Archives For preaching

Over the last 16 years in ministry, I have served under the leadership of some wonderful elders. They have done so many things to encourage and shepherd me. Sadly, some preachers get little to no encouragement from the elders under whom they serve. So I thought it might be helpful to share some of the things my elders have done for me over the years, in hopes that other elders would do the same for their preachers.

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“You’re the best preacher I’ve ever heard!” What preacher wouldn’t want to hear those words? One preacher who doesn’t want to hear those words is the home preacher who overhears a member saying that to a visiting preacher (or vice versa). But as harmful as those words could be to the one who overhears them, they can be even more harmful to the one being complimented. Here are a few thoughts on why we need to change the way we think (and talk) about preaching.

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In this episode of the CrossTalk podcast, Sam Dominguez and Wes McAdams discuss how they feel when they’ve done poorly teaching and preaching God’s word. Why do we feel bad when we’ve preached and taught poorly? What can help us cope with these feelings while at the same time striving to preach and teach better? This discussion will helpful for anyone who teaches or preaches, but also all Christians.

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For over a decade, I’ve been involved in full-time ministry. If I had chosen another profession, I suspect I might feel pretty competent by this time. But to be honest, more often than not, I still feel like I’m in way over my head.

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Keeping the Message Relevant

Wes  —  February 12, 2013

As it pertains to Christianity, and specifically preaching, a term I hear more and more is, “relevant.” I am constantly hearing, “Congregations need to keep their preaching and teaching relevant, if they want to grow.” I certainly don’t disagree with that sentiment. Obviously, the opposite of relevant would be irrelevant; I don’t think we need irrelevant sermons and lessons. So, should we endeavor and strive for greater relevance in a hope to retain and gain people in our pews?

Mirriam-Webster defines Relevant as, “having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand.” Certainly, that should define the message we preach; it should always have bearing on the matter at hand.

But, isn’t the message we are supposed to be preaching the gospel? The gospel of Jesus Christ was relevant in the First Century and is just as relevant in the Twenty-First Century. We must understand it is not the job of Christians to make the gospel relevant, but to help the world see the relevancy of the gospel!

That will always be a struggle. The Christians of Paul’s day struggled to help the world see the relevancy of the gospel, just as we struggle to help them see it today. Paul said the wise men, the scribes, and the debaters of his age considered “the word of the cross” to be foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18-20). In other words, they saw the message and the messengers as being completely (and laughably) irrelevant. Yet, Paul did not change the message to suit the people. He didn’t try to make the message hip, cool, or wise. He simply preached the gospel,

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:21-25).

The worldly minded will always see the message of the cross as foolish and will always see Christians as fools! When we try to make ourselves seem wise, cool, hip, and eloquent – we miss the whole point! Paul said that he was not sent to preach the gospel “with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians 1:17). In other words, when the messenger becomes what’s relevant, the message becomes irrelevant.

In an effort to be relevant, many have changed the message and are now preaching a completely irrelevant message. They are eloquent, they are cool, they are popular, and they have essentially “emptied [the cross of Christ] of its power.” They have crafted and customized a palatable and relevant message for the people, instead of helping the people to change their perspective and understand the timeless relevancy of the gospel.

The Bible is being treated, by many, as a practical self-help guide to life. The Bible, to many, is simply a guide to what they need to do to have God make them more happy. After all, that’s the relevant message people want to hear. In their theology, it seems God exists to bring happiness to man, rather than man existing to bring glory to God. This self-centered theology may be socially relevant, but is eternally irrelevant.

We could spend our time trying to make people think we’re funny, witty, cool, and up-to-date with all the latest technology. We could make people believe the message is all about them and their happiness. Or, we could spend our time showing people the spiritual transformation which can happen in their lives through the power of the gospel. Let us preach Christ and say to the world, “Put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).

May we never become a people who are socially relevant and eternally irrelevant! Instead, let us do whatever we must to show the world the eternal relevancy of the cross!

