Pastor Benjamin Conway, lead pastor of Tree of Life Church and founder of the Tree of Life Network, shows here how to use your imagination to enter fully into God’s dream and your dream for your life. This message is inspiring and challenging and will let you be all you can be!
Planning Your Preaching!
One of the things that I often get asked is “how can I preach better?” or “how can I preach with a better response or better results?” The fact is that preaching the gospel is the power of God – that’s how people get saved, get healed, get transformed. Preaching is one of the single most effective uses of your time as a pastor and leader. It’s that simple. There is a move in some churches today to denigrate preaching and to minimise it’s power – some people are maxing their preach time to 8 minutes. Wow! If you want to be soaked in the Word I believe you should take at least 45 minutes. I preach over an hour nearly every single week because I know it’s the Word of God that lifts and transforms and builds people up.
A lot of people spend a lot of energy and effort into planning the sermon, and absolutely that is correct, but planning a single sermon is great if you are a travelling evangelist, but for pastors you need to be planning more than one week in advance.
Firstly, as the lead pastor of a church, realise that you will always be and always should be in charge of the preaching in your church. I have been to churches (and even pastored one) where the eldership or the deaconate were in charge of the preaching calendar, the rota of speakers. One church I know pastored a council worker to come and “preach” about how awful his wife was for divorcing him. No! The lead pastor of the church is in charge of the preaching. Absolutely, ridiculously in charge of the preaching. No one gets to preach in the pulpit unless you give the say so. It’s that simple. The lead pastor is the shepherd of the flock and is the guardian of the sheep.
I take that approach in Tree of Life Church. If I ask someone to preach, I am more than happy to ask them to preach on whatever I want, I am happy to ask for their notes before they preach. Obviously with guest speakers like Arthur Meintjes who I have heard again and again and trust to bring a complete work message, I give a lot more latitude but to a new preacher within the church, I am ridiculously careful. Why? Because I am accountable before God regarding what is spoken at the church.
All preaching must be brought into the bigger picture of the church. At Tree of Life Church our bigger picture is to “inspire people to dream, to challenge people to live the dream”, so I (Benjamin Conway) have to look at my preaching every week and ask myself – am I inspiring people to dream? Am I challenging people to live the dream? If not, chuck it in the bin as it is not helping the Tree fulfil God’s will.
So, preparation has a massive role to play: not just preparing the message, but preparing it to fit in with the bigger picture. Then there is the theme for the season: what are we doing as a church right now? So at the moment (May 2013) at Tree of Life Church we are hammering home the truth that there is a lot of deception in a lot of the church and that a great deal of this deception is basically obscuring the cross of Christ. So, every sermon preached in May will be about deception and every sermon preaching in June will be about the complete work.
You need a preaching calendar. You need to include important dates (not just Christmas and Easter, but Valentine’s Day, New Years’ Eve and September. When the schools return after summer, lots of people come back to church and you need a powerful series to get them energised for church). You must have a preaching calendar. You must not just get in the pulpit and “allow the Spirit to lead you” – it will lead to the same message week after week and your church will have no direction.
I have already penned our preaching calendar for 2014. Our theme is “Identity” and we have 12 months in which we are going to learn about our identity as reborn human beings. Our summer conference for 2014 is sub-titled “We are Jesus on the earth!” and will be about our identity as the image of God on earth. In August our worship leaders are going to find songs that fit in with our identity. Our leadership conference will be grounded in identity.
Identity inspires people to dream, so the theme of the year fits perfectly with the overall dream of the church. This planning is so important because to fail to plan is to plan to fail: so many charismatics just give us a piece of their mind when preaching – sort of a stream of consciousness from the pulpit. It doesn’t help.
Then when planning the month around the monthly theme, I consider what the Bible says about the monthly theme and then consider what I want the people to know. Good teaching should give information that people don’t have and press people to make a decision they haven’t made before. So, for example, next Sunday morning, I am preaching on how it is deception to believe that you can have a harvest without a seed. The information I am going to give people is show them all the different ways Christians try and get a harvest without a seed, and the decision I want people to make is to sow a seed into the kingdom (not necessarily money, but an action of faith and love). Now I know that, putting the sermon together is much easier.
Not only that there is continuity from week to week. If another person in the church preaches, they get to know the calendar and have to fit in with it.
Any questions about preaching or sermon preparation? Please ask them below, I will answer all of them as best I could.
(Benjamin Conway preaches 3 times nearly every weekend, in Watford, Guildford and Dagenham. Every month over 2000 people download or stream one f his sermons online from their church website, www.treeoflifedagenham.com. These messages are free of charge because God’s Word is free of charge.)
Dave Duell Preaching!
The Naked devil
Angels and Demons – Tree of Life Church London
One of the greatest dangers for the charismatic church at the end of the age is an obsession with the devil – that the church magnifies the devil and minimizes God and His greatness.
In this powerful and Biblical message, Benjamin shares what the devil really is and who we really are and what spiritual warfare really is. This message will deal with some of the charismatic traditions that steal our freedom in Christ and our victory.
Angels and Demons – New Sermon
New Sermon – Angels
In this message Benjamin teaches from the Scripture about what angels are and how humans encounter angels, all the time calling for a balance on this controversial topic and ensuring that we use the Bible as our measuring guide and exalt Jesus above all angels. Benjamin then candidly shares his personal experiences with angels.to encourage and inspire the church of God.
Note: please excuse the background noise in this sermon. Firstly, Pastor Ben’s three year old daughter had just come from a birthday party and was very excitable. Secondly, at one stage some youths outside the hall got into a ruckus and we all ran outside to make sure they were okay!
New Sermon on Faith and Hope!
New message on faith and hope at our church website:
What is the difference between faith and hope? What should I hope for? How can I, in my life, have hope?
