- Written by: Chris Appleby
If you're looking for preaching resources may we recommend the following:
EFAC's Expository Preaching platform. Here you will find a range of sermons by EFAC members. You are welcome to add your own sermons provided they use expository methods and on the condition that you provide either a full text or at least a detailed outline of the sermon in the Message Text section.
The Australasian Academy of Homiletics brings together teachers of Homiletics across Australia and New Zealand for the purpose of studying the place of preaching in theological education, discussing and sharing ideas and methods, and fostering scholarly research in Homiletics and other related disciplines.
Useful for articles on preaching
Our mission at the Centre for Biblical Preaching is to encourage and foster expository preaching and teaching in local churches throughout Melbourne, Australia, and in other countries, by providing workshops, conferences, seminars, and mentoring for preachers.
We strive to be a training centre that effectively equips churches throughout Australia and the rest of the world in expository preaching. This vision is founded on the conviction that the first and most important mark of a healthy church is faithful exposition of God’s word.
The Centre arose from the unique and ground–breaking partnership between St. James’ Old Cathedral in West Melbourne and the Church Missionary Society—Australia.
By the Grace of God – the preacher is not a coach at halftime
- Written by: Simon Manchester
When I was Chaplain to the North Sydney Bears Rugby League team (and you may know that my prayers for their humility were powerfully answered), I once went to the ‘post-mortem’ meeting on Monday and was told ‘it was probably not a good time for me to be there’.
The coach was obviously giving an expletive-laden barrage to the players (after a terrible loss) and either felt that my saintly presence would curb his freedom of speech or that he would have to explain his terms to me as he went… probably the former.
But picture the football coach at half-time as his team has shown no energy or courage or cleverness or skill (or warrant for big pay-packets) and the score is now 38-0 to the other side (if he’s a soccer coach this is serious). He will be angry – quietly or loudly.
What can he do but berate his players and tell them that they are a disgrace to the fans, to the sponsors, to themselves – and especially to him? [The flip-side to this is a fantastic first half where they are belting the opposition and congratulating themselves… but I digress].
It seems to me that too much preaching falls into the ‘coach at half-time’ category. Not that the preacher is angry but he has little to say beyond personal motivation. Think for example of a sermon in the second half of an epistle.
Preaching to the Heart
- Written by: Andrew Katay
I'll admit it. I have something of a love / hate relationship with preaching..
On the one hand, of course, I love it.
To serve the Lord by opening the Word of God to people, a word which drips with the truth and goodness and beauty of Christ, demands our highest gifts, strongest energies and most insightful thought. It drives us to prayer, for the simple reason that we long for God to use our words for His glory. Specifically, as congregations, including both believers as well as seekers, hear the Scriptures read and taught, we hope that the Spirit will convict unbelievers of sin and righteousness and judgment (Jn 16.8), bringing them to repentance and faith; and at the same time, that the Spirit will deepen believers in their repentance and faith, so that they more and more put to death the desires of the flesh and cultivate the fruit of the Spirit.
At the same time, it would be fair to say that there are times when I hate preaching. It is too much, it is too hard, it is too demanding. My limited insight, my limited time and capacity, and my very limited actual putting into practice what it is that I am preaching about assail me. I stare at a blank computer screen, a sparsely scribbled hand written sermon outline, with open Bible and commentaries strewn around, and wonder when the words will flow. Which of course is part of the dynamic of all ministry and which keeps pastors and preachers humble and prayerful.
I have found a greater freedom in preaching in the last few years, in part by getting clearer on some key questions. It was Rudyard Kipling who wrote: "I keep six honest serving-men / (They taught me all I knew); / Their names are What and Why and When / And How and Where and Who". And it is in that spirit of inquiry and curiosity that I want to ask only three questions of preaching - why do we preach? To whom do we preach? And How do we preach?
Ideas Page: Topical Sermon Series
- Written by: Ben Underwood
Every now and then I like to devise and preach a topical sermon series. Some of these have been some of the most memorable series to me, and have sometimes gotten more engagement and discussion among the congregation than is usual. I’m no master of the genre, but here are three series I have preached.
