by Robert Earl Houston
As an opening disclaimer and to be quite honest, I have been friends with H.B. Charles, Jr. for the past 15 years or so. H.B. (please forgive my informality) was the speaker for the San Diego City-Wide Revival for many years at the church I pastored for the Noon-Day session. We have managed to keep in touch down through the years and I have watched him ascend the crystal stairs of the preaching fraternity from Los Angeles to Jacksonville.
Now, having said all of that . . .
I believe that every preacher, ESPECIALLY YOUNG PREACHERS, should have this book in your library or on your tablet or on your smart phone. H.B. has penned what many of us who have been around could say are “cliff notes” for those who desire to not just preach, but preach effectively.
If you have no desire to excel as a preacher – this is not the book for you.
If you want to grab onto the newest fad in preacherdom – this is not the book for you.
If your desire is to “kill ’em” every Sunday with a whoop and no substance – this is not the book for you.
If you want people to call you “Doc” to your face and laugh at you behind your back – this is not the book for you.
This is a collection of practical, easy to read advice on how to construct a sermon – not the whoop, not the holler – but from the mindset of preaching, utilizing personal theological foundations, to the “why” and “what” a minister should pray before one syllable touches a piece of paper or on a computer screen.
H.B.’s passion for preaching is redundant throughout the book. He’s been preaching since he was a young teenager and he describes this not as a instructional map but as words from one traveler of the art of preaching to another. It is quite clear that H.B. does not want to remain the same in your preaching if it’s below par and he doesn’t want you satisfied if your preaching is above par.
A quote I found interesting:
“Your sermon manuscript will become stronger if you preach it as you write it. Talk it out as you are writing it down. This will help you communicate clearly and effectively. Some words that are easy to write are not easy to pronounce. That long sentence that looks so beautiful on your computer screen may be a nightmare to say or hear. And sometimes you cannot tell that an idea does not make sense until you hear the words come from out of your mouth. But talking your way through the sermon as you write it will aid clarity. Preaching it as you write it also aids memorization.”
It’s classic and practical preaching advice. It’s what the old preachers used to call a “nugget.” Unfortunately we live in a time when we have mega churches but pastors who either refuse or protest in sharing what they’ve learned along the way, especially about the craft of preaching. H.B. Charles, Jr.’s book breaks that paradigm in a refreshing way.
One thing you will learn from this book – the entire Bible is preachable. H.B. encourages you not to get in a rut and offers practical advice for vocal care. Much needed today.
Will this book help you? Yes, if you want it to. I’ll add this caveat – don’t let your ministry have more gators on your shelf than books in your library. Leaders read. Period. An investment is this book is well worth it. Many of us across the country are either implementing or planning to teach this book to our young associates. Pastors – consider doing so. However, all ministers need to get your hands on this book – if you are serious about the craft of preaching.Those who want to drown in shallow preaching waters need not apply.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED.
by Robert Earl Houston
Where art thou? . . . (Genesis )
I’ve been “blogging” off and on for several years. Recently, I discovered a way to combine several of my enterprises, namely “Homegoing of the Saints” which puts a spotlight on those African-American pastors who go home to be with the Lord; the “Vacant Church List” which was the first listing for African-American Baptist pulpits online (and I’ve done it without charge or entry fee for years); and then I’ve put out several notices, etc. and developed a fairly strong following. Since being on WordPress since late last year, I’m approaching 250,000 visits. God be praised.
In recent years other pastors have been regularly blogging – H.B. Charles, Jr. has an excellent blog and leans heavily on preaching themes. Dwight McKissic has an excellent blog as well and he “gets after” Southern Baptist Convention issues and is one of the leading SBC bloggers. Kip Banks, General Secretary of the Progressive National Baptist Convention recently started a blog and there are other brothers out there blogging – but to my knowledge, that number is less than 25. Shaun King’s Shaun in the City is one of those mind-stretching blogs and he is very transparent in his church planting saga.
Where are the Black Pastoral Bloggers?
The purpose of this blog today is to encourage African-American Pastors to blog. Blogging is to participate in a form of social media that is more probative than a 140 word tweet or a quick flash on Facebook. It’s not expensive – there are free sites available and many internet providers are available so you can personalize the site even more with your own name (which I recommend).
