Friday, February 5, 2016

Why Use a Sermon Series?

While some scripture texts and topics can be adequately dealt with in a “stand-alone” sermon, other texts and issues are better suited for a sermon series. A sermon series allows you to delve deeper into a text or subject than a stand-alone sermon. A sermon series is best used when the material is simply too much to be covered in a single sermon.

A series can be as short as three sermons or as long as eight. Less than three is just not enough to make a real series. More than eight is probably too long for people to connect all the parts to the whole.

A series should have an overall theme. Each sermon in the series should address some aspect of that theme. For maximum effectiveness, some sort of review will be necessary during each sermon to connect the individual sermons to the whole series. Handouts tend to help the series be more effective because it provides a written summary of the entire series after it is completed. If the series would interest the community, it can be used as an outreach tool.

Creating a strong series of sermons is a lot of work. It is easy to question the validity of all that work once the series is over, especially if there were no immediate results from the series. However, a sermon series can continue to be useful long after all the sermons have been preached.

Ways to use a sermon series after it is complete:

1. Use CDs/DVDs of the series to give to church visitors as a welcome gift. This is especially helpful if it is a series that explains what the church believes.

2. Use CDs/DVDs of the series as an outreach tool to the community. This is especially helpful if it covers some topic that might be of interest to the greater community, such as how to be an effective parent, or how to have a happy marriage or how to manage personal finances.

3. Use CDs/DVDs to build a “library” of the church’s teaching on a particular subject. This is especially helpful if the church has a lending library so that people can check the series out.

4. Distribute CDs/DVDs to those who have become home bound temporarily or are residents at a nursing home. This allows them to keep up with what is being taught at church.

5. Use the series to provide theological training to others. This is especially helpful if others in the church want to become pastors or lay ministers.

6. Convert the sermon series into a weekend seminar or week long revival so it can be used again.

7. Publish the series on YouTube so that the general public can have access to the information as well.

8. Convert the notes from the sermon series into a booklet that can be mass produced and distributed widely.

Though creating a strong series of sermons can be a lot of work, by using the series in other ways besides the original intent, it can be well worth the effort.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He has written a book about the spirit of offense that prevails in our current society. You can find all of his books at:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Spiritual Aspects of Financial Security

Ever feel like no matter how hard you work, you still have little to show for it? Some people try and try and try to make personal finances work out but still hit a brick wall at the end of the month. When we feel like that, we might consider reading some of the passages from the Old Testament books of Haggai and Malachi. These books are not the most popular in the Bible, but they do have some powerful things to say about how to have greater financial security.

Consider was the prophet says:

Haggai 1:6-7 “You have planted much but harvested little. You eat but never have enough to be satisfied. You drink but never have enough to become drunk. You put on clothes but never have enough to get warm. The wage earner puts his wages into a bag with a hole in it. The LORD of Hosts says this: Think carefully about your ways.”

Does that describe how we feel sometimes? We plant and plant but harvest little. We put our wages in a "bag" but it seems like the bag has a hole in it. Wow, that just sounds like real life to me!

Why does all this happen to us financially? Consider another prophets words:

Malachi 3:9-11 “You are suffering under a curse, yet you—the whole nation—are still robbing Me. Bring the full 10 percent tithe into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this way, says the LORD of Hosts. See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your ground, and your vine in your field will not be barren, says the LORD of Hosts.” (For a complete study on Malachi, see: "Malachi: Finding Hope in the Midst of Adversity.)

These are sobering thoughts. We don't like to think about robbing God, yet many of us have done exactly that when we have failed to honor God with our tithes.

The scripture is clear that if we do not tithe to the storehouse (the local church) then we cannot be blessed by God in our finances. If our financial situation has been not as prosperous as we had hoped, we should consider our commitment to tithing. Once we begin to tithe faithfully, then we can watch the miracles that God does in our lives.

It is important that our commitment to tithing does not come from a heart that wants to gain something in return, but from a heart that simply wants to walk in obedience to the Lord. God looks on our hearts and knows our true motives. Even though receiving back from God may not be our motive, God has said that He will indeed bless us for giving. What a great God we serve.

We may think that we cannot afford to tithe, but we need to read those verses over again. They indicate that we cannot afford NOT to tithe. God protects us from financial harm when we tithe with a right heart attitude. God keeps the devourer away. When we fail to tithe, then we suffer the devastating effects of real life without the blessing of God to protect us.

When thinking about tithing, it is important to remember that the church’s expenses continue whether we happen to be present on a particular Sunday or not. Even if our schedule keeps us away for a couple of weeks, the church's electric bill still has to be paid. The pastor's salary still has to be paid. The benevolence programs for the poor and the outreach programs to the community are an ongoing need, even if we happen to miss church from time to time. Learning to tithe is also about learning to be faithful. God cannot bless unfaithfulness. We must learn to tithe consistently. The reality is that if we want the church to be there for us when we need it, we must be faithful to tithe even when we are not there.

