categories: church, communication, leadership, preaching
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July 23rd, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

You Are An Original

When I started preaching, I tried to be just like my pastor, Nick Harris. The only problem? Nick is brilliant, and I am not.

Later, I copied Rick Warren’s messages, with his blessings. The only problem? I am not Rick Warren.

I wholeheartedly believe that as pastors, we should stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. Learn from them. Leverage their wisdom. Borrow every good idea God leads us to implement.

I also think it’s great that some are now beginning to freely share resources and ideas between each other! We shouldn’t have to re-invent the wheel each week.

But, recognize that not every idea, not every message, not every outline that others create is necessarily what God has called you to preach.

You are an original.

You won’t ever be just like Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Ed Young, Andy Stanley, Bill Hybels, Mark Batterson, Erwin McManus, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Perry Noble, or Steven Furtick.

But if you stop trying to be just like others, you can be as great as God created you to be!

How are you finding your own voice, style and content?

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categories: personal, preaching
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June 12th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

Less Is More

Andy Stanley has said it for years: Less is more. He’s right.

I’m as guilty as anyone I know of cramming too much information into a message. I’m working hard to communicate more by communicating less.

(Some preachers can cover a whole 4-week series in one message!)

Not only do too many preachers attempt to communicate too much content, but many take too much time to do it.

Why take 45 minutes to communicate 30 minutes worth of content?
Why take 35 minutes to communicate 25 minutes worth of content?

There are a few preachers who can hold a crowd for an hour, but not many. (Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, Steven Furtick, and Matt Chandler seem to do it well. Most don’t.)

Many who preach an hour (or more) could say the same thing in 45 minutes. I’d argue they would probably be even better.

I’m not saying we should shortchange the amount of time we devote to preaching, but I do think most communicators would be more effective if they shaved some fluff from their messages.

As communicators, we can become emotionally attached to information others simply don’t care about. Find those areas and cut them.

In the past year, I’ve shaved about 8% off the time of most messages. I have done so without sacrificing the quality of biblical content. Hopefully my focus has made it better.

Less is more.

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categories: personal, preaching
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June 11th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

God’s Opinion Matters Most

For years after preaching, I always felt vulnerable. When I greet people after a sermon in the lobby, if no one says, “Good sermon, Pastor,” I think I must have bombed.

When I would walk in the door after church and see Amy, I was always hungry for her approval. Did you like it? Did I do a good job?

Although it will always be somewhat important to know if you are connecting with people, I am growing to care less about their opinions.

I am no longer spending as much time asking, “What will bring people to church?” Instead I’m asking, “What will bring glory to God?”

I won’t lie and say that people’s opinions don’t matter to me at all anymore. But I can tell you truthfully, that more than ever, God’s opinion matters most.

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categories: personal, preaching
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June 10th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

Trust The Story

Great communicators are generally great storytellers! Jesus may have been the greatest storyteller who ever lived.

My preaching mentor always reminded me, “People remember stories.”

Over the years, I have spent enormous amounts of time searching for stories and developing personal ones.

I will always use and value stories, but I am growing to trust more in The Story than in personal or second-hand stories.

As a preacher, you might put a little less faith in your cute, funny, or even powerful stories and more faith in the power of The Story found through God’s word!

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categories: creativity, technology
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June 9th, 2008

by Bobby Gruenewald

At the Movies Promo Video

Each summer, we do a series called At the Movies. This series probably has the biggest “invite your friends” factor and every year, we are excited to see more people come to Christ.

Our media design team has been working really hard as they develop some amazing promo videos. Here’s one…If you dig it…you can Digg it here.

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categories: personal, preaching
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June 9th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

My Personal Preaching Journey

Prayerfully, every biblical communicator will grow in knowledge, understanding and effectiveness. This week I’ll share some of what God is teaching me about preaching.

Work Less, Pray More

It started one Monday morning when I was sitting at my desk, attempting to study, while fighting back the tears. Nothing was wrong. In fact, everything was great. My marriage was thriving. My kids were healthy. The church was strong.

But I was weak, empty, desperate, and afraid.

Those of you with the gift of teaching usually enjoy study time. Teaching is one of my lower gifts. For me, studying is grueling and exhausting work. The pressure I feel to deliver high quality messages at times feels overwhelming.

I kept thinking… I can’t keep this up. I don’t have anything left. I don’t feel funny. I don’t feel interesting. I don’t want to preach. I can’t do this for the rest of my life.

Though the tears and fear, I was still very aware that the weekend was coming quickly. And then another would come… and another… and another… and that scared me to death.

Unable to study, I simply prayed… and prayed… and prayed. I truly believe that God showed me that I was “overworking” the messages. By faith that week, I cut my preparation time in half and devoted more time to prayer.

That weekend, I preached a message that was not as creative, not as funny, and not as entertaining, but it was FULL of spiritual passion.

On my preaching journey, I am fully convinced that God wants me to pray more and work less.

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categories: one prayer
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May 31st, 2008

by Bobby Gruenewald

One Prayer Download Stats

Churches from all over the world have been reviewing and downloading One Prayer messages for the last week.  There is one week left before the series officially starts globally and I strongly encourage those of you participating to review and download the messages you are going to use now.

Some of you have asked if I have any statistics/technical details about the downloads…here are some quick stats for those of you technically inclined.

  • Over 7000 One Prayer files have been downloaded in the last week.
  • Over 5.2 TB (terabytes) have been downloaded in the last week
  • The peak data transfer was 368 Mb/s (megabits per second) on Tuesday May 27th
  • There are 432 GB (gigabytes) of One Prayer messages stored on our servers
  • We have two servers hosted in Dallas, TX that are handling One Prayer traffic.
  • All of the flash video previews are not included in those stats.

If you have no idea what any of that means…it means there are a whole lot people reviewing and downloading One Prayer messages :)  It’s still not too late to join.

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categories: creativity, personal, recommendations, spiritual development
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May 20th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

Disrupt The View

For the past five years I’ve prepared sermons in the same place.

  • My office at church looks exactly the same as it did five years ago.
  • My view out the window hasn’t changed.
  • The people outside my door are, for the most part, the same people.

Although I find comfort in what is known, it is also easy to get in a rut.

I suggest disrupting the view.

  • If you’re a pastor, pray or study in a new place.
  • Counsel someone outside on a pretty day.
  • Drive 30 minutes out of town and spend a half day reading in a different spot.
  • When possible, get out of town for a few days and do the same work in another place.

I am writing this post from the Newark airport after 24 hours in Manhattan. Even though I had little time for prayer and study, God worked in my heart in a big way—simply by disrupting the view. Talking to tons of people and seeing the thousands of people who don’t care much at all about Christ made my heart bigger for people.

What can you do this week to disrupt your view?

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