Pivoting Your Summer Preaching Series

Preaching Today - Summer PivotI had the privilege of joining Preaching Today with Lawrence Aker III and Matt Woodley for a webinar last week on the topic of pivoting summer preaching series. Initially available only for members of Preaching Today, they recorded the webinar and posted in online here, where you can watch it in its entirety, as well as see the many resources shared by participants. I learned so much from everyone who participated and I hope you will as well.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we at Preaching Today thought it would be good to get pastors together and talk about their summer sermon series. We had a wonderful chance to chat with a few Preaching Today members about how they have or have not pivoted their summer series.

If you missed the webinar be sure to check out the video! And join Matt Woodley, Lawrence Aker III, and Matt Erickson as they discuss their summer sermon series. We also invited 4 attendees to discuss their series with us live during the webinar. (The series ideas that are discussed live are in bold below.) This video is well worth your time and will hopefully provide you with some creative ideas to help you think about your own summer series.

[Read more here]

The Weekend Wanderer: 21 March 2020

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.


Microscopic view of Coronavirus, a pathogen that attacks the respiratory tract. Analysis and test, experimentation. Sars“Coronavirus Resource Center” – Please take a look at this resource from Harvard Medical School, which provides answers to important questions that many of us have about the nature of COVID-19. One of the most important things to read on this relates to the spread of the virus. “A recent study found that the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The researchers also found that this virus can hang out as droplets in the air for up to three hours before they fall. But most often they will fall more quickly.” We should be aware of these facts and adjust appropriately, not just for our own sake but out of love for our neighbor.


1_lwPg8Ugu1wPz6XFcOpSgyA“Leading Beyond the Blizzard: Why Every Organization Is Now a Startup” – Andy Crouch, Kurt Keilhacker, and Dave Blanchard offer a sober look at how the COVID-19 pandemic is more than a blizzard we can wait out, but a potential ice age that will deeply affect the nature of all that we do for the next 12-18 months. I strongly encourage you to read this article. “In any case, responsible leaders have no choice, today, but to assume that the winter is upon us, and an ice age of unknown duration is before us. We are playing a game no one now living has ever played before. We are, for reasons only God knows, on the front line, on the starting team. Let us act boldly, today, to build as best we can, for the love of our neighbor and the glory of God.”


Spiritual Rhythms for Quarantine“Spiritual Rhythms for Quarantine” – If you’re not familiar with Justin Earley’s book, The Common Rule, I would highly recommend if you have free time now to give it a read. However, if you do not have capacity to read the entire book, I would strongly recommend that you take a look at this resource for individuals and groups adapted for the situation of quarantine related to COVID-19.


cs-lewis_at_desk“C.S. Lewis on Times of Fear” – Thanks to Chase Replogle of Pastor Writer for posting this extended quotation from C. S. Lewis on facing fears, followed by an extended reflection on Psalm 91. Writing from the context of post-World War II and the growing threats of the atomic age, Lewis’ words are bracing for us in this day. “In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. ‘How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.'”


116063“20 Prayers to Pray During This Pandemic” – Jen Pollock Michel writes: “In recent days, as COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic and countries have taken urgent measures to stem the spread of infection, I wish I could say that my first impulse has been to pray. It’s probably more honest to say that I’ve obsessively refreshed my feeds….With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of 20 prayers to pray during this pandemic. Each one addresses the specific needs of a specific community.”


article_5e6edf554f658“The Time of the Virus – Ephraim Radner offers this insightful look at the life of the church in what he terms “the time of the virus.” He looks at the calling to quarantine through the lens of jubilee, which may give us a new way of reflecting on this. He also sees the church’s struggle with the virus to actually be a challenge—a provocation—to be the church and engage the culture in new ways that we have missed in recent days.


