Saturday Shout-Outs: Podcast, Sermons, & Ministry Links

Good day and thanks for reading my blog! 

photoThe On Preaching Podcast will debut next week. The podcast will be dedicated to helping you preaching faithfully, clearly, and better. I hope you will listen and share. ! I will begin my weekly sermon manuscript distribution, as well. Sign up in the box to the right to join the weekly sermon list.

H.B. Charles Jr: On Whooping

CIS Conf logo 2014Registration is open for the Cutting It Straight Expository Preaching Conference I will host at the Shiloh Church in Jacksonville on September 24-26, 2014. Make plans to meet us for this great event. The conference is open to all.Hope to see you there.

The E.K. Bailey Preaching Conference is a little more than a month away. It is always a great week of teaching, preaching, and fellowship. You don’t want to miss it!

Melanie Pratt: Gospel Music and Charlotte Community Mourn the Loss of Melvin Crispell 

Kevin Smith: Strengthening Marriages through Biblical Preaching

Hershael York: Maintaining Unity when Doctrine can be Divisive: 5 Mistakes Pastors Make

Justin Taylor: 50 Strategies for Better Preaching 

Brian Croft: Why should a pastor use all his vacation time each year? 

Chad Hall: When a Pastor Prepares to Leave

Thom Rainer: 10 Ways to Recognize our Arrogance

Owen Strachan: Money is Nice 

Russell Moore: What I’ve Learned in Twenty Years of Marriage 

Melissa Edgington: What I Didn’t Do Today 

Dane C. Ortland: What Does the Bible Say About Swearing? 

A commitment to expository preaching should develop the preacher into a mature Christian. – Haddon Robinson

Do you have any shout-outs or ministry links to share? Join the conversation in the comments section. 

On Whooping

BusinessMan with MegaphoneThe first preacher to influence me was my father. He was more of an orator than a whooper. His preaching had a rhythm and cadence. But he, and most of his preaching colleagues, were not real whoopers.

Then it happened.

I heard whooping. Real whooping. At the conclusion of the sermon, the preacher turned his words into music. In a real sense, he started singing his sermon.

I immediately determined that was the way I wanted to preach. So I began to practice. And I started listening to good whoopers. Being able to sing a bit, I was able to imitate what I heard. And it wasn’t long before I developed my own whoop.

My father was not pleased with this development at all. He allowed me to preach occasionally. But when I finished, he would publicly chastise me for whooping. He did everything he could to get me to read good books, rather than listing to preaching tapes. My dad constantly warned me against being a stereotype. He wanted me to be able to stand anywhere and preach.

But I was like a tree planted by the waters. I would not be moved! I kept working at it, until I became an above-average whooper. And it became a featured part of my preaching. Over time, however, my thoughts and feelings about whooping changed.

Several factors broadened my perspective.

First of all, changes in my voice forced me to less dependent on my voice. More importantly, I became a student of expositional preaching. And if you are trying to be faithful to the text, every sermon cannot end with a celebration. Likewise, I started becoming a pastor. I increasingly wanted to see my congregation grow spiritually. This requires more than “having church.” They needed teaching. And because the majority of my people did not come to Sunday School or Bible study; I decided that my Sunday morning preaching had to have a strong teaching element.

I was also encouraged to be more than a whooper by listening to very strong African-American preachers who did not whoop. Some could not do it. But they didn’t need it. Others were good whoopers, but de-emphasized it. I once asked a preacher I looked up to what he did to protect his voice. He bluntly said that he didn’t think about stuff like that. “You young preachers worry about stuff like that,” he said. That rebuke caused me to grow up quickly.

I began a new pastorate a few years ago. And the church had a TV broadcast and live streamed its services. Consequently, more people had the opportunity to hear me preach on Sunday mornings. Some preacher friends claimed I got to Jacksonville and stopped whooping. But most had only heard me preach on the road. They had not heard my Sunday preaching in Los Angeles, even though several years of my Sunday sermons were online. Most weeks I preached for an hour. But I did not whoop. And I believe the church was better for it.

As I chat up preachers around the country, I am asked, “What do you think about whooping? I often answer that question in two sentences.

There is a legitimate place for whooping in preaching. But the place of whooping in preaching is not central.

