November 25, 2012
"When we turn the Bible into an adjective and stick it in front of another loaded word, we tend to ignore or downplay the parts of the Bible that don't quite fit our preferences and presuppositions. In an attempt to simplify, we force the Bible's cacophony of voices into a single tone and turn a complicated, beautiful, and diverse holy text into a list of bullet points we can put in a manifesto or creed. More often than not, we end up more committed to what we want the Bible to say than what it actually says."
~ Rachel Held Evans  Like us on Facebook
Preaching: Narrative and the Senses
Ministry: A Complaint
Reading: What about celebrity converts?
Quotes: "The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never even introduce yourself to, had life not done it for you."
Events & news: Best Practices for Adventist Evangelism
Sherman Cox II By Sherman Cox II

Preachers study the meaning of scripture so that they can convey that meaning to the congregation in the preaching moment. We go to considerable lengths to make sure that we preach the truth and not error. we study the passage within the context of the chapter, book, and even the whole cannon of scripture. In many cases, the preacher derives valid and truthful points from the text and then present those vital truths to the people. This is good, but often when you take the points from the story, you remove the ability of the people to fully experience the truth that you are presenting. Before the people can experience the text, we have to both understand and experience the text ourselves.

But how do you experience the text? You should do a full exegesis as you have done in the past, but I would also suggest that you might allow the five senses of touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste to help you ask questions of the text that you are presenting.

For example, let's look at the woman who grabbed for Jesus' cloak in Luke 8:40-49. After doing your exegesis, now go into the text and look around. What do you feel when exploring, in your minds eye, the text? Do you feel the pushing and the shoving as the crowd almost crushes Jesus? Do you see a frail woman whose loss of blood no doubt made her weak? Do you see the desperation as the woman who has expended all of her money, according to a parallel passage, comes to her last chance? Do you see the mass in front of her, and her pushing through, bobbing and weaving, to get to the Master? Do you feel the people shoving her aside as they try to get to Jesus  themselves? Do you feel the clothing of the Master's garment on the tip of her fingers as she lunges for a touch?

Explicitly thinking about your senses forces you to think about the story. It forces you to realize that this is not just a lesson for us today - and it is that - but it is also a story about a woman struggling for liberation that only comes from a connection to the Master. It is a real story of a real desperate woman and her interaction with Jesus.

Thinking about these kinds of questions might give you a sermon title. Or maybe it could offer aid in organizing your sermon. In any case, you'll recreate an experience with a desperate woman touching the master's garment which will provide a marvelous backdrop for your presentation.

Many preachers exegete the text so that they can intellectually understand the Bible and preach a bible lecture. That is good, but take it a bit further and convey a story that we not only experience intellectually, but also physically and emotionally. Address the whole being by allowing your senses to aid in the exegesis.

Discuss this topic with Sherman on the Best Practices Facebook page.  Like us on Facebook

Sherman Cox II is a Vanderbilt Divinity School graduate who's now an active lay preacher, and member of the Madison Campus SDA church. He writes about preaching at, and blogs at


Loren's picture 4 by Loren Seibold

Here's a complaint that I heard recently: "You didn't talk to Agnes at church on Sabbath, and her feelings are hurt." Every pastor I know has heard some version of it. No matter how thin you're spread on a Sabbath morning, you should have have the ability to spend quality time with everyone.

At one church I had hundreds of members, two services, taught a pastor's class, and had a Spanish church meeting across the street that I'd check on in the spaces between. Even then, someone would report that "You rushed right by me in the lobby without saying anything."

You can point out that there's only one of you, and as hard as you try, you probably can't greet every person. But it usually doesn't help. As with other complaints, if someone wants to find you deficient, they will.

If falls into the same category as "You didn't visit me when I was sick," or "I really wanted to talk to you, but you didn't call me," when they hadn't let anyone know they were sick or needed to talk to you. As sensitive as we try to be to people's needs, we can't know everything.

One of the curious psychological phenomena of ministry is the extent to which people want us to incarnate God's qualities in ourselves. You already know that your children and marriage should be perfect, your faith constant, and your behavior unimpeachable.

But please let me know if you figure out how to be omnipresent and omniscient. They'd come in especially handy.


What do you think? Discuss this with me on the Best Practices Facebook page.
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by Tom Evans

When the Natural Church Development survey was first introduced in 1998, I became one of the first five pastors to utilize the tool in my local congregation in North Dallas.  Since that time, hundreds of Adventist churches have taken the survey!  Those churches that have followed up with implementation, based on the results, have experienced growth in: tithe, offerings, membership, and baptisms (verified by research conducted for DMin dissertation by Rodney Mills). There have been a number of compelling reasons as to why I have heartily embraced Natural Church Development as an evaluation tool for the local church. Read the complete article.


Monte Sahlin is writing again at Faith in Context, after some time away dealing with family health issues. Here's an interesting piece about the future of the economy, and implications for ministry.

Are we talking too much about homosexuality in the church? David Murray thinks we're contributing to making it culturally normal by addressing it too often. Quote: "I've lost count of the number of times Christian adults have talked about homosexuality in front of my little girls. It makes me so angry, because I want them to hear about healthy and beautiful sexual relations, long before being exposed to the most perverse and twisted - and I want them to hear it from me." What do you think?Like us on Facebook

Five phrases that will kill your leadership. Quote: "If you believe the 'called to ministry' phrase, you run the risk of replacing God with ministry and begin worshipping the ministry itself."

You've probably already heard about television star Angus T. Jones and his baptism into a Seventh-day Adventist church and interviews for Voice of Prophecy. Now, in the wake of his rather impolitic (though undoubtedly true) comments about the show he's on, his mother says he's being exploited. Are there dangers in elevating new celebrity Christians and using them to get attention for the message? What do you think?Like us on Facebook

On a related topic. Quote: "Indeed, Christians are often quick to scoop up 'their own' and elevate them simply because they, at one point or another, have expressed belief in God. Case in point: celebs like Gary Busey, Mel Gibson (at least around the time of The Passion of the Christ), Jessica Simpson, Kanye - Christian celebs who often don't lead very Christian lives."

Thoughtful piece by Rachel Held Evans about labeling certain actions or attitudes "biblical." Quote: "The Bible is not a position paper."

Is the over-sexualization of our culture really a search for spiritual intimacy? That's what Shannon Ethridge argues. Quote: "If deep and spiritual intimacy is what humans seek, then relational or sexual intensity can never satisfy our deepest longings or heal our oldest wounds."

How to eliminate boring sermons. Quote: "Let me be blunt: if your life is boring your sermons will be too."

Is a growing church is necessarily a healthy church?

Isn't it amazing how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have almost the status of holidays? Perhaps there's something the church could learn from the retailers, though. Like us on Facebook

Nobody has ever before asked the nuclear family to live all by itself in a box the way we do.  With no relatives, no support, we've put it in an impossible situation.
Margaret Mead

As a child my family's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.
Buddy Hackett

If minutes were kept of a family gathering, they would show that "Members not Present" and "Subjects Discussed" were one and the same.
Robert Brault

Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.
George Burns

All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.
Mitch Albom

Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts.

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.
Oscar Wilde

The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never even introduce yourself to, had life not done it for you. 
Kendall Hailey

Family quarrels have a total bitterness unmatched by others.  Yet it sometimes happens that they also have a kind of tang, a pleasantness beneath the unpleasantness, based on the tacit understanding that this is not for keeps; that any limb you climb out on will still be there later for you to climb back.
Mignon McLaughlin


Day of fasting and prayer for wrongly-imprisoned SDA pastor in Africa


Interactive health program on Hope Channel. Go Healthy...For Good, an interactive health and wellness program with Dr. Nerida McKibben. The program airs Monday through Thursday at 7:00 p.m. ET, and repeats at 10:00 p.m. ET and other times throughout the week. Participate by phone, e-mail, text message, Facebook, Twitter, short video posts.     


The Jewish Discovery book is now an e-book, available for Kindle, Nook, I-book, iPad and Android. Learn more about the Jewish faith, traditions and holidays through this 368-page book written by Jeff Zeremsky, a minister of Florida Conference. More information here.


Did you know that Shawn Boonstra edits Best Practices for Adventist Evangelism, another e-newsletter in the Best Practices family? Read it here, and subscribe.   


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Best Practices for Adventist Ministry is published by NAD Ministerial. Publisher: Ivan Williams;  Managing Editor:  Dave Gemmell. Copyright 2012 North American Division Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists. v(301) 680-6418