Statistics tell us that senior adults are the most likely to tithe and many have done so for most of their adult lives. Statistics also tell us that only 1% of young adults under the age of 25 tithe. If we do not turn this trend around, many churches will not exist when young adults need them. Let each of us examine our own hearts and lives on this issue and respond in obedience to the Lord.



Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He has written a book about the spirit of offense that prevails in our current society. You can find all of his books at:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Considering Vocational Ministry

The Facebook message was from a young friend of mine who was in college. I had known him since he was a pre-teen, having watched him come to faith and then grow to maturity in his faith. The question he asked in his message was one I’ve been asked dozens of times over the years. He was considering a call to vocational ministry and wanted to be sure it was the right direction for him. I think he was hoping for an easy answer, what I gave him was more of a “process” to work through than a quick answer. But it did help him walk  through that journey and, in my opinion, he followed the right path that God had for him.

Anyone considering a ministry vocation should think through these things:


1. Ask God to clarify if there has been a special calling to vocational ministry.
God calls every Christian to minister using the spiritual gifts He has given them. Therefore every Christian ought to be involved in some type of ministry in whatever church they attend. But God has also called some people to the special role of serving in ministry as their profession. That is what it means when we talk about "vocational ministry." A vocation refers to the job that allows a person to make a living. While every Christian ought to be serving the Lord in some way, some Christians will feel led to completely immerse themselves in service to the Lord by serving as a pastor, missionary, music minister, chaplain, Christian school teacher, youth worker, seminary professor, church planter, or some other vocational ministry role. The first step in determining if a person has a vocational call to ministry is to pray and seek confirmation from the Lord if this is what the person should be doing as their vocation.

2. Seek wisdom on what type of call God may be issuing.
As mentioned above, there are a variety of different ways a person can serve the Lord in vocational ministry. Often the Lord calls a person to serve in a particular role because of their personality or talents. Sometimes that calling even shifts some as a person moves through life. They may start as a youth worker in a church but eventually become the pastor. Or they may start as a teacher in a Christian school and later be led to become a missionary. There are many ways in which to serve and a person must ask God to show them which one is right for them at that particular stage in their life. Then they must be willing to obey whatever God leads them to do, even if it was not what the person had in mind when they first felt called to vocational ministry. Far too many young people are trying to be “pastors” when their calling is to a role other than pastor. Pastoring is hard work and should only be engaged in by those with that specific calling.

3. Seek advice from a trusted minister.
A great help in determining both the calling to vocational ministry and which type of ministry a person might be called to is talking to a person who is already serving in vocational ministry. Ask what it is like to serve in that particular ministry as a profession. Discuss the many different types of ministry careers that are available. Discuss what type of training might be required for different types of ministry. Ask the person to pray with you and help you walk through this exciting time of decision in life.

4. Develop personal spirituality.
If a person wants to be in successful in ministry, they are going to have to be a spiritual person and live a righteous life. Reading the Bible, having a strong prayer life, and eliminating unholy habits are important. No one is perfect, but it is important to start living a holy life as soon as a person thinks he or she may be called to ministry. God can use anyone, no matter what their background, but obviously it is more difficult for people who lacked personal holiness in the past and are carrying a lot of baggage around with them to serve as effectively in ministry as a person who has been focused on a living a holy life for a long time. As soon as a person thinks they might be called to vocational ministry, they should  focus on being a spiritual person, a righteous person, a holy person. Even aspiring ministers will make mistakes, but if personal spirituality remains the focus, it is possible to avoid making any mistakes that would significantly hamper future ministry. If at some point we realize that God is not calling us to vocational ministry, we will have still developed a holy life, which is never a wasted effort.

5. Prepare for ministry through training.
Don't just read the Bible, start studying the Bible intently. Invest in some good commentaries and other Bible study aids that will aid in explaining the Bible in order to teach others. Attend programs, classes or conferences aimed at improving ministry skills. If possible, enroll in a Bible college or seminary for professional training. God does use people who have not been to Bible college or seminary, but most ministers affirm that what they learned in Bible college or seminary was a significant help to them in ministry. Therefore it is good for a person who feels called to ministry to plan to attend an accredited school for ministry training if at all possible.

6. Ask the local church to examine your calling.
Every church has different methods of helping a person confirm their calling to ministry. Find out how your church does it and then start the process. If a person is really called by God to ministry, then the church will recognize that calling and affirm it. If the church is unwilling to affirm that calling, it is important to examine our hearts and make sure we have heard from God correctly about our calling. In some ministry roles a person needs to be licensed or ordained. There is normally a process that needs to be worked through in order to receive those credentials. Take the time to work through that process as the church requires. It will be worth it in the end.

7. Begin looking for ways to serve now while preparing for the future.
When a person first begins to feel a call to vocational ministry, they should look for ways to serve in volunteer ministry. It may be several years before the person has received enough training and been through whatever processes are required to actually serve in a vocational way. But that person should immediately look for smaller ways to serve. If a person cannot teach Sunday School faithfully, how will they ever be able to preach regularly? If a person cannot lead music once a month in church, how will they ever become a music minister? If a person cannot teach for one week in the summer Vacation Bible School, how will they ever be able to teach daily in a Christian school? The reality is that the quality of service a person does for the Lord right now is a reflection on the quality of ministry they will do in the future. And if a person is not serving the Lord right now as a volunteer, it is unlikely that person will be able to serve Him in the future in any vocational way.

Like any other profession, ministry has its challenges. But serving the Lord is very fulfilling. Helping people find peace, hope and joy in their lives is a wonderful thing. Helping people find faith in Christ and security for eternal life is the most rewarding of all. Those who are called to vocational ministry will have a challenging, but extremely rewarding, life.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He has written a book about the spirit of offense that prevails in our current society. You can find all of his books at:


Thursday, January 14, 2016

We Need to be In Relationship With Others

My wife and I once watched a movie about a young man who decided to move to Alaska and live all by himself in an old bus in the middle of nowhere. The movie portrayed a number of relationships that others tried to build with the young man but in each case he walked away from those relationships. He walked away because he had been hurt by a close relationship he had in his childhood. That made him afraid to allow other people inside his walls. The movie ended rather sadly. He made a mistake in reading a book on plant life and accidentally ate a poisonous plant. Regretfully, that led to his death a few days later. He died as he had lived, isolated and alone. The movie was based on a true story that was portrayed in a popular book written by the young man’s family after his body was found several weeks later by hunters.

As I have reflected on that movie it occurs to me that it is a picture of the lives of far too many people in our broken society. Many have been hurt in various relationships and that hurt has caused them to emotionally isolate themselves from those around them. They think they can make it all on their own without other people. This is flawed thinking. We need relationships with others. Even though we can be hurt by relationships, we really cannot live without them. Knowing this, God designed us to desire friends, look for a mate, enjoy family, and seek out a faith community. When we ignore those urges, we are less happy than we could be.

Had that young man in the movie had some other people with him, they might have noticed when he mistook a poisonous plant for an edible one. Or perhaps they would have been able to help him hike back to town and seek medical help. Even if he felt he really needed some time alone, had he been willing to share his life with others, they would have known where he was and could have come looking for him when he did not return. Unfortunately since he told no one where he had gone, no one could come rescue him. The story had a sad ending, but what made it even sadder was that it did not have to end that way. He did not have to die alone and isolated far from home in an abandoned school bus. But he was not willing to open himself up to other people and trust them. His determination to do break off all relationships with other people ultimately resulted in his untimely and tragic death.

We must do all that we can so that others do not follow the same depressing path with its sad ending. We must learn to trust again. We must encourage others to trust again. We be willing to open ourselves up to having deep and meaningful relationships. Even though we may have been hurt in the past, and there is a chance we may be hurt in the future, the reality is, we cannot live happy productive lives without relationships. Relationships are a risk, but we must realize that relationships are a risk worth taking.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He has written a book about the spirit of offense that prevails in our current society. You can find all of his books at:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Stop Being Offended

Some time ago a friend of mine was highly offended by a joke someone told which they were convinced was aimed at them. The joke was made by a person leading a meeting. There were dozens of people in the room, but the person who was offended was 100% positive that the joke was pointed specifically at them. I was a bit confused because I did not see any connection between the joke and the offended person. Clearly the joker had not intended the joke to be aimed at anyone. But to the person who was upset, it was obviously all about them.

Then there was the time that someone in the youth group put a movie quote on Facebook as their status, and half a dozen people were sure it was some kind of veiled jab at them. It wasn't. It was just a really cool quote from a movie the person had seen earlier in the day. But to those half dozen people, it was obviously all about them.

It seems that people are more easily offended now than ever before. Our culture has somehow created a hyper-sensitive emotional state where everyone is convinced that the world is out to get them.

Perhaps it is a result of low self-esteem. We feel bad about ourselves; therefore we think others feel bad about us too. Since we think that everything feels bad about us, then we interpret anything they say or do as a "bad" intention toward us. Or perhaps it is a result of arrogance. We think the entire world revolves around us, so therefore everything everyone does or says must be about us too. In reality, most people are not paying attention to most of what we say or do, and the world does not revolve around us, but in our arrogance we often think it does.