The Legitimate Place of Whooping

Emotionalism is dangerous. But emotional is natural part of true worship. Jesus taught that God desires to be worshiped in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). Objective truth is essential to worship. But so is sincere, personal, heartfelt experience. God is not honored by worship that is all head and no heart.

I don’t feel the need to defend passion in worship. The burden of proof is on those who think otherwise. I dare you to read the psalms and make a case for subdued worship. Most arguments against passion in worship are cultural, not biblical. So I have no problem with people saying “Amen” to the sermon, giving verbal affirmation of the truth. And I don’t have a problem with the preacher and congregation celebrating the truth at the end of the message.

Admittedly, it is a part of the culture I grew up in. But a biblical case can be made for both light and heat in worship. Worship should consist of both sound doctrine and high praise. In a real sense, whooping can be an intersection where the two meet.

The Limited Place of Whooping

It is not true worship if it is all head and no heart. But the opposite is also true. Singing and shouting is empty if you don’t know what your singing and shouting about. Real worship is about more than how you feel about God. It is our total response to the biblical revelation of nature, character, authority, goodness, and purpose of God. This kind of God-centered praise cannot happen without sound, faithful, biblical preaching and teaching.

There is a place in worship to shout for joy. And there is also a place to sit down and listen. But whooping can potentially crowd out the space designed for quiet, prayerful, and diligent reflection. The truth of the text should govern your message. But so should the tone of the text. If the preacher is doing his job, some weeks the congregation should go home rejoicing over God’s goodness some weeks and go home wrestling with their conscious as they look into the mirror of the word.

My advice is that you don’t worry about whooping. It’s just not that important. Focus on getting the text right. Focus on making your message clear. Focus on giving a compelling argument.

It’s okay if people are moved to celebrate the truth. But don’t confuse the congregation’s response to your presentation – be it with humor, sad stories, or whooping – with repentance, faith, or obedience to the truth.

As the old preachers used to say, good meat makes it own gravy.

What do you think? Feel free to comment. 

Notes from Sunday | Memorial Day Weekend 2014

Happy Memorial Day!

SHILOH_Final_white bk_no circle_4Today is an anniversary, of sorts, for me. I first preached at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church the last weekend of May, six years ago.

Unfortunately, I did not get to worship with my congregation today, as I was away on assignment. But I heard it was a great day of worship. Thanks to our pastors, staff, and volunteers for carrying on in my absence. You make it happen!

I preached today at the Parkside Church in Cleveland, where Alistair Begg is Pastor-Teacher. I have read Alistair Begg’s books and listened to his Truth For Life messages for many years. And I was honored to preach the three morning services at Parkside for him today. What a church!

Last Fall, I preached with Alistair Begg at The Expositors Summit at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. During our time together, Begg told me it wasn’t fair that I was stuck with just initials. So he named me, “Henry Billingsworth.” And he told me I could call him, “A.B.”

My friend, Keelan Atkinson, preached in my absence at Shiloh today.

I blame Keelan for me being at Shiloh. Six years ago, Keelan persistently gave the Shiloh’s deacon chairman my name, until he called and invited me to preach. But he made it clear that it was just an invitation to preach, which was fine by me. I was content where I was and had no desire to leave Mt. Sinai Church in Los Angeles.

I preached at Shiloh for the first time Memorial Day weekend, 2008.

The week before my visit, a pulpit committee member called me to say there was some who thought I should be seriously considered for their pastoral opening. And they asked me to meet with the committee, deacons, and trustees over the weekend. I did. And it was the worst “candidate” interviews in church history!

THEM: So what is your vision for Shiloh?

ME: I don’t have a vision for Shiloh? I have a vision for Mt. Sinai.

THEM: How would you handle counseling situations here?

ME: I don’t know. This is how I do it at Mt. Sinai. How do you handle it here?

THEM: What would yo do to minister to the youth?

ME: I have absolutely no idea.

You get the picture.

At the end of the meeting with the deacons, one of the young deacons bluntly asked, “Why are you here? Why did they bring you here? Can you even preach? (This young man would later drive me to my room. Awkward ride. Sorry, Patrick. LOL).

