared sermon. A prepared heart will make a prepared sermon.” – E.M. Bounds, Power Through Prayer

Never underestimate the power of prayer. And, never over-estimate your best preparations without it. Here are 5 ways to pray over your next message…

Pray to be true to God’s Word. Our words are forgettable and sometimes regrettable. It is the Word of God that souls crave and truly need at their core.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  – Hebrews 4:12, NIV

2) Pray to stay out of the way. Pride can creep in when we are hoping and working for that “amen,” laugh, cry, gasp, stone-cold silence or any other emotional response we know we can illicit from a crowd.

3) Pray to connect with your audience. Remember… your best connections may come from your worst moments. (See Joseph in Genesis 50:20) Don’t skip the pit and prison… these are the best parts of your story!

4) Pray for brevity. This one is as overlooked as it is underestimated.

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” (William Shakespeare, Hamlet) Most pastors and leaders have little trouble filling the allotted time, and then some. The question is, with what? Add a little “shortening” for just the right recipe.

5) Pray to challenge well. Deep down people want to count for something and someone greater than themselves. What they don’t need is more information. They need challenged to be and do better in Christ.

What suggestions would you give concerning the covering of your messages in prayer? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below!

How can we partner in a leadership retreat, PEAK Pastors conference or ongoing coaching relationship? Email me at tompelt1@gmail.com and find more information at www.tompelt.com I look forward to connecting with you!

Excerpt from PEAK Pastors – Prayer

Jesus is the Subject

imgres-1“Be BOLD!” is the theme of this year’s Church of God North American Convention and it has been a powerful week in worship and the Word! Tonight’s service features Francis Chan speaking and Larnelle Harris and Sandi Patty leading worship along with the Crossings Community Church worship band.

Praying for a mighty move of God’s Spirit! Check out the live stream at 7pm (CST) http://www.jesusisthesubject.org/church-of-god-convention-2015/

The Beauty of Foot Washing

images-1Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:14-15

What is footwashing and why should you experience it? This practice is an increasingly lost art on much of Christendom. It is the simple act of kneeling before someone and doing as the name implies and Jesus modeled, washing their feet. It is most often ceremonial (minus actual soap and scrubbing) yet the simple process of holding and “washing” in a bowl and drying with a towel is observed.

Consider 4 reasons you, your family, lead team and/or a small group should experience this ancient act…

No1 – It’s humbling. Obviously. It’s the work of a servant. But what you may discover is not simply how humbling it is to wash someone’s feet, but also to have someone wash yours. From someone you love and respect to someone you may have never met, there is a deeper work of the heart involved in this sacred act.

No2 – It lends perspective. Beyond humility, the vulnerability of the act itself is revealing. Is there hidden pride in my heart? Where do I see myself in relation to the Lord and others? Jesus’ question in John’s memory probes deeper still, “Do you understand what I have done for you?”

No3 – It’s an act of worship. The penitent posture it requires positions not only our bodies, but our souls aright before the Lord. The fragrance of such an act wafts its way before the throne of God with a sweetness that pleases the Master. He is the Savior who stooped low that we might stand before the Father. We have perhaps never been as close to God than when bowed to wash the feet of another.

No4 – Jesus said so. Okay, it’s debatable for some theologians whether he meant for us to practice this as literally as an ordinance or metaphorically as we serve others daily. Then again, maybe it’s both? It has the same credentials as the other more accepted ordinances (Baptism and Communion). Jesus modeled it, asked it of us, and the early church practiced it. Shouldn’t this be enough to encourage us to follow His lead?

Maybe this practice is not only new, but scary for you? Take the opportunity to just observe at first. Then, take the risk. Grab a towel, bend your knee and join Jesus in this timeless and sacred moment.

