5 Reasons Every Pastor Should do Sermon Prep Outside the Office

pastor's prepping for sermonsI’ve been a pastor 30 years and only in the last few have I discovered the value of studying outside my church and home office. I’ll go either  to McDonalds (cheap food) or Panera (good atmosphere and the place I prefer). Both provide free Wi-Fi. I don’t recommend spending all your time away from the office, but I’ve found that doing so at least once a week benefits me and the ministry in these ways.

  1. Productivity: Less interruptions from others.
  2. Creativity: A different environment spurs it.
  3. Focus: Less distractions help me concentrate better (like cleaning up our office or playing with something on our desks that can distract us in our offices).
  4. Energy: A different ambiance/atmosphere gives me more.
  5. Stress management: I feel less of it in a neutral environment.

One other suggestion. To block out noise, I use ear buds plugged into my iPhone and listen to nature sounds on the Ambiance app.

Have you discovered any other advantages of studying outside the office?

Related posts: The iPhone App that Improved my Concentration

Interactive Preaching with the iPad

preaching from an ipadI’ve posted a few blogs about my journey using the iPad to preach (see related posts below).

Thus far I’ve loved using it. I own the original iPad and I’m waiting to upgrade until next year’s version releases.

Here’s my current sermon prep and delivery process.

  1. Write sermons on a Word doc on my Airbook.
  2. Convert doc to a PDF.
  3. Drop PDF into Dropbox on my Mac.
  4. Open Dropbox on my iPad.
  5. Open the PDF in Noterize.
  6. Mark up my PDF.
  7. Enthrall millions with my eloquent preaching (oops, Freudian slip there…I meant preach to a few hundred) :)
  8. Here’s a snapshot of what one page looked look from last week’s talk on spiritual gifts.

    preaching with an ipad

    This week I’m trying something new.

    Top 10 Ways to Handle the Church Critic

    pastors handling church criticsOne well-worn adage reads, “The two things you can’t avoid in life are death and taxes.”

    I’d like to suggest one more, for those in ministry.

    The two things pastors can’t avoid are…

    people late to the service and…


    Having served in full-time ministry for 30 years, I’ve experienced my share of critics. I’ve responded well to some and not-so-well to others. When I’ve sensed a good heart from the critic, I tend to respond with more grace.

    As Abe Lincoln said, “He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.

    Here are 10 ways I’ve learned to respond to my critics (actually 9, I’d love to hear your 10th).

      • Give them your ear, but within reason. Don’t allow someone to destroy you with caustic criticism.
      • Let your body language communicate that you are truly trying to understand.
      • Avoid an immediate retort such as “Yea but,” or “You’re wrong,” or some other defensive response.
      • Breath this silent prayer, “Lord, give me grace to respond and not react.”
      • Before responding take a few moments to check what you’re about to say. Abe used to suggest counting to 100 when you get angry. That may a bit of overkill, but he is on to something.
      • Look for the proverbial ‘grain of truth’ in the criticism.
      • If you see more than a grain of truth and you can’t process it alone, seek feedback from the safe person in your life. (see my blog post on What to Look for in a Safe Person).
      • Ask God to keep you approachable to your critics (within reason). You probably don’t want to vacation with them. :)
      • Learn from your critics on how best to deliver criticism to others. When someone delivers criticism that you received well, ask yourself what about how they did it made it easer to receive. For those who botched it, remember to avoid their tactics.
      • …… tell me how you’ve responded to your critics. I’d love for you to give me a 10th.

      Related posts.: How to Deal with Criticism.In this article I suggest a simple acrostic in responding to critics…LEARN

      6 Tips on How Pastors can Help Others Discover their Spiritual Gifts

      pastors helping others discover their spiritual giftsWe’re teaching a series on spiritual gifts at our church. You can listen to the podcasts here if you’d like. As a pastor, the more people discover, develop, and deploy their gifts, the healthier the church becomes.  Here are 6 tips I suggest to others to help them discover their gifts.

      1. Ask yourself, “What do I enjoy doing/what do I do well?”

      A good indicator of where a person’s giftedness lies may be found in activities that give us joy and satisfaction and interests us. Encourage others to get in touch with spheres of service that produce a flow of inner joy, excitement and energy. Helping others find what God made them for produces great joy.

      2. As yourself, “If I could I would…”

      If I could do ______ and time and money were no issue, what would I do?  If i knew I couldn’t fail what would I do to make a difference?  If I could I would address what concerns, area of peoples’ lives, or areas in the church to make things better or improve things?

      3. Pray.

      What do you sense in your heart is your gift? Where do you get a sense of peace?