THE APOSTLES’ CREED
I thought preaching through the creed would be good catechesis—a chance to present a mini-systematic theology, an overview of the gospel story. If people knew the bones of the creed, and through this sermon series could put some flesh on those bones, they might be clearer on the gospel themselves, and better equipped to explain it to others. The series went: Founding Father (Psalm 104, James 1:16-18), Incarnate Son (Luke 1:26-38, Col 1:15-20), Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53:1-6, Rom 3:21-26), Exalted King (Acts 17:22-31, Phil 2:5-11) and finally, Life-giving Spirit (Acts 2:1-21, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28). I did not expound any one of the readings, but preached sermons expounding the fatherhood of God, the incarnation of Christ, the atoning exchange of the suffering servant, his now and future reign, and the ways God is transforming the world to perfect Christ’s work. Years later a woman told me that when she had just come to church she arrived in time to hear these sermons and they were perfect for her as someone who needed a walk through the basics and the big picture. That was nice to hear.
THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS
Every so often someone writes a novel or makes a TV series based on the seven deadly sins: anger, pride, lust, greed, sloth, gluttony and envy. If they can give appeal to a TV series, why not to a sermon series? I developed these talks using a consistent set of questions to give structure, namely: 1) What is sin X, and why is it your enemy? 2) How is Jesus the remedy for sin X? 3) How is living by the Spirit the therapy for sin X? And 4) What do you need to do? This repetition (hopefully) hammers home the message that sin is your enemy, Jesus is the remedy and living by his Spirit is our therapy in this life, and that there are particular steps to take in escaping these sins. The individual sins bring out different sides of Jesus’ holiness of life and atoning work as they are opposed to all sin. His life and death are all humility, against all pride. His life and death for us are his faithful industry in God’s service, against all sloth. His life and death are his satisfaction in doing God’s will, against all gluttony and insatiability. After the gluttony sermon a group formed spontaneously to pursue the discussion. They read a book together and met several times. Food is a big deal, connected to a lot of personal issues, but it is not much talked about from the front of church (unless, for example, you preach through the seven deadly sins).
- Written by: Mark Juers/Joel Kettleton
Watch out mega-churches, video sermons have a new frontier!
Essentials speaks with Joel Kettleton about pioneering something new in a digital era.
WHAT IS YOUR MINISTRY SETTING?
I’m the rector of the Anglican Parish of Sorell, Richmond & Tasman in the south-east of Tasmania. I’ve been here for eight years, initially as a curate then a locum and now the Senior Minister for the last five years. My context is a combined parish that has been joined together in some form for 130 years and we have a mixture of small congregations as well as larger ones. We meet in convict built buildings with small isolated congregations as well as a growing new church plant in a satellite suburb of Hobart. From top to bottom I have to cover 120 kilometres. A typical Sunday is that I’ll be at one service in the morning and one service in the afternoon but we have concurrent services happening in other places at the same time.
WHAT CHALLENGES DOES THAT GENERATE?
There is a big challenge of having good preaching that is consistent at each service every week. We have people who are able to help run services but they are not able or willing to preach.
I have the challenge of juggling many things at the same time. None of the congregations are the same but each has a unique identity and rhythm to their worship life. This makes it hard to manage the whole parish and use our limited time well. The question we have to keep asking is how do we grow a healthy church in each place, whether it’s a congregation of 5 or 50. We really want to identify people’s gifts and mobilise them for ministry so that they are confident disciples. We want them to be sharing their faith and making disciples themselves. This is really difficult when there’s 5 and you don’t live in the area and you’re not even there each week.
WHY DID YOU EXPLORE USING VIDEOS FOR SERMONS?
I wanted to be able to multiply the delivery of messages. Having seen large churches like City on a Hill do this across large congregations made me think this made sense to do this in smaller remote congregations as well. In places where I could train people to run church services but I couldn’t train preachers I’d rather have our local content that we were working on together delivered by video than just buying sermons off the shelf. When you buy or use someone else’s videos it’s not personal so when we’re talking about pastoring and preaching to your congregation that’s a big problem. Many videos are made for another cultural context so it can be hard for people to connect, they are like “yes, we’re just watching a video”. But there’s a real pastoral connection when we can make videos and preach to our congregation when we’ve got their feedback, when we’ve incorporated their story into the content. When we use b-roll from their location, it makes them feel like they’re part of the sermon.
WHAT MADE YOU THINK YOU COULD DO IT?
