A burden of my heart for many, many years is how I can best be used to equip pastors and other leaders in the local church. Time pressures seem to grow greater and burdens heavier with each succeeding generation. Even today, when information is more readily available than ever before, preparing sermons and small group or Sunday School lessons can often be pushed into a corner.
To assist leaders I am beginning a new type of post that will run most Tuesdays focused on providing content helpful to those tasked with teaching or preaching in the local church. You can expect videos, quotes, word studies, anecdotes, research & statistics, recommended resources, book excerpts, and much more.
Most weeks will have a theme that ties the content together as well. I pray you find these helpful and that they enhance your teaching and preaching in the local church.
This week’s research is based on my pastoral history and that of many others. I want to challenge you as you prepare your lesson or sermon this week to remember who your audience will likely be. We know attendance at many, if not all, churches will be above average, but what we often fail to remember is that the people new to the pew on Easter are typically dechurched, not unchurched.
The vast majority of your visitors will have grown up in church and likely claim to be Christian. You can think of Easter as more of a "religious reunion." Christmas services and Christmas Eve services tend to be filled with more unchurched attendees who have yet to hear a clear Gospel message. Easter attendees typically know the story, they just might not be living it out in their daily lives. Often times, they know the "what," they are just missing the "why."
This Friday night, David Platt will be hosting the 12th Secret Church event at the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL. LifeWay has partered to provide live video streaming of the event to churches around the globe. There’s still time for you to be a part of Secret Church. Also, all previous Secret Church events and resources are archived and available for free at Radical.net. Previous topics include two Easter-themes:
"When Jesus was crucified," [J.P.] Moreland told me, "his followers were so discouraged and depressed. So they dispersed. The Jesus movement was all but stopped in its tracks. Then, after a short period of time we see them abandoning their occupations, regathering, and committing themselves to spreading a very specific message—that Jesus Christ was the Messiah of God who died on a cross, returned to life, and was seen alive by them.
"And they were willing to spend the rest of their lives proclaiming this, without any payoff from a human point of view. They faced a life of hardship. They often went without food, slept exposed to the elements, were ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned. And finally, most of them were executed in torturous ways. For what? For good intentions? No, because they were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had seen Jesus Christ alive from the dead."
Yes, people will die for their religious convictions if they sincerely believe they are true. Religious fanatics have done that throughout history. While they may strongly believe in the tenets of their religion, however, they don’t know for a fact whether their faith is based on the truth. They simply cannot know for sure. They can only believe.
In stark contrast, the disciples were in the unique position to know for a fact whether Jesus had returned from the dead. They saw him, they touched him, the ate with him. They knew he wasn’t a hallucination or a legend. And knowing the truth, they were willing to die for him.
In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement
Mark Dever & J.I. Packer
An important anthology that reaffirms the classic doctrine of substitutionary atonement and counters the ongoing attacks against it.
If ever there was a time and a need for an enthusiastic reaffirmation of the biblical doctrine of substitutionary atonement, it is now. With this foundational tenet under widespread attack, J. I. Packer and Mark Dever’s anthology plays an important role, issuing a clarion call to readers to stand firm in the truth.
In My Place Condemned He Stood combines three classic articles by Packer-"The Heart of the Gospel"; his Tyndale Biblical Theology Lecture, "What Did the Cross Achieve"; and his introductory essay to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ-with Dever’s recent article, "Nothing but the Blood."
Last words are always important. The cross is widely misunderstood in the present day; many in the world are deeply offended by its powerful truth.
Erwin Lutzer, pastor of the Moody Church, gently leads readers on a journey into the heart of Christ to help them grasp what Christ Himself wants us to know. Jesus was not silent on the cross. Come turn your attention to His cries and be utterly changed
Matt is providing audio versions of this song as well as the chord chart for free through Good Friday on his website – MattPapa.com