The diaspora of African-American pastors should be reflected in the blogosphere. Pastors who are in the rural parts of the nation, I believe, are just as significant in their struggles, triumphs, etc. as those who pastor mega-churches. Those pastors who came before us carried to the grave pieces of wit, wisdom and experience that I know would have been a blessing to this generation. You can participate.
I would love to post and re-post articles that I’ve discovered from those of African-American hue. I think that our experiences are just as real and profound as MacArthur, Stanley, Piper, Stetzer and others. Matter of fact, I ran a search for “best pastor blogs” and maybe 1 or 2 blogs of people of color were even mentioned.
It’s because we have a story to tell that we’re not telling. We have great minds, great talents, great experiences that should and need to be heard.
I’m not a mega pastor. My congregation (on roll) is around 700 members or so. We don’t have one church in multiple locations. We have our issues like everyone else. But blogging for the pastor gives you a discipline in word construction, sentence structure, and analytical thinking that enhances your pulpit presentation. Trust me on that.
Just a word of warning – blog but don’t vent. Never take to the national stage your local church issues. If “Sister Sally” is kicking your tail in business meeting, don’t make her a national issue. If “Brother John” just cussed you out last week, don’t make him a national celebrity. In other words, be careful what you blog about – if it’s murky to you – it may leave room for a church member to misinterpret what you were trying to say.
I will make this promise to you – if you have a blog or know of a blog that will be helpful – I will make a link to it from my site – and if you have one, I hope you will do the same.
One final word – this is not to demean other races – that’s not my purpose. My purpose in this fast-changing African-American led church, is to encourage pastors (not laypersons, not associates) but pastors to share their views.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED
by Robert Earl Houston
What a week it’s been.
This time last week, I was in the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico (ABQ) for their 3rd Annual City-Wide Simultaneous Revival. I’ve been blessed to be a part of this unique fellowship of preachers and churches for the past two consecutive years as the evangelist for my son in the faith’s church, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Rev. Dennis Hubbard, Pastor. Pastor Hubbard was one of my loyal associate ministers at New Hope Friendship Baptist Church and has gone on to be on the widely known pastors in New Mexico. I licensed him 17 years ago.
It’s a unique fellowship sponsored by primarily four churches (other churches support or help in a great way) – Bethlehem Baptist Church, Rev. Hubbard, Pastor; Shiloh Baptist Church, Rev. W.H. Benford, II, Pastor; Antioch Baptist Church, Rev. David Walker, Pastor; and Macedonia Baptist Church, Rev. N.D. Smith, Pastor; The evangelists for the week (respectively) were myself; Pastor Johnny Smith of Arkansas; Pastor Denny D. Davis of Texas; and Pastor Victor L. Wilson of North Carolina.
The Noon Day Service was a joint service held at Shiloh and the line up was Pastor Johnny Smith (Wednesday); Pastor Victor L. Wilson (Thursday); and Pastor Denny D. Davis (Friday). The Revival concluded on Friday with a late-night (10 p.m.) service and I had the honor this year of closing the Revival.
It was a rich, rich fellowship and I’m pleased to have been a part of it for the past two years and looking forward to returning in 2014.
What impressed me most was how these pastors not only work together with each other but how they enjoy the social fellowship. Going out to lunch and dinner was a joy – to hear them share their joys, their sorrows, their struggles and of course, some good natured kidding. It reminded me of fellowships of years gone by in Portland, Oregon and I salute them for their fellowship.
Then it was back home briefly and then on to Lexington, Kentucky (LEX) to share as the Women’s Day at the invitation of Dr. Thomas H. Peoples, Jr. and the Historic Pleasant Green Baptist Church.
Historic Pleasant Green is the fourth oldest African-American church in the nation, having been founded in 1790 under the leadership of their pastor, a slave called Brother Captain. Originally called “African Baptist Church” this church has been the birthplace spiritually of civic leaders, educators, politicians and birthed national leaders, including a Progressive National Baptist Convention President, Congress President, and State presidents and Local moderators. With a congregation of 1,700 plus strong, anchoring a neighborhood which includes the University of Kentucky, Rupp Arena and the Convention Center – HPG has continued to serve generations.
With his wife, Dr. Delma Peoples firmly giving direction as the Minister of Music, the service was literally praying, shouting, rejoicing, and worshipping for three straight hours! I was impressed by the worship – and yes, shed some tears at the poignant places of worship. Such a fervant worship! Such a heartfelt worship! It ranks in the top ten of worship experiences I have known.
You can view the sermon, “Loosed, But Tethered” online and it will be on the local Lexington Cable television station this week.
Dr. Peoples gave me an autographed copy of his book, “History of a Saga” which covers the historical narrative of HPG and I gave he and his wife copies of my book, “See You in the Morning.”
Then it was back to Frankfort (FTT).
On Monday, it was time to return to my pulpit for the Homegoing Celebration of Sis. H. Maxine Parrish, who went home to be with the Lord while I was in Albuquerque.
Sis. H. Maxine Parrish or “Miss Maxine” as many knew her, was a gospel singer who hailed from the loins of First Baptist Church. She loved gospel music, had a large DVD and CD collection, sang with a local community choir, great supporter of FBC’s Vacation Bible School and Sunday School, a community mentor, and the list goes on.
She lived safe and secure in the arms of the Lord. So safe that she didn’t believe in locking her doors and windows in her home – she believed that the Lord would (and He did!) take care of her.
She had a memorable homegoing service! There were tears, laughter, fond remembrances, and great singing by the soloists. The Lord was kind to the preaching moment and God be praised, two young men, who were pallbearers, came forward to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and for baptism!
It was a great, great week!
THANK YOU! For the first few weeks of this new blog on WordPress.com 56,000 people have viewed the blog in just that short period of time. I’m very humbled by your visitation and support. We also have been blessed by all of the new friends and fellow bloggers out there. I owe a debt to H.B. Charles, Jr., who inspired me to write – not just take up space – but write.
This year’s numbers as of 6 p.m. on December 30, 2012:
Visitors – 56,000
Posts (Articles) written – 155
Photos uploaded – 115
Busiest day of the year – December 27, 2012 with 935 views. Most popular page that day: Homegoing information for Dr. H. Devore Chapman.
Top 10 most popular posts of the year:
1. Home page
2. Homegoing of a Saint: Rev. Michael K. Wilson
3. About Robert Earl Houston
4. Homegoing of a Saint: Dr. Roy Jeffcoat
6. Vacant Church: Mt. Sinai Tabernacle (page closed)
7. Homegoing of a Saint: Dr. H. Devore Chapman
8. Vacant Church: First M.B.C., Monroe (page closed)
9. Hot Links
10. Homegoing of a Saint: Dr. Jerome Kirby
Most Popular REH Blog Posts (non-funeral, vacant church related):
1. Dear Angry Pastor
2. How to Apply for a Church (Friendly Advice)
3. The Ten Expository Preaching Commandments
4. Ten Things Pastors Will Face in the Future
5. Master, the Storm is Raging
6. Clergy Appreciation Month
7. Have You Lost Your Axe-Head?
8. The Cake of Preaching
9. Sheep Stealing
10. Every Preacher Needs a Friend
Top 10 Nations that view this site: 78 NATIONS viewed this site!
1. United States
3. United Kingdom
6. South Africa
Top Referrers to my site:
10. Pnbc.org (Progressive National Baptist Convention)
Top “clicks” that people utilized from my site:
Top Search Engine Terms (how you got here)