This message will answer your questions and inspire you to be a person of vision.
Hebrews 11.1 tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for. In this compelling message Benjamin teaches how to correctly be a person of hope and what every Christian should hope for. Then he explains in practical terms how to take your hopes, expectations and dreams and see them become real in the earth.
Glory and freedom,
Two Powerful Messages On the Holy Spirit
I have just uploaded a message called The Vocal Gifts, which is really about the heartbeat of being a prophetic church and part of my passion for building a prophetic church in the heart of London and Essex.
I have in addition uploaded today’s message called The Holy Spirit On Our Side, which is a powerful key in how to hear God more clearly, silence the devil and minister in the prophetic in a more accurate and powerful manner.
I have just loaded a sermon where I am preaching on the need to be thankful to our church website.
You can access the sermon here.
If you enjoyed the sermon, or even if you didn’t, feel free to put your comments here.
Glory and freedom,
Evangelism, Super Apostles and Mixed-Up Priorities
Evangelism, Super Apostles and Mixed-Up Priorities
J. Lee Grady
After visits from three evangelists in four days, I figured it out. We’ve neglected the heart of our mission. Something amazing happened to me last week during a ministry trip to Texas and Oklahoma. God sent three unexpected visitors over the course of four days to confirm something He is doing in the church today.
Last Thursday when I was speaking at Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, my friend Sujo John called to say he wanted to drop by the campus and attend the conference with me. Sujo is a full-time evangelist who is originally from India. He surrendered to the ministry on Sept. 11, 2001, when he was buried under the rubble of the World Trade Center. “In this turbulent season when our movement is being shaken, refined and redefined, we must return to the simplicity of our mission to reach the lost all around us.”
On that horrific day as Sujo lay under the concrete and twisted metal, he wondered if he would live until nightfall. But that did not stop him from praying with about 20 people who were trapped with him. They all died before Sujo was rescued, but they stepped into eternity with faith in Christ as their Savior because Sujo led them in a sinner’s prayer. After Sujo learned that his wife, Mary, was safe (she also worked in the World Trade Center but was late for work that day), they both left their lucrative careers in the financial industry and gave their lives to full-time evangelism.
Since then Sujo has traveled all over the world sharing his testimony and warning people of the urgency of this hour.
On Friday, the second day of my meetings at Christ for the Nations, I got a text message from Scott Hinkle, a full-time evangelist from Phoenix who happened to be in Dallas. He came to the campus to attend the meeting in the main student auditorium.
Scott grew up in a rough-and-tumble New Jersey neighborhood outside New York City and became a Christian during the Jesus Movement in the 1970s. He has spent most of his adult life taking the gospel to places most Christians avoid. Every year he takes an evangelistic swat team to Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans and wins prostitutes and partygoers to Christ. He is one of the few charismatic ministers in the United States devoted to equipping believers in soul-winning.
After I left Dallas I flew to Oklahoma City to speak at a church in nearby Norman. On Sunday afternoon I got a text message from Kevin Turner, a full-time evangelist who is based near Tulsa. He wanted to come to my meeting at Riverside Church. I was thrilled because I had never met Kevin, even though we’ve talked on the phone many times and Charisma published an article about his unique ministry in 2007.
Kevin directs Strategic World Impact, a ministry that has taken him to some of the most dangerous places on the planet. He was mentored by the late Leonard Ravenhill, the radical revivalist whose writings still inspire many of us today. Kevin carries Ravenhill’s sobering passion for lost souls and has shared the gospel in refugee camps, war zones and killing fields. He can’t talk publicly about most of his work because it would put his colleagues in jeopardy.
It wasn’t until I saw Kevin seated in front of me at Riverside that I realized this might be more than a coincidence. Three full-time evangelists in four days. Was God saying something here? Maybe it was just a fluke. But it caused me to realize how desperate we are in this hour for the ministry of the evangelist—a ministry that we have sidelined and neglected in recent years.
In the 1980s and ‘90s we charismatics emphasized the need for apostles and prophets. I cheered this movement because I believe we should reclaim every spiritual gift in the New Testament that has been avoided or neglected.
We need true apostles and prophets because they keep the church moving forward in our global assignment and provide heavenly direction and strategy. Yet apostles and prophets have been controversial, not only because some people reject them on theological grounds but because some self-proclaimed apostles and hyper-mystical prophets have abused and misused their gifts and authority.
Today some of these people have slipped over the edge of orthodoxy—and have taken segments of the church off the cliff with them. Some have promoted the concept that apostles are spiritual supermen who wield rigid, hierarchical control over churches and leaders, resulting in authoritarianism and abuse. Others have perverted the apostolic model to create a financial “downline” that brings loads of money to a few at the top of the food chain—ignoring the fact that the Bible says apostles should be models of humility who serve from the bottom.
And some prophets have traded in their originally pure message to promote bizarre doctrines and cryptic predictions that often prove to be hokum. Is it possible that while we were celebrating the super apostles and building fan clubs for the prophets we were ignoring the primacy of our evangelistic calling? I know one gift is not more valuable than another. But when I read about the five-fold ministry gifts listed in Ephesians 4:11, I can’t help but notice the placement of the evangelist.
Paul wrote: “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers” (NASB, emphasis added). The evangelist is not more important, and God’s kingdom is not a hierarchy. But evangelism is in the center because it is the very heart of God’s mission. In this turbulent season when our movement is being shaken, refined and redefined, we must return to the simplicity of our mission to reach the lost all around us.
God wants to visit us with fresh evangelistic fire that will burn up our selfishness, refocus our priorities, rid us of quirky doctrinal distractions and ignite our hearts with a holy love for people who don’t know Jesus.
J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.