When I made it to the room, I was beat. I prepared for bed and called Crystal before I turned in. “How did it go?” she asked. I told her that I had two sermons to preach in the morning and then I would be on the first plane back to Los Angeles to get back to my life and ministry.

WRONG!

I preached Sunday morning and returned home to get back to business. Less than three months later, I was ending my ministry in Los Angeles and packing up my family to move to Jacksonville.

The Lord dragged me to Jacksonville kicking and screaming. But I am so glad the Lord knows better than I do and that the Lord has the last word.

I am blessed to serve a wonderful congregation where the Lord is doing great things. And I pray the Lord will give us many more years of fruitful labor as partners in the gospel to the glory of God!

I spoke at a conference earlier this year where The Collingsworth Family led the music. What a blessing! Between two events, I heard them do a number of songs. But this one, “Fear Not Tomorrow,” stuck with me.

One reason I love this song is because they sing the chorus of “I Don’t Know About Tomorrow” in it, which is one of the first songs my mother taught me to sing. This song is a rich encouragement to trust God no matter what tomorrow brings. God is already there! Enjoy!

Saturday Shout-Outs: Moody PC, Praise Night, & Ministry Links

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Thanks to Dr. Paul Nyquist for the opportunity to speak at Moody’s 2014 ReFocus Pastors Conference.

A big shout-out to our Pastor of Worship, Joe Pace, for leading Praise Night 2014 at the Shiloh Church this weekend. It was a great night of corporate worship!

Check out my new post: Gospel Artists, Please, Pick a Side!

CIS Conf logo 2014Registration is open for the Cutting It Straight Expository Preaching Conference I will host at the Shiloh Church in Jacksonville on September 24-26, 2014. Make plans to meet us for this great event. And tell your friends.

 

Chris Hefner: Preaching as “Whetting Your Appetite for the Word of God”

Mark Sayers: 10 Tips for Christian Leaders Who Don’t Want to Become Self-Promoting Jerks Online

Russell Moore: How Should Pastors Address Divorce & Remarriage? 

Thom Rainer: Nine Heartfelt Things Pastors Would Like to Say to Church Members

Jonathan Leeman: Six Principles For Youth Ministry

Ed Stetzer: Are Youth Groups Bad? 

The Overview Bible Project: The 10 Least Popular Books of the Bible 

David Murray: 6 Motives to Study the Least Popular Books in the Bible

Colleen Chao: Sexual Desire and the Single Girl (10 Tips for Purity)

Michael Hyatt: 4 Strategies for Cutting Your To-Do List in Half

On PreachingI am a proponent of writing complete sermon manuscripts, whether you take it to the pulpit or not. Diligent study can result in flat sermons if you do not think through what you want to say and how you want to say it. It is not enough to have an outline and then basically wing it from there. Write yourself clear. – H.B. Charles Jr., On Preaching, p. 66

 

Do you have any shout-outs or ministry links to share? Feel free to comment. 

Gospel Artists, Please, Pick a Side!

Have you heard the one about the Civil War soldier who couldn’t decide whether he wanted to fight with the Union or the Confederates? So he wore Confederate gray pants and a Union blue jacket to war. And he was shot by both sides!

I imagine this is how Gospel Music artists often feel.

Many Gospel artists feel their gifts and work are unappreciated by the church and disrespected by the world. They really don’t know which side to fight for. But, with all due respect, this local pastor and passionate fan begs you to pick a side!

No, I am not trying to coerce you to commit yourself exclusively to the church. At this point, I think it would be best for everyone involved if you just pick a side. Any side.

I point my finger at the choir loft fully aware that I have four fingers pointing back at the pulpit. For the sake of ministerial success and prominence, too many pastor-teachers are theologically running with the rabbits and hunting with the hounds at the same time. And the contagious disease in the pulpit is affecting those in the band pit and the choir stand.

Yet there is still reason to point a finger at influential Gospel Music artists.

BET recently announced it would no longer air its popular, Celebration of Gospel. But this is not a sign of persecution. It is the world’s platform. Let them do with it what they choose.

The gospel has a platform. It is called the church. But many Gospel artists really don’t desire the validation of the church. They want the approval of the world, evidenced by a show where R&B singers who have no public or clear commitment to Christ sing duets with Gospel artists.