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams

This Preacher’s Weekly Routine

Wes  —  January 29, 2013

I get asked a lot, “What does a preacher do all week?” Most Christians only see the preacher a couple of times a week, and they’re understandably curious, “What does he do when the pews are empty?” Well, my schedule may be different from other preachers, but this will give you a pretty good idea of what a “typical” week is like.

Sunday may seem pretty obvious to the average church member, “The preacher works for about 30 minutes that morning and 30 minutes that evening. What’s the big deal?” Well, if you have never stood in the pulpit and proclaimed the word of God, I can honestly understand how it may look like one of the easiest jobs in the world. However, most Christians will never understand the mental and physical exhaustion of preaching your heart out for half-an-hour.

And that’s okay. You don’t have to understand it. Most preachers don’t expect you to understand how tiring it is to preach. We probably don’t understand how exhausting it is to do your job. But, just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean you can’t respect the hard work that goes into it.

For me, most Sundays consist of teaching a Bible Class and delivering two sermons. Often, I spend lunch with members; which isn’t necessarily work, but it can be tiring after a long morning. During the afternoon, there may be meetings to attend, Bible studies to conduct, hospital visits to make, and there is always another sermon to look over.

After delivering Sunday evening’s sermon, I usually feel like I’ve run a marathon. It is an exhilarating and exhausting feeling. I wouldn’t trade that feeling for the world. My mind is usually racing, as I crash at the end of the day. I question, “Did I say what I should have said? Did I say it the way I should have said it? Did I please God or disappoint Him today?” I’m tired and wound up, at the same time.

And then, Monday morning arrives.

Most weekday mornings start out pretty similar. Of late, I’ve been getting up at 5:30 every morning. I eat breakfast, get ready, and head to the gym about 6:30. I workout until 7:45 and get to the office between 8:15 and 8:30.

On Mondays, I try to get the previous day’s sermons online as quickly as possible. Then, I have a couple of e-mails I send each Monday reminding the staff about our weekly meeting and to the newspaper, with a synopsis of the upcoming Sunday morning sermon. I spend some time answering any e-mails or messages I may have.

The majority of Monday is spent preparing the next Sunday morning’s sermon. Many people ask, “How long does it take you to write a sermon?” I have no answer to that question. Each sermon is different. I have my sermon titles and Scripture texts planned for the next several months, so I know on Monday morning what direction I will be heading. Sometimes I can sit down and write out my entire sermon in two or three hours. Sometimes, it takes the majority of the day. Assuming I have few interruptions on Monday, I usually finish writing one sermon for the upcoming Sunday.

I get home from work around 5:15 and Monday nights are reserved for my family. I have two small boys and a wonderful wife and Mondays are an evening spent with them. We usually get the boys to bed around 8:30 or 9:00 (asleep is a whole other issue). Usually, by 11:00 every night, the McAdams’ house is pretty quiet and we are all asleep (or close to it).

On Tuesday, when I get to the office from the gym, I answer any e-mails which may be waiting for me. Then, I get to work on the Sunday evening sermon and the article for the bulletin. For some reason, Sunday evening sermons seem to get written a little faster than the morning’s sermon (may be I’m loosened up a little). I try to go home for lunch on Tuesdays because I usually do not get to eat supper with my family on those evenings.

Every Tuesday afternoon, the office and ministerial staff gathers for a meeting to discuss any matters that may affect various efforts of the congregation. This meeting usually lasts for about 45 minutes. We have such a great staff here and I’m so thankful for their friendship and to be one of their co-workers for the Lord.

Tuesday evenings are reserved for visitation with the elders. Baker Heights has some of the most phenomenal elders I have ever known and they do their best to visit members in their homes on Tuesday evenings. By the time visitation is done, I’m lucky to get back home around 8:30; just in time to see the boys for a few minutes before they head to bed.

Wednesdays are spent preparing for the evening’s activities. Currently, I am teaching the Young Families class and I spend some of the day preparing my material for that class. Also, on Wednesday evenings, I have a meeting with the elders; for which I spend some time preparing a report to give them.

