Preaching

by Tim Isbell

I developed and preached about 900 unique sermons over 18 years. Approximately half of these, mostly preached in the last 10 years of my preaching ministry, are based on the scriptures from the Revised Common Lectionary. The other half are topical, seasonal, or based on various biblical books. 

From 2010 through 2013 I have polished one or two sermons for each Sunday of the entire 3-year lectionary cycle, and posted them on this site. Year A sermons were in the form of downloadable Microsoft Word files, and some of them still are. But I am in the process of upgrading this entire year to Google Docs. Year B and C sermons are in Google Docs, which are also downloadable into Microsoft Word.

Here's a synopsis of what is in this Preaching Resource section of the website:

Sermon Storehouse

Sermon Chart

This single webpage is the central listing of all posted sermons, and all in one chart! By default it sorts on the first column, conveniently laying out all the weeks in sequence. But you can easily also sort the chart by any column, making it easy to gather all sermons in the order of biblical books, or the series name. Just click on the link to jump to the Sermon Collection page for a given lectionary season or sermon series. Or click on the Title link to go to the notes for that sermon. In those notes you will find other relevant links for preaching the sermon. And you can download all of this information into various formats - all for free.

Sermon Collections

This section of the site organizes all the sermons into folders, by both lectionary season and sermon series. Each folder is a Subpage of the Sermon Collections page. So using this part of the website you can quickly jump to all the sermons in, for example, Year B, Lent (or any other lectionary season). And this same part of the website allows you to quickly jump to the page describing any particular sermon series on the site, such as The 10 Big Ideas of Christian faith (or many others).

Sermon Series

This webpage is another view of the sermon series section of Sermon Collections. So if you just want to browse quick synopses of all my posted series, this is a shortcut. 

Once or twice a year I developed a Sermon Series. Sometimes I preached these on successive weeks, and other times I distributed them over longer periods. The shortest series has only 2 sermons; the longest has 10. At least some of the sermons in most series connect to the lectionary calendar. So these all facilitate the lectionary preacher who wants to leverage off the lectionary to do a series, without totally abandoning the connection. For another look at the connections between sermon series and lectionary weeks, look at the Sermon Chart.  

Benedictions

Thanks to some NorCal Nazarene pastors, here's a list of popular benedictions.

Audio Recording downloads

Most of my messages from October 16, 2005 through May 23, 2010 at New Life Nazarene Church were recorded. These recordings are available for free download as an MP3 file or for streaming.  For more on the details of downloading or streaming click the link.   

Subscribe to posts & updates at IsbellOnline News

To learn about and subscribe to RSS or email notifications of new sermon material coming onto this site just go to IsbellOnline News.


Preaching Strategies

Preaching Crib Notes

As a local church pastor for 18 years I wanted to make sure I used a broad range of preaching techniques in order to communicate to the broad range of parishioners and visitors. And I also wanted to hold the attention of regulars. So I compiled a file of Crib Notes to keep me from falling into the preachers'  rut of always preaching in the same style/format. Then, every week I'd read a small section of these Crib Notes, which God used to keep me out of a preaching rut. These Preaching Crib Notes web page is that file.  I think you will find help in it.

Lectionary Basics

This is a tutorial about the lectionary. I placed this in the Biblical Resources section of the website because it is useful for parishioners and Bible students, as well as preaching pastors.

Lectionary Preaching

I wrote this resource especially for preaching pastors. It explains the advantages of preaching the lectionary calendar, and all you need to know to give it a try.  

Interactive Preaching

Preaching is almost always uni-directional: the preacher prays and prepares and then delivers what he/she believes God wants to say to this particular gathering.  But occasionally it's good to preach interactively.  Click the link to learn more.


Other Worship Elements

Prayer Time Teachable Moments

For some parishioners the worship prayer time is the only time in the week when they quiet their hearts and pray. Others pray throughout the week, but are stuck in a dry routine of delivering lists to God. So why not use the pastoral prayer time to model and teach people to pray in ways that enrich their prayer lives throughout the week? 

I'm not suggesting that we package a mini-sermon every week on prayer into the worship flow. But we can use a two or three minutes before we lead the congregation in prayer to set the stage for something we are about to model and invite the people into. To do this we must spend half an hour each week in preparation, most of it in quiet, reflective prayer asking God for direction. When I take time to do this, God always directs and it invariably leads to a rich congregational prayer time. And  I'm sure God looks forward to these prayer times with his people, too.

For ideas on how to do this, click on the link to Prayer Time Teachable Moments.


Worship Design

Thoughts from Nancy Beach in An Hour on Sunday (Zondervan):

“Aim to make Sunday worship the best hour of the believer’s and investigator’s week.” Nancy Beach.

Leaders' part in worship: select and craft great material, design the best flow possible, point people to God, and make room for attenders to respond to what they experience.

Design worship so transcendent moments can happen; then let them happen. God does more in a 2-minute “divine moment” than we can do in 6 months.

The primary reason real Christians come to church is not to get something out of it, or to enjoy the fellowship, or to watch a good program. The primary reason is to gather with others each Sabbath to concretely give our worship and praise to God.

A key physical manifestation of worship is the praise of his people, for he promises to inhabit these. One way we praise God is in song – not listening to songs but singing them. Some other ways to worship God are to kneel before him, give tithes and offerings to his church, and witness to others about what God has done in our lives. These are the ways we actually worship God, as opposed to just being spectators of the worship of others.


Advent Readings

The Advent Season begins each Christian year and is the 4 Sundays leading up to Christmas. Every fall worship leaders and pastors start searching for new Advent Readings to use. Follow the link to 4 original sets of Advent Readings that you can use. Each one has a reading for the 4 Sundays, and a 5th reading designed for Christmas Eve (or Christmas morning, if you have a service then).  We used all of  these over various years at New Life Nazarene Church.

A note about Attribution

If you choose to use any of my material in your sermons, including entire sermons, you do not need to credit the material to me. Just make it your own.

For 18 years I felt the pressure to preach a fresh sermon every Sunday. It was a bit of a matter of pride (probably not healthy) that I never repeated a sermon.

The only way I could stay fresh was stay in the scripture myself, read good writers, pray a lot, and take a look at what others are preaching (especially on texts that I know I need to preach anyway). So I constantly listened to sermons as I drove around, or I read them in text form. Sometimes I started out thinking I could almost just preach that sermon, but it NEVER worked out that way. By the time I preached it, it was revised to the extent that even the original preacher may not have recognized it. Other times I used some of their framework (outline, in deductive sermons), but seldom all of even that. Occasionally I used an illustration that I picked up in this process, but the best sermons usually have personal illustrations - so I used a lot of those. Still, a preaching pastor's illustration often triggered something in my own history that I used quite effectively. And there's always Preaching Today, a well-indexed source for good illustrations. I needed about 15-18 hours of sermon development each week in order to effectively preach a 30 minute sermon each Sunday. Not all these hours were for the upcoming Sunday, but always well more than half.

Very often God used other peoples' sermons to help me understand a theological concept that I would otherwise miss. These were often very important insights for our parishioners. These theological insights are the most valuable things I got from experiencing other peoples' sermons.

Since leaving my role as senior pastor at New Life I've had a chance to visit several other churches. I am encouraged by the quality of sermons I've heard. I often go home thinking, "Why am I posting sermon material online? These preachers are preaching better sermons than I can post, anyway." Then the Lord whispers in my ear, "Just keep posting."

So... I just keep posting.

Use whatever you find on my site that works in your situation, without any concerns about attribution.  I know that by the time you stand in front of your congregation you will have made it your own.  

Blessings,
Tim