One prominent artist complained on social media after the BET decision. He claimed that Gospel Music is dying because the church will not support it. He’s right. But it is not for the reason many artists think. Christians are not cheap. But they increasingly refuse to support music that is targeted to the world, and not the church.

The argument is made that the gospel is for the world, not just the church. Therefore, Gospel artists should view the larger, secular music industry as a mission field to penetrate. But this argument does not acknowledge that the church is the pillar and buttress of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). In a real sense, the gospel does not make sense without the church that makes it make sense.

Writing and performing music that ministers to the church is a special calling and solemn stewardship. We need musicians who will teach and lead the church in corporate worship.

Unfortunately, many church musicians and choir directors look to the latest Gospel recordings for worship music. As a result, corporate worship has become a glorified Sunday’s Best competition, rather than worship in spirit and truth. Singers want to be stars more than they want to exalt Jesus.

Imagine this. I stand in a chair. You stand in front of me. As we lock hands, I try to pull you up and you try to pull me down. Who wins? It is easer for you to pull me down than for me to pull you up.

The world has pulled Gospel Music down. In leaning over to reach the world, the church has fallen in. And I do not say this in reference to musical style. I am talking about the content, focus, and purpose of today’s music.

Praise God for the exceptions! Listen to them. Buy them. Encourage them. Invite them. Sing them. But the church should ignore the Gospel artists who are obviously more concerned about making money, becoming famous, and having their music affirmed by the world.

If that’s what you want, fine. Go get it. But let the church be the church!

For God’s sake, please pick a side!

What do you think? What do you think about the state of Gospel Music? How can we encourage better music for corporate worship? 

Recommended Resource

A Wake Up Call For Gospel Artists 

10 Recommendations to Gospel Artist from a Loyal Fan and Concerned Pastor

Saturday Shout-Outs: NCP2014, Phoenix, & Ministry Links

Thanks for reading my blog site. Saturday Shout-Outs is my weekly bulletin board of things I find helpful and interesting. Enjoy!

Shout-out to Michael Diduit the Preaching.com team for the opportunity to speak at the National Conference on Preaching in Atlanta. Looking forward to hosting the NCP2015 in Jacksonville! 

Shout-out to Bishop Alexis Thomas for inviting me again to speak at the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in Phoenix!

Shout-out to the SBTS Southern Blog for posting my article: Summer Vacation for Full-Time Christians

CIS Conf logo 2014

I am excited about the initial interest in the upcoming Cutting It Straight Expository Preaching Conference. It will meet in Jacksonville, Florida, September 24-26, 2014. Register now. And invite your friends. Hope to see you there!

R. Albert Mohler: Why So Many Churches Hear So Little of the Bible

Andrew Webb: Common Problems in Modern Preaching

Andy Naselli: Be More Specific Than “Points” or “Things” 

Josh Vincent: R-Rated Texts for an R-Rated World

Michael Lawrence: Who Should Pick the Music?

Ed Welch: Offer Advice Very Carefully

Brian Croft: Should a Pastor Use an iPad, iPhone, or Printed Copy of the Bible to Minister Scripture to People?

Hershael York: 5 Moves to Integrate Theology Into Your Ministry

Russell Moore: The Church Needs More Tattoos

John Pond: 4 Ways to Minister to Older Saints

Thom Rainer: 10 Reflections on Leadership

On PreachingGood preaching is not just an art. It is also a science. There are rules to obey, guidelines to follow, and principles to practice for effecting preaching. So one of the best things you can do is study preaching. Become a study of homiletics. Work to master your craft. – H.B. Charles Jr., On Preaching, 112

 

Do you have any shout-outs or ministry links to share, feel free to share.  

I am scheduled to speak at the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church tonight at 6:30 PM (PST), at it celebrates 92 years of ministry. Bishop Alexis Thomas has served this church since he was a teenager and is now the seasoned leader of this strong congregation. I have preached at Pilgrim Rest for the past several years. And it is always a great time of worship. Please pray for tonight’s service. And if you are in the Phoenix area, consider this your personal invitation to join us.

Date: May 16, 2014
Time: 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Event: Speaking @ Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church | Phoenix
Sponsor: Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church
Venue: Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church
602-258-0831
Location: 1401 E. Jefferson Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85034
Public: Public