Because I have an elders meeting at 5:00 and Bible class at 7:00, I do not get home until around 8:30 and don’t get to eat supper with my family. Because of this, I like to go home for lunch on Wednesdays and eat with my family. That way, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I get to eat at least one meal with my crew. On Monday and Thursday, however, I work through lunch, or often I will have a lunch meeting with someone.

Thursdays are my last office day, so they are usually spent playing catch-up on various things. If I didn’t do so earlier in the week, I prepare my Sunday morning Bible class. I print out my sermon notes for Sunday morning and get those ready to go. This is also the day on which everyone in the office helps proof-read the bulletin before final publication. Our bulletin is 8 pages long and is an extremely professional publication. I also try to write a blog post on Thursday, if there is time.

Often there is an evening activity on Thursday nights. Last week, we had a fantastic get-together with our young families group at our house. We had 50 people gather in our living room for a devotional. We ate together and had some great fellowship.

That is the “end” of my work week. Of course, I didn’t really mention the various visits for counseling or Bible Study that will be made  or the various other visits and meetings that will crop up during the week. Someone asked me what a typical week was like and I said, “There’s no such thing.” There are things, in any given week, that are typical. But, there are also things every week that are anything but typical.

Friday and Saturday are my weekend. Often, there are various church-related activities during “my weekend.” But, I consider participation in these as something I do because I’m a member–not because I’m the preacher.

If there is no church activity on Friday night, this is the night my wife and I have our date night. Thankfully, we now live close to grandparents and they babysit so that we can have an evening out. It doesn’t always work out that way, but at least once a month we try to make sure we can spend Friday evening together.

This brings us back to Sunday, and the whole process begins again. I’m sure I left out a couple of things, but hopefully this gives you an idea of some of the things your preacher is up to during the week. Your preacher, just like you, has a demanding job. He often spends time away from his family and has little time for rest and relaxation. He is probably “on call” 24/7. Like you, his job wears him out and often he needs a pat on the back.

As demanding as preaching is, there is no other job I would rather do. I get to help people every day. I get to watch as the Word of God transforms people’s lives and relationships. We don’t preach for the accolades, we certainly don’t preach for the money. We preach because that is what we have been granted the opportunity and talents to do. We preach to glorify God.

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams

A McAdams Family Update

Wes  —  July 30, 2012

I apologize that it has been such a long while since I have been able to post anything; the McAdams family has been very busy. I thought I would take just a moment and let you know about some of the recent developments and changes in our life.

A few weeks ago, while at Mid-South Youth Camp, I received a phone call from an elder of the Baker Heights congregation in Abilene, TX. He informed me they were looking for a preacher and they wanted to know if I would be interested in trying out for the position.

Prior to this phone call, a fire had been growing inside of me to preach full-time again. Furthermore, certain events had been unfolding in such a way that I truly believed God was about to open a big door in our lives. When this phone call came, I knew this was most likely the door God was opening.

So, we went and met the great folks at Baker Heights. We couldn’t have been more impressed by their leadership, their plans for the future, and their Christian hospitality. They seem to be a congregation which loves the Lord, loves the Truth, loves one another, and loves to share the gospel with the world!

When the elders there extended the invitation for us to join them in the work at Baker Heights, we prayerfully considered this opportunity. It was heart-breaking to decide whether or not to leave our church family here in Hot Springs. We love the Airport Road congregation with every fiber of our beings, and we knew we would sorely miss working with them.

In the end, however, it was obvious the opportunity at Baker Heights was from God. So, through our tears, we announced yesterday that we will be joining the Baker Heights family at the beginning of September.

Although I’m sad this part of my life has come to an end, I am so excited to get back in the pulpit on a regular basis. I am excited to be working with such a great congregation. I am excited to team up with such a great staff and eldership.

Please keep us in your prayers as we make this transition. Also, please keep the Airport Road congregation and the Baker Heights congregation in your prayers. I know God has orchestrated this change and He will be glorified in all these things!

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams