Since October of last year The Productive Pastor has had great success. It’s all thanks to you. The listener community for this podcast is amazing. I love how many connections have been made and the conversations that have sprung up.
Over the last two weeks I have been producing what was going to be episode 12: The App Episode. I never was able to get an interview scheduled and wasn’t satisfied with other parts of the production. I was getting frustrated with the whole thing.
Life (and Ministry) have also been chaotic. I realized if I wanted to keep up sharing and currating great content I need to take a break. And that was OK. I also need to put some energy behind a project I can really talk about just yet.
Television shows take breaks. They are called seasons.
So let’s consider episodes 1-11 the first season. This episode is here to explain a few things and add to the theological conversation about productivity.
Episode 13 will start season 2. And it will totally rock. With it, I will be rolling out some additional content to the Productive Pastor community. So keep your eyes open. Give me a month or so. (we will absolutely be back up by the middle of May. I promise).
We don’t live in a world which values simplicity. We find tips and tricks to supposedly enhance simplicity, but it usually just adds steps and complications with a false sense of easy.
Jesus teaches an unlikely message of simplicity to his followers in the midst of solitude. While he goes to the wilderness to find calm, he instead teaches about simplicity of belief and faith to thousands.
As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”
But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”
“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.
“Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning[a] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here![b]”
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong[c] wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed. Matthew 14:13-36
If I think of a miracle involving the supernatural multiplication of food, I am really hoping Jesus does something awesome with BBQ ribs. Instead, we get the 1st century equivalent of vienna sausages and crackers. Jesus does amazing things with a simple meal.
Immediately after this miracle he sends his disciples away so he can finish his original mission of prayer and reflection. In the middle of the night Jesus makes His way out to the boat and calls Peter to walk to him on the water (normal..right?). In this interchange Jesus makes a declaration of self which rings across scripture.
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here! (v27).
Echoing God’s identity of “I am who I am” in Exodus 3, Jesus asks the disciples to make a decision based off of what he has revealed to them. The disciples can think of their experiences with Christ and realize how powerful he really is.
The simple things matter because they build our idea of who God is.
When we can’t trust the simple we can never expect the big.
What does it mean for us to clear out a path for Jesus to come to our world? God came to us in the middle of our mess and wants to give us clear direction to Him!
From Series: "Coming Home For Christmas"
Coming Home for Christmas is our conversation theme this Advent at New Song. Since we celebrate a God who comes to our world both fully human and fully divine, God himself came home for Christmas. Another dimension to our reflection and worship during the Christmas season is at the center of Christian belief--that Jesus Christ is coming again and we are looking forward to it. Christ is coming home.
The big thing is us thinking about what does it mean for Jesus to come home, here on our earth for Christmas.
What is a sermon preview? Sermon previews are released on Friday’s. They are to give YOU a short glimpse of what the conversation is going to be like on Sunday morning. On Monday, the preview is updated with some discussion questions, scripture guide and an mp3 of the sermon. I do these for 2 reasons. The first is so God can continue working in your life throughout the week. The second is for you to share this with a friend. I invite and encourage you to share the preview on Facebook/Twitter and through email.
I was privileged to be part of the sermonsmith podcast a few weeks ago. In my interview I mentioned my sermon planning worksheet. I have been getting questions about this sheet, so I decided to tell a little more about it.
To get the free worksheet-just click this image.
Why I use a sermon planning worksheet
I really prefer having a physical document to orient my sermon preparation. I have found beginning a sermon on this sheet and letting it be for a couple of weeks is a great jump start to my weekly preparation. I have used variations of this sheet for years. In seminary, it was really focused on structural relationships and verb forms. A later version had big space for word study. Over the last couple of years it has evolved towards communication. Once I have a good understanding of the most important thing I can communicate, the sheet helps me trim down and not rabbit trail.
I do leave space for some extra things. I file these sheets away and I am hoping one day they will be a resource to someone.
The major thrust of my current version of the sheet reflects a set of questions at the core of Preaching rocket.
1. What is my message about?
2. What is at stake?
3. What do I want you (them) to do?
4. What is my bottomline?
After working weekly with those four questions and examining both my preparation and content/delivery of my sermons I realized a weakness I need to work on. It was actually glaring (to me. I needed to learn to better preach towards response. You would figure me growing up baptist this wouldn’t be hard. My preaching naturally defaults towards teaching so I need to start spending some time working on response. So the worksheet was modified again!
These are now the sections on my sheet. You can download a copy at the bottom of the post and see how I structure them.
1. What is my text/title?
2. What is my message about?
3. What is my big idea?
4. Important words/phrases5. Relationships/Structures
7. How does this change my life?
8. What do I need to do?
You can see the evolution of my preaching in this current sheet. The heavy exegetical stuff is still there, but the newer additions to the sheet keep it focused. Asking the last two questions reminds me of what the most important part of proclamation is. God’s word never leaves us the same.
Should you use my sheet? Well, you can if you want…but I think you could easily come up with something better. What I encourage you to do is begin a process of discovering what helps you plan sermons best. I would love for you to share yours with me.
Over the last few episodes we have been talking about time periods of productivity. We thought about the month, severalpodcasts about the week. It is time to talk about the value of the day. I think this is one of the hardest pieces of productivity to master. It is easy to set big goals…it is harder to move them forward consistently each day (I even used a football reference for the first time in my career in this episode). I have been excited about this episode because I share one of my new favorite productive geek fascinations.
We have three great blog posts for you to check out this episode. They are all important to our conversation.
The Best Times to Write and Get Ideas, According to Science: Kevan Lee
I think one of the secrets of high functioning people is their ability to know when they get things done. To realize certain times of the day seem to be wired for certain activities. What do you do better in the morning, afternoon or evening.
I believe there is a secret to building a personal theology of “the day.” This secret is simple. Know what you absolutly must do each day to move forward. Ministry is interesting because we can spend all of our time just keeping the ball in the air. I think this is a disservice to calling as well as the people we are ministering with.
Casey Graham (founder of The Rocket Company) wrote a really interesting blog post. He shared a secret to an extremely fruitful week in the life of his company.
While our goal in ministry isn’t making money (no matter what people might say), there are some great lessons to be learned in Casey’s blog post. Having a focused point of each day, even if it means devoting a whole day to mundane tasks, lets anyone really do great work when it matters.
I have also become fascinated with day sheets and how they can help us organize each day. I discovered them pretty recently. Here are a few options for day sheets.
Bill Streger Interview A few episodes back I first shared Bill’s Massive Action Plan. It is a fantastic weekly planning sheet. I have a quick conversation with Bill about his church, his productivity strategy and his use of planning sheets.
March marks my one year anniversary being a Rocket Company customer. Early in 2013 I decided to invest in Preaching Rocket coaching. I had a gut feeling it would be worth it. A year out…I would do it all over again in a heart beat. The team at The Rocket Company is amazing and has increased my ministry so much in the last year. I want to share with you just a little of what I have learned in the last 12 months.
This last year has been a gathering season of many different skills. I wrote earlier in the year why I love (and recommend) preaching rocket. I have also benefited from Volunteer Rocket. What I appreciate the most is how I have now been able to apply other skills across the board. Here are just a few
Organizational Clarity in Communication
Many of the largest benefits I have gleaned from The Rocket Company hasn’t come from their products, but the community I stumbled into. My friend Brian Dodd runs an amazing blog. Casey Graham (the founder) consistently inspires me to dream bigger and better. I discovered Carey Nieuwhof through this community. There are other customers (Bobby Williams is a great example) who share their own strategies and helps. These, as well as many others, contributed TONS to my ministry in the last year.
3. The Rocket Company Rewired My Brain (not in a creepy way).
This one has been a game changer. Preaching Rocket showed me the benefits of setting up systems and patterns in my sermon preparation to help me handle busy seasons of ministry. In many ways, The Rocket Company is responsible for The Productive Pastor Podcast. I have transitioned so much of my work flow around pretty basic principals I first learned from them.
4. The Desire to Always Do Better.
I want to be a better pastor every day. Most people in ministry can make this statement. I can tell you I learned practical ways to actually do it. Yes, they almost all best involve a more efficient use of time and a constant quest for vision clarity. I now know my planning matters because it affects my ability to best respond, preach and move forward.
I spent 5 years in seminary. I learned skills I will carry with me for the rest of life. Seminary formed me, taught me to think critically and equipped me. Once I was several years out of seminary, I realized I lacked some practical (and modern) ministry skills which simply can’t be taught in the classroom. I took a leap of faith hoping I might find some resources to help fill those holes in. I wanted top notch coaching and I found it.
The folks over at The Rocket Company are amazing people. Yes, this was a financial investment on my part…but it is worth every cent. I look forward to whatever they do in the future. Go check them out.
Chad Brooks is a United Methodist Pastor serving in Louisiana. Married to Meredith, he is currently starting a new church in northeast Louisiana. Host of the Productive Pastor Podcast and lover of motorcycles, Chad would love to find Bigfoot one day.