What about the experience of footwashing has been profound to you? How has it impacted you, your family or lead team? Share your thoughts in the Reply section below…

Preachers, Polish and Passion

images-15How do you like your preaching? If you are a pastor, how do you communicate the Word of God on a weekly basis? Does your style even matter? Consider how polish and passion can compliment one another…

Some preachers are full of passion from start to finish. You may not be able to decipher three main points (or even one), but they have our attention. They are master story-tellers and can leave people laughing and crying within moments of each other.

Other preachers deliver their message with a prepared sense of control and clarity of content. They could give a “Ted Talk” with the best of them. There seems to have been a real shift away from “fire and brimstone” towards this style in the past decade or more.

Most of us fall decidedly on one side or the other. And, why not? It’s easier at an extreme. However, finding a balance between the two takes a little more effort.

In defense of passion. God created us emotional beings. If you aren’t “feeling it,” then neither will anyone else. Authentic emotion communicates an attractive and humble vulnerability. Those listening may need more time to discern and process your content, but they will have no trouble believing you believe it, and that will go a long way towards them believing it, too. I would suggest that if you are so “professional” that you have never left the platform feeling like you were a little too emotional, then perhaps there is some pride that needs dealt with? 

In defense of polish. Let’s face it, you just can’t get past some preacher’s delivery. Their style is either like watching paint dry or an irate baseball manager after a blown call at home plate. Being polished is really about being prepared. Rehearse your message. Be so prepared that when the time comes, you can preach with passion and not lose the point, or the audience, or both. If we truly believe the message and Messenger of the Gospel is the only saving grace for human kind, then it is worth any effort to deliver it in a well-prepared package.

Go with your strength. In other words, be you. After recognizing and working enough on the weakness in your preaching, focus on your strength. Learn to leverage your passion in a way that peaks at the right time. Do this in order to motivate your audience to leave inspired to live the Good News you are sharing. Learn to leverage your polish in a way that informs not only the head, but also the heart. Interestingly enough, history is full of pulpiteers who have preached at both extremes. Nevertheless, the Spirit of God has used both powerfully to do what He wanted done in the moment.

In the end I think most people would rather be moved than impressed. (I heard that one on “The Voice” while writing this…) However, nothing moves people to life change like the pure Word of God. Make sure your style doesn’t distract from nor overshadow the essential substance of the message that alone can save.

How do you deliver your message? What would you suggest to others concerning passion and polish? Leave your advice in the Reply section below!

3 Ways to Make Thanksgiving a Verb

imagesWe all know thanksgiving should be more than a day to gather with family and eat too much turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie only to drift off into a tryptophan induced coma. The truly grateful see it as a verb. When it comes to our churches, it is tempting for the entire holiday season to come down to a series of services that celebrate what we should be living out every day of our lives. So, let’s “talk turkey” about giving thanks (Sorry, couldn’t resist.).

Here are three simple suggestion for engaging your family, small group and/or congregation in making thanksgiving a verb…

1) “Thanksgiving Crash!” Set a specific date and challenge everyone to post about something or someone they are thankful to God for on your personal, family or church’s social media sites. The only people not happy about this one may be your Social Media Team if you succeed in the “Thanksgiving Crash!”

2) Thanksgiving Letter. Challenge everyone to write a letter expressing gratitude to someone who has played a major role and had a big influence on their lives for Christ. They can email it, message it, or… they might even take the time to write it, fold it, stamp and mail it. There is still something to having and holding documents of significance. And, a letter that says, “I thank God for you!” may just be that for someone in your life.

3) Thanksgiving Offering. Prepare a space in your home or a table (or multiple stations) in your worship center. Decorate it simply so the focus will be on the centerpiece… an empty “Horn of Plenty.” Then, create “My Thanksgiving Offering” cards that everyone can use to write something they are thankful to the Lord for and then place it in the “Horn of Plenty.” ThankOfferingCard Make it a goal for the horn and table to overflow with thanksgiving to God for His amazing grace and love.

This year, make Thanksgiving a verb as never before. Take your gratitude to a whole other level with these simple ideas. Have other ideas? Leave your suggestion in the comment section below!