Reflecting on a Few Takeaways from the Preaching Rocket Conference

The other week a handful of staff members attended the Preaching Rocket Conference. It was to promote their online membership program to help pastors preach better sermons. From what I saw, it was pretty good. I came late, multi-tasked while it was streaming and drank coffee, which was basically my seminary experience as well.

Honestly, I think it was helpful and it was cool to watch it with fellow staff. Being on a larger staff, I am receiving some really helpful encouragement and critiques. I mean that, they’ve been helpful and I hope I can be for them as well. So this came at a great time for us.  There were a couple moments when we paused the stream and debriefed with each other. Hope we have more of these opportunities.

I know some around the Twitterverse were bothered by the commercials in it (Come on pastors, you act like you never took an offering before – it’s a FREE online conference promoting a service). That said, I am not a member and at $99/month, I don’t preach enough for this to be good stewardship. If you are a weekly preacher and even if you’re really good, you should still consider it. There looked to be some great communicators there.

My biggest complaint is that it looked to me that all the presenters were from the South and I suspect that was to keep production costs as low as possible. That’s cool, I respect that but that would probably be another reason or me not to subscribe (As a Northeasterner, it would be helpful to hear from some pastors up here.  Btw, without the last name Keller.  We truly love him, now let’s find some more).  (Oh and I get that we all like Chick-Fil-A but the moment with Dan Cathy came across as odd to me. Either we are obsessed with chicken or the Cathy’s own all the churches in the south but I think it’s safe to say that we’ve jumped the shark, the cow here).

Anyway, great conference, here were a couple takeaways for me:

Andy Stanley. Can I make a confession when it comes to Andy? I never get excited when I see his name on something but I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard him say something and thought to myself, “Yeah that’s really good.” He’s like that band Train, they’ve been around a while, I never get excited about them but I like their songs when I hear them on the radio. I don’t hate on Andy or Northpoint, I know they’re doing good things but I realized I don’t give him any credit either.

I liked what Andy Stanley said about being careful about not just being interesting but having a point (a theme consistent with my blogging and sermonizing). I still like the idea of having one central point and having strong supporting themes running in and out (my last sermon may have allowed a supporting theme to overpower the central point) so when he said that I thought, “That’s helpful Andy – thanks.”

Still not sure about his comment on any time you’re nervous, you’re making it about you. I’ve thought about that for a good bit afterwards. That feels like a comment that you make when you’ve been preaching in front of thousands of people for the last 20 years and you’re considered an expert in your field. Yeah, maybe for that guy, nerves feel a little different than for others. I’m not suggesting that it’s better to live in fear, panic or anxiety, but I have found nervousness to be an excellent reminder for the need of prayer and to respect what it is that we do. But I’ll keep thinking about it.

I also appreciated what Judd Wilhite and Andy said about preaching to the broken and you’ll always have an audience. We would expect the preacher’s words to always offer people hope and encouragement (even conviction, should the Spirit allow). So long as this does not become formulaic and manipulative, we should not lose sight of this. Broken people are entering our sanctuaries each week, broken people are entering the pulpit as well – praise God.

It’s possible that I’ll forget much of this but I think I’ll remember the moment with Charles Stanley when he was moved to tears in talking about the impact that we as preachers have on the church. It was very powerful and sobering. He would go on and talk about the need for prayer which had been mentioned by an earlier speaker but I think many of us viewers didn’t hear it as a redundant and I imagine we all felt the Spirit’s reminder of that. Appreciated how he described the burden a preacher ought to have for the message. I think the most noticeable aspect of preaching for me these last few years is that I really believe in what I’m saying.

I think I’m always going to be homiletically improper (I did well in homiletics but I always got an asterisk with my grades too – I know many can relate ;). In an honest moment, I may admit that I want it that way but in an even more honest moment I may attempt to politely suggest that maybe the experts don’t have it completely right either – and them being people of humility would likely say the same. I was grateful that they shared their words and experience with us and grateful for the calling that we’ve received to serve in the Kingdom. To God be the glory.

Check out their site, check out their 1 month trial for $1 and subscribe if it works for you. Also you can follow the founder of PR Casey Graham on Twitter @CaseyGraham. I have not been contacted by Preaching Rocket, I’m just linking out of appreciation for providing the event.