I watched a lot of youtube! Even the simplicity and effectiveness of video calling supports this. If such a simple thing could be done in a way that it is presented well, the technology is there now to be able to do that easily. I made my own youtube channel making music and car related videos and this helped me learn about the equipment and the craft of basic videography and content creation. I then spent a lot of time learning how to produce videos and once I’d done that it was a simple thing to combine video creation with preaching.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ALONG THE WAY?
I have a high threshold for failure. I didn’t know anything about lighting since I didn’t come from a photography background, so just used gear that I had. I learnt that it has to be short, no more than 10 mins unless it’s excellent and has different sections in it since our attention span on screen is very different to being in person. I learnt a lot about looking into the camera to engage with people, simple things that people who make videos know but takes some effort to turn it into a habit when you’re starting out.
I wanted to include the words of scripture on the screen so I spent a lot of time listening to feedback about how it didn’t quite work out, it was either too short or too long. It was interesting to find out about how people listen and read in different ways.
I wasn’t coached through any of this by an experienced content creator and if I had other people around me and been able to do a course this would have changed how quickly it was improved. However, it gave us a big opportunity to pastorally connect with the people I was making this for over the idea and work on it together. If they didn’t like the colour of the background they’d tell me, they said that it hurt their eyes. If they didn’t like the quality of the sound then I needed to change the sound setup and use a lapel mic. In a way, each of these failures was a win because we could collaborate on it and work together. In my context and especially with the tiny remote corners of the parish this was really important because they had never experienced anything digital like this before. They had only experienced a person and a prayer book so this was an enormous change.
Not only did I have to learn how to produce the content at my end, I had to learn how to display the content at their end. I wasn’t streaming it because our areas don’t have internet connections. Their buildings are not set up with wiring and some only have a single power point. I started with DVDs but didn’t like the way the editing program produced the DVDs, it was just too difficult. So I kept it to mp4 files stored on a USB and sent to the location. It was a challenge getting physical USB before their sermon time on a Sunday and making sure it is all set up and ready to work. I would mail it to them or I’d get someone to pick it up on their way back into the country. Several times I had to drive it out myself which is worth the three hour return trip except when they forget to turn the power box on and it doesn’t end up working! Thankfully they are resilient congregations and they have leaders to take the initiative and make the most of the time.
DOES IT NEED A LOT OF TECH GEAR?
No! Initially I just had my laptop with the webcam, that was it. My mobile phone with a microphone input actually works well enough to record something wherever I am and doesn’t require me to carry loads of gear around. However, using a DSLR or two with a Zoom audio recorder increases the quality a lot. For editing I started on Windows Movie Maker and then shifted to Powerdirector when I needed to synch audio and do other more complicated things.
WHAT IMPACT DO YOU THINK THIS HAS HAD?
It has meant that I can help my congregations as a pastor and teacher and they don’t feel like they’ve been abandoned. They really appreciate the energy and time put into it and it has kept our pastoral bond between semi-regular visiting.
It has also meant I’ve had to learn how to preach differently. I don’t have a teleprompter or something to read from so that has changed how I deliver the sermon and I’ve had to condense big sermons down into smaller versions.
This also has seeded a whole bunch of ideas for content creation in rural churches. It has led us in our parish to think creatively about how we can use pre-recorded content in places where they don’t have access to preachers. Beyond this we have joined in a bigger project picked up by the Tasmanian diocese who have partnered with Bush Church Aid. There is now a much larger scale project to produce digital content that can be released across the rural parts of the diocese.
ANY OTHER THOUGHTS FOR THOSE CONSIDERING SOMETHING LIKE THIS?
It can be daunting starting out but like any new skill, if you repeat a thousand times it becomes second nature. We’ve found that our whole staff team have become a lot more confident making videos. We’re more natural and capable, we do better editing, and we’re much more comfortable in front of a camera and watching ourselves on screen.
There is a danger with all this if we think every person should be doing video content all the time. It really is the context that needs to drive what you’re doing with video. If you want to take this on yourself, you need to have the creative knack or someone talented in your parish because the editing takes the longest. For me it was a way of presenting the gospel as well as I could in multiple places at the same time. If I was the pastor of a single congregation I wouldn’t have had that need, so don’t make video sermons unless you have a very good reason. Video is never as good as being in person, being physically present is always the ideal.