How Greg Laurie joining the SBC is a good thing.

Greg Laurie joined the Southern Baptist Convention! WOW. THIS makes me very happy. Here’s why.

I have a “little” Calvary Chapel in me. I’m a closet Calvary Chapel guy ūüôā but don’t take that wrong. I’m a true Baptist boy. Married a Baptist girl. And there’s no turning back. Calvary Chapel is a lot like Steve McQueen (I’m reading Greg’s book). They are cool. Baptists can always use a little, natural, cool factor. When I became a follower of Christ, Pastor Chuck Smith became my radio rabbi. He made me love the word of God. So I have a special place for Calvary Chapel in my heart. So when I heard Greg Laurie was joining the SBC, I was glad.

Greg Laurie joining the SBC is a good thing and here’s why.

Greg is the Billy Graham of our day.  Greg is filling stadiums in ways people thought was over. There have been others. DL Moody. Billy Sunday. Billy Graham. Greg Laurie. Laurie still does crusade ramp up, execution and follow up.

Greg is already a part of us.¬†He has built relationships already in the SBC.¬†Jack Graham and Greg have been friends for awhile now. And that relationship models for us what we need. It’s possible to be faith family, connected, while separate. We are using him to speak and train already.

Greg believes what we believe about evangelism.¬†He obviously is a part of stoking the fire of evangelism already. The SBC is in need to real evangelism that’s partnered with crusade level disciple making. Greg is going to help us in our desire to in some ways get back to evangelism and in other ways stay evangelistic. Regardless, he will join us and lead us in stoking the fire.

Greg is not only an evangelist but also a revivalist.¬†He comes from the a revival movement.¬†He had a front row seat to the Jesus Movement. He was a part of the last revival movement to happen in our nation. I have followed Greg and heard him preach for the last few years. I’ve seen him fire up and mobilize Calvary Chapel pastors and churches for not only evangelism, but also seeking revival in prayer.

Greg believes what we believe.¬†There’s nothing in the Baptist Faith and Message he won’t be ok with.¬†Calvary Chapel churches have theological distinctives but they are within the framework of orthodoxy. Calvary Chapel and Baptists have the same commitment to to scripture and expository preaching.

I could go on but I won’t. I’ve enjoyed my partnership with Calvary Chapel Association. Here in Ruidoso, New Mexico, I’ve enjoyed my partnership, friendship with Pastor John Marshall, the pastor of Calvary Chapel Ruidoso. I have attended the Calvary Chapel Pastors Conference for 3 years now. I have to miss this year but for sure want to go next year. One of the excellent things Calvary Chapel does is events and conferences. They are known for worship and teaching. Many churches have benefited from the influence of Calvary Chapel worship especially. The Jesus Movement influenced many. We can benefit even more with Greg Laurie joining and partnering with us.

I pray we will all be “filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:18) and “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim 4:5).

What do you think of Pastor Greg Laurie joining the SBC?


OK. I was wrong about the SBC Pastors Conference.

sbcpc02Last year at the SBC in St. Louis I was wrong about the 2017 SBC Pastors Conference.

Pastor Dave Miller was elected President of the Pastors Conference. The format would change. The change was that smaller church pastors would preach expository messages through one book of the Bible. That book is Philippians. The Getty’s are doing the music.

I’m really excited for this Pastor’s Conference and thought I would go on record of saying I was wrong about it. I”m not sure what that really means. My attitude was kinda of mellow. there were reasons. While I am a SBC pastor, I don’t like it when we have to do everything SBC. When I heart church members say, “are they Southern Baptist?” like it has to be that for approval, my heart sinks. The reason is the kingdom is made up of more than the SBC. But really, this is not what the intent was, is of the Pastor’s Conference Team. They are just modeling something good. I’m excited.

sbc2017I hope you will consider going. It’s free. You just have to get there and pay your expenses. If you’re a pastor, your church will probably cover that for you. And everyone is invited, not just pastors. The Pastor’s Conference is a day and a half conference just before the SBC 2017 in Phoenix. Check it out!

Safe Preaching.

I’ve been preaching now for 24 years. If you asked anyone in my senior class if I would be a preacher, not one person would have said yes. As usual, I was an unlikely choice. That’s how God does it. He picks unlikely people to preach the word and reach the world. My first sermon was on Easter Sunday, 1993. It scared me to death to preach. My pastor, Elijah Mitchell, called me one evening to tell me I would preach Easter Sunday. I remember pastor giving me instructions:

  • I was to encourage and not rebuke the people. If I rebuked the people, he would sit me down.
  • I was to preach for 15-20 minutes or so that was the target.

