How do we Preach about Loving God?

Love with all heart picAs Pastors we know that Jesus teaches us to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength (Matthew 22:37; Luke 10:27). But when we attempt to teach this love for God to others, we run into obstacles as ministry leaders. Why is this and what can we do? Continue reading “How do we Preach about Loving God?”


Pastoring Ministry Volunteers, Part 3



A selfie culture can radically mis-shape the way American Christians think about using their gifts and volunteering in local churches.

Let’s look at three selfie influences that damage volunteer teams and ministries.  Continue reading “Pastoring Ministry Volunteers, Part 3”

The Decision-Making Triangle

bermuda triangleWhen I was a boy, the dangerous mystery surrounding the Bermuda Triangle captured my attention. Sometimes a plane or boat would enter the Triangle only to barely and frightfully get through or to disappear altogether. The riddle of the Triangle remains illusive.

As a Pastor, (and a parent) I’ve become painfully aware of what we might call “The Decision Making Triangle.”  Many of our decision-making journeys have ended with just as many riddles. Is there a map that can help us?  Continue reading “The Decision-Making Triangle”

Searching for Greatness in Ministry

Zack Preaching Spurgeon Fellowship 2016
Zack speaking to Pastors and Ministry leaders in Portland Oregon, March 2016.

This two-part audio series “Searching for Greatness in Ministry,” is taken from Zack’s recent visit with pastors and ministry leaders who participate in the Spurgeon Fellowship in Portland, Oregon.  Out of his daily life in local pastoral ministry, Zack seeks to encourage us in our common vocation in Jesus.

Part 1: What do you want Jesus to do for you?  (begins at the 40 minute 20 second mark)

Part 2: What is the greatest thing you can do in ministry?

Pastoring Ministry Volunteers, Part 2


I want it now! Image

In part one, we talked about how volunteers come with a story. This story shapes their expectations more than they realize. To pastor volunteers begins with managing expectations and helping future volunteers see the beauty as well as the difficulties they may unwittingly bring to a team.

Our next step is to clearly name how the consumer inside each one of us can damage our view regarding how to use our gifts and why we use them. Let’s take a look.  Continue reading “Pastoring Ministry Volunteers, Part 2”

Pastoring Ministry Volunteers, Part 1

Tim Burton Santa Teddy Bear Pic


Unwisely, Santa offered a teddy bear to James, unaware that he had been mauled by a grizzly earlier that year.

Receive an email titled, “concerned” or an invitation for dinner in order “to talk,” and a seasoned pastor can suddenly resemble little James in the cartoon above. So it is when someone risks making an appointment with the pastor, risks joining a small group, risks seeking a role to play as a volunteer.

Good words in themselves such as “pastor,” “committee,” “mission,” or “service for God” can dishevel us. A friend or teammate meant something good. We see ghosts instead because of past experiences.
Continue reading “Pastoring Ministry Volunteers, Part 1”

Sermon Disconnect: Six Questions to Assess Your Preaching

Reading  glasses on bible textSometimes our preaching doesn’t connect with our hearers. Before we conclude that we are not called to this particular place, we want to remember that whether as a Rookie, who preaches for the first time at our first church or  as a seasoned veteran starting again at our third church, every congregation has its own culture, its own storyline with God and  its own providences and people prior to our arrival. Here are six markers to help you assess the obstacles that might exist between your sermons and the culture of your congregation. Continue reading “Sermon Disconnect: Six Questions to Assess Your Preaching”

Long-Sustained Usefulness in Ministry: The Story of William Jay

514369Immediacy offered William Jay a chance to do something large and notable as a gospel preacher. A great door for the gospel lay before him wide and open. A fan base for urban ministry waited eagerly for his sermons to take London by storm. Taking up this post, Jay would have served as a right hand man with one of the preeminent pastors of the moment. He also would have labored within proximity to other renowned pastors of reputation at the time. How could anyone say “no” to such a future? And yet, “no” is exactly what William Jay said.  He turned the offer down and chose instead to start his pastoral ministry in a small, obscure and impoverished pastoral call in the country. Why did he do this? What was the result? What can we learn?

Why did he choose to start small?

First, because his older pastoral friend and mentor, Cornelius Winter advised him to. Jay listened to his mentor’s counsel, even though at the time, he did not foresee all of the reasons why.

Second, because Jay thought that his experience did not yet match his gifts. Because he was so young, it would prove wise for him to “secure more preparation for the office” of a pastor.

What was the result?

After three years of pastoral work, Jay received a call to a church in which he would serve for the next sixty-two years. “In terms of long-sustained usefulness” Jay’s ministry at Argyle Chapel, “can scarcely have a parallel in English Church history.” He likewise became anyway, “one of the best known preachers in England” for over half a century.

Looking back, William Jay said that if he had chosen to respond to the London call when he was nineteen, it would have been a “wrong step.” For truly his mentor  (whom he deemed a “friend and father”) had foreseen things clearly.

What can we think about from this?

  • Saying “yes” to a wonderful opportunity to do something large, notable and immediately, requires, not just one set of skills, but two. The “before you get there” skills and the “after you get there” skills. The “before you get there” skill set, allows one to imagine a future, dream, assess, and make a move. The “after you get there” skill set is what one requires in order to stay in the new place once you arrive. It is one thing to dream of a thriving urban ministry just down the street from the likes of John Newton as it would have been for Jay. It is another thing to actually do the work day after day for those people and also as a young man apprenticed to the authoritative direction, personality and fame of a Mr. Rowland Hill, whom Jay would have served under. Possessing the gifts to get us someplace does not mean that we have the experience, seasoning, temperament or savvy to keep us there. We need wise counsel to assess both.
  • Saying “no” to a wonderful opportunity does not mean that our lives and ministries are over or that we missed out. A different kind of ministry, which Jay could not at the time imagine, was on God’s heart for him. We do not experience William Jay’s story today as one of the greatest preachers in church history (even though those who heard him then may have felt the worth of such a statement in their own way). To most of us his story remains unknown. What those who do know William Jay remember is this: a body of pastoral work–a long sustained usefulness of weekly preaching, occasional writing and daily pastoral care in a local place; A legacy that stands out in time even today.

Charles Spurgeon said: “O for more Jays. We would give some two or three dozen of the general run of doctors of divinity for one such a Master in Israel as William Jay of Bath.”

(See The Autobiography of William Jay, pages 52, 130, 348. See also, “William Jay the Preacher” in The Banner of Truth Magazine)

Does a Sermon Really Change Anybody?

Rocks at the coast of Kasmu (captain's village), EstoniaSometimes we may feel there is no point in preaching because we do not see the kinds of changes in our hearers or ourselves that we had hoped for. When this thought tip-toes down the dark hallways of our minds, we are helped to remember that preaching is like farming. We sweat through long days of ploughing and planting only to recline at the end of the day looking out over a barren field. Harvest doesn’t happen in a moment. Harvest happens through a series of necessary moments put together.  Continue reading “Does a Sermon Really Change Anybody?”

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