fear not“Preaching in the Wake of COVID-19” – Preaching Today quickly pulled together a number of resources for pastors who are trying to figure out how to pivot the ministry of preaching to meet the changes of this day and time. Resources include Jeremy McKeen’s sermon “Christians and the Coronavirus” from Matthew 6, Max Lucado on “Facing Fears” as a preacher, Darrell Johnson on “Preaching During the COVID-19 Pandemic” with reference to Romans 8, Lee Eclov on “Preaching God’s Unfathomable Comfort,” Scott Gibson’s “Preaching and Panic,” and my own article “The Ministry of Preaching in the Time of COVID-19.” Thanks to the editors for the invitation to contribute and for so quickly pulling this resource together.


church cancelled“Places of worship need immediate government support, too” – Sean Speer and Brian Dijkema call for government attention to the supports that churches will need financially and in other ways as a result of the pandemic. Writing from Canada, they call public officials to recognize the needs of this moment not just in terms of social, economic, educational, and medical spheres, but also in the sphere of spiritual care and support for people.


_111334288_kids_976alamy“Coronavirus: Should you let your children play with other children?” – I found this practical guidance from the BBC about social distancing and children helpful as many of us navigate having children home due to school cancellations: 1) Follow guidance of local health authority on what’s safe; 2) Avoid playgrounds or other high-touch areas; 3) Go outside!; 4) Interact with friends and family over the internet or video chat. I also saw that Crossway Publishers is offering free e-resources during this time.


Music: Mahalia Jackson, “I Know It Was the Blood

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]

The Ministry of Preaching in the Time of COVID-19

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On Monday, the team at Preaching Today invited me and a number of others to write something related to our current situation. That invitation spawned the article, “The Ministry of Preaching in the Time of COVID-19.” You can read the entire article here, but I’m including an excerpt below.

The last few weeks have seen such quick changes in the state of our nation that it is often difficult to keep up. For preachers, the context of our ministry is radically different now than it was just a weekend or two earlier. A weekend ago, I might have written some of us, but now I write with confidence that all of us are preaching differently than we ever imagined. How do we navigate these days in the preaching ministry? This question has so many answers, but let me provide some contours for considering how we approach the ministry of preaching in the time of COVID-19.

Remember the Core Message

Every day brings shifting messages in our own city, state or province, nation, and the greater world about the nature of this pandemic. With all these messages coming at us daily and hourly, it is so vital for preachers to remember the message they proclaim. Even as we pay careful attention to the guidelines offered for overall health and wellness at this time, I also want to encourage us as preachers to step back from all this messaging in order to remember our core message in Christ. Without taking time to consider the message of God’s good story in the Bible, as well as key themes of our faith that seem particularly pertinent at this time, we may lose our way, not only as preachers, but as Christians…

Pivoting Our Preaching

Even as we remember our core message, it is self-evident that we need to pivot the way we preach in these times. Let me offer three areas in which we could pivot toward new ways of preaching so that our message can both reach people and stay fresh for our present moment. In no way are these areas exhaustive, but I hope they suggest some ways we can continue with creative and vibrant preaching now…

Preaching on Sexuality: A Theological Framework

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Last week I had the privilege of joining Matt Woodley of Preaching Today to talk about “Preaching on Sexuality: A Theological Framework” as part of the Monday Morning Preacher podcast. We talked about the the challenges and opportunities of preaching on sexuality, gender, love, and the body.  A good deal of the conversation is a reflection of a series from this past November at Eastbrook Church, “Love – Sex – Body: Toward a Theology of Embodied Sexuality.” Another resource that you could look at is the bibliography for that series here.

How do we give a theological framework for thinking about specific sexual issues? Matt Woodley talks to Matt Erickson, Senior Pastor at Eastbrook Church about his experience with preaching on sexuality. His church took the concept of the four chapter gospel: creation (the original goodness of sexuality), fall (how sin, evil and brokenness impact our love), redemption (Jesus redeeming work is significant for love, and our life in our bodies) and restoration (points to the new heaven and the new earth). He challenged people to think about how their love, conception of the body, and sexuality fit together in that big story of God. As a result, the church can then engage with issues like adultery, pornography, homosexuality, gender dysphoria etc…

Check out what was referenced on the podcast:

Matt Woodley serves as the Editor for PreachingToday.com and the Pastor of Compassion Ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also the author of God With Us: The Gospel of Matthew (IVP).