I preached from Col 3:1-3. I still have the manuscript. I think the message lasted only 15-20 minutes. I read it. After, I remember one of the deacons saying, “We needed about 20 more minutes. It’s been a long time since that first sermon. I always like to joke around by saying, “the people did not deserve that first sermon.” Yet seriously, how does one learn to preach? What makes a message fresh? What’s the difference maker in preaching?

I’ve studied preaching for a while. I like to read a preaching book every year or at least review the basic preaching books throughout the year. I also like to listen to preaching. I listen to Charles Stanley, Louie Giglio, and Skip Heitzig. Preaching is worth the effort in learning at any and all angles. As I’ve listened to preaching, I’ve come to the conclusion that some preaching is too safe. What is safe preaching?

  1.  Safe preaching lectures the Bible as facts rather than an engaging experience with the  word of God.
  2.  Safe preaching uses too many notes thus killing the preaching experience.
  3.  Safe preaching avoids controversial topics.
  4.  Safe preaching relies more on study than prayer.
  5. ¬†Safe preaching leaves people thinking “my toes got stepped on” while not seeing life ¬†change.
  6. ¬†Safe preaching doesn’t not ask people to do anything, especially to be saved, baptized, ¬†or move into places of spiritual growth.
  7.  Safe preaching seeks to please people more than God.

I’m sure the list can go on and on. I do believe there is a thing called safe preaching. How can a preacher avoid safe preaching?

Pray more than usual for the preaching experience.
Preaching will always seem powerless when prayer is only minimal. Of course the preacher is prayerful as he prepares. If you want to play it safe, that works. If you want to see more, pray more. How? Get at least one prayer hour with a few others to pour out hearts over the lost, for the preaching, and worship at your church. Second, pray specifically for the message you will preach. Pray for the experience. Pray for the people as you don’t ultimately know their needs. Your prayer will open you for the Spirit to move in ways in your message that ministers to an unrelated need in a hurting person’s soul. Recruit a praying platoon at your church. Ask them to pray “during the message.” My simple prayer throughout the week and on Sunday morning is, “Lord, I can’t do what only You can do. Save souls and change lives.” What’s your prayer for preaching and teaching the word? Are you playing it too safe? Do you pray for the ending of your message?

Write a sermon brief or manuscript, but then leave your notes at home.
Many have written on sermon notes in preaching books. Many great preachers use notes, so I’m not against them. I started using a few more this year, but mainly I use no notes. Preaching and teaching without notes means a few things:

  • Are you studied enough to be full of the word that you could preach 80% of it without notes? Preaching without notes does not mean I “wing it.” Preaching without notes means you have to study more, not less.
  • Preaching without notes means you need to write more during week. I use Evernote, which has a voice dictation option. Some parts of the message need to be spoken out on paper rather than written.
  • When you preach without notes, you really are not preaching without notes. Dr. Al Patterson once was asked “do you use notes when you preach?” He replied, “Yes I do. I use the Bible.” Dr. Haddon Robinson said the same thing when I was at Gordon-Conwell. Preaching without notes was mandatory at Gordon.
  • When you are studied full, prayed up hot, then the preaching can be an experience in the word rather than a class lecture. Not all preaching with notes is this way, but if you use notes, use them sparingly. Look people in the eyes.

Don’t play it safe. Trust God’s word. Ditch the notes after you study hard. Or use only what you have to have as notes. It makes a difference. Let the Spirit do something fresh through you.

Throw your heart on the table in life and in preaching.
People want to know the preacher is a real person. When preaching, throw your heart up on the pulpit some. Don’t talk about yourself all the time, but don’t ignore your stuff either. When you are real about your sin struggles, your sin problems, your life challenges, people respect it. You don’t have to put all of your mess out. I’m not saying that, but it helps to be real in a natural way. It may surprise people at some point, but it changes your church culture from “sanctuary for saints” to “hospital for sinners.” Don’t play it safe by acting like you have it all together by never talking about your own struggles. You don’t diminish holiness by being honest. You actually pursue it. Take a risk. Throw your heart on the table.