1. Robert Earl Houston (ministries, .org, vacant churches, the wire, etc.)
2. First Missionary Baptist Church Monroe, LA
3. Pastor Danny Kirk
4. Roy Jeffcoat
5. Jerome Kirby
6. H. Devore Chapman
7. Derek Witcher
8. Pastor Michael Wilson
9. Orchard Knob Baptist Church
10. Mt. Sinai Tabernacle
Shares of what people read on the site: (via Facebook, Email and Twitter)
1. Homegoing of a Saint: Michael K. Wilson
2. Homegoing of a Saint: Michael Burton
3. Homegoing of a Saint: Roy Jeffcoat
4. Homegoing of a Saint: Jerome Kirby
5. The Ten Expository Preaching Commandments
6. Homegoing of a Saint: James Rodgers
7. Homegoing of a Saint: Brenda Little
8. Dear Angry Pastor
9. Homegoing of a Saint: H. Devore Chapman
10. That Takes a Lot of Nerve
Most Comments to Posts:
1. Homegoing of a Saint: Michael K. Wilson
2. Homegoing of a Saint: Jerome Kirby
3. Homegoing of a Saint: Roy Jeffcoat
4. Vacant Church: New FBC Jefferson Gardens
5. About Robert Earl Houston
6. Every Preacher Needs a Friend
7. Dear Angry Pastor
8. 35 Years in the Making
9. The Obituary for Sunday School
10. Homegoing of a Saint: H. Devore Chapman
Before I go to bed tonight, I want to thank all of those who are so supportive of my website, http://www.roberthouston.org and the new branding for the site, “THE WIRE.” As of this morning (it’s about 1:20 a.m.) in just about a month, we’ve had 21,487 visitors to our site, according to WordPress. If these numbers hold, that means over a 250,000 visits will be realized a year, not counting all of the shares, reprints, and “have you seen this?” eses . . .
Before I was called to preach, I aspired to be a writer, specifically a journalist. I was blessed to go to Thomas Jefferson High School in Portland, Oregon and majored in Journalism/English. Little did I know that 35 years later, many of those skills I learned back then would still assist me today. I’ll always be grateful for Mrs. Ruthann Hartley-Harris (even though I didn’t get the Editorship, but I’ve gotten over it . . . well, mostly); Ms. Kathy Nolf (she was imagination personified); Mr. Harry Tate (tough as nails English Teacher); and all of those very creative souls at TJHS. We not only produced a newspaper, but a sports magazine (TimeOut), an in-house Television production news broadcast, and I was privileged for several years to apprentice/work at KBPS 1450 AM with Mr. Donald Bird, Mr. Kevin Quick, and Dr. Patricia Swenson, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 93.
Five things you may want to know . . .
1. I write as I’m inspired. A blog gives you that freedom – no pressure, no deadline.
2. I write to inspire, help and sometimes inform. Politically I am a Democrat (I come from a family of Louisiana Republicans and when I was 18 in Oregon, I was a registered Republican. I’ve been a Democrat since I was 21).
3. I’m a grammar freak. If I see something that’s written incorrectly, I go back and fix it a.s.a.p. Even on an airplane.
4. “The Wire” is named after “The Wire” one of my favorite television shows. My wife will testify, I’ll watch the Wire like it just came on for the first time even though the show’s been off the air for years.
5. My “blogging inspirations” are two men of God – Pastor H.B. Charles, Jr. and Pastor Dwight McKissic. All three of us have different styles but they have been very instrumental to me getting into the blogging habit. H.B. is a veracious blogger. I don’t know how he has the time and his blogs are thought-worthy and he does challenge the norms, which I appreciate. Dwight is the Apostle Paul of blogging – he would die on a hill if it meant holding fast to the Word of God. I don’t always agree with him, (but that’s cool, I’m sure that’s vice versa as well) – but I will say this – we have talked on the phone, become friends, and I appreciate his genuineness. Also, he’s no joke at the Southern Baptist Convention – that brother has CLOUT.
Further, the blog is being seen (obviously in the USA) but also in the following nations: Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, India, Switzerland, Brazil, Philippines, Germany, Kenya, French Polynesia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Denmark, Bahamas, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel, South Africa, Poland, Bahrain, Viet Nam, Spain, Turkey, Nigeria, Japan, Fiji, Virgin Islands, France, Bangladesh, Egypt, Ukraine, New Zealand, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, and Slovakia.
So, thank y’all for your support. I hope I get “gooder and gooder” at this. I’ve been preaching since 1978. Pastoring since 1989. Black since 1960. Crazy since 1974 (when I entered Jefferson). Musician since 1977. Cowboys fan since about 1975. Saved since 1976. And grateful to God for you . . .