Whether from low self-esteem or from high levels of arrogance, someone how our culture has convinced us everything is about us. Once we get angry and upset about one "offense" that someone did to us, we transfer that anger over into other relational experiences as well. Instead of finding joy in our relationships, we just find pain and hurt. This causes us to end friendships that are really important to us, which just brings more pain and hurt. Or keeps us from allowing our friendships to become as deep as they need to be, which also bring pain and hurt. The end result is that we spend a lot of time angry and upset about stuff that often only exists in our own mind and engaging in relational sabotage that only starts the cycle all over again.

News flash, the world does not revolve around any particular one of us! People do not really sit around dreaming up ways to hurt us. People are too busy trying to make a living, trying to pass math class, trying to find a job or be a better parent to spend time being obsessed with offending us. The only person obsessed with us, is US. It is time we learn to relax a little and stop creating drama that does not exist. We will all be a lot happier if we stop taking everything everyone says or does personally.


It's not all about us. And that's a good thing.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He has written a book about the spirit of offense that prevails in our current society. You can find all of his books at:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Let's Talk about Jesus!

A growing number of people in America do not consider themselves Christians. Some are completely non-religious. Others follow different religions. Some are just not sure what to believe. To my surprise I have found that many non-Christians have a deep respect for Jesus and don’t mind talking about Him, it is all the “other” Christian stuff that causes difficulties in conversation. So when I witness to people who are not from Christian backgrounds, I try to keep the conversation focused on Jesus, not politics, or church structure or religious tradition.

Consider these ideas:

Muslims have many different sects, just like there are many different Christian denominations. Muslims often argue among themselves about the particulars of what their various sects believe, but nearly all Muslims respect Jesus as a great prophet and religious teacher. Though they don't think Jesus is the Savior of the world, they do think He was an important prophet. When talking to Muslims about Jesus we can focus on the prophetic words that Jesus spoke since they respect Jesus as a prophet.

Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah for whom they have been waiting, but many Jews do have respect for Jesus as a great religious teacher. When talking about Jesus to Jews, we can focus on what Jesus says about Moses and other prophets whom laid the foundation for the Jewish faith.

Many Buddhists believe Jesus is a reincarnation of one of the Buddhas. Though I don't share that viewpoint, I do appreciate their respect for Jesus. When talking to Buddhists we can talk about what Jesus said about inner spirituality being superior to outward appearances since that is also important to Buddhists.

Gandhi, who was Hindu, had great respect for Jesus. Gandhi once said that if more Christians in his nation actually lived like Jesus, all of India would be Christian. When talking to Hindus about Jesus, we can focus on the actions Jesus told us to emulate, since outward religious action is important in their faith.


Many atheists even respect Jesus. They love how He talked about social justice issues. They often agree with how Jesus chastised established religion for neglecting the poor and needy. When talking to atheists about Jesus we can focus on the relational aspects of how Jesus told us to treat each other and how He encouraged us to use our wealth to make a difference in the world around us.

The point I am trying to make is that talking to others about Jesus might be easier than we think because most people, even non-Christians, respect Jesus. Of course, those of us who are Christians should make sure we don't mess up our discussion about Jesus by failing to act like Jesus. We can’t just talk about Him; we must do our best to live like Him. So let’s live it AND talk it this year!

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

Monday, January 11, 2016

How Reliable is the Bible?

We live in a culture that now questions everything, even things that have long been accepted as truth. One icon of American culture that is now being questioned repeatedly is the reliability of the Bible. Conservative Christians say we should trust the Bible because God told people what to write in it and that God has preserved that truth through the ages through the power of the Holy Spirit so that the Bible we read today teaches the same thing that the original manuscripts did. Many scholars refer to this as the “divine inspiration of scripture.” This concept held sway over American moral thought since the founding of the nation in 1776.

But today many people question just how reliable those ancient manuscripts of the Bible really are. After all, they reason, the Bible was written a long time ago in a different language and in a different cultural context. Surely it has been changed again and again in all those translations so that even if it was from God in the beginning, it cannot be close to the truth now. This has caused many people to question whether they can trust the Bible or not.

Here is some helpful information about the reliability of the ancient manuscripts that might help us understand how reliable those ancient texts are. There are over 24,000 ancient New Testament manuscripts that have been discovered so far. That is an incredible number of documents. Compare this with the second best-preserved literary work of all antiquity, Homer's Iliad, for which we have discovered only 643 preserved manuscripts. The printing press wasn't invented until the 1450's, but we have hand-written copies of the Old Testament dating back to the 200's BC. Remarkably, these ancient manuscripts are nearly identical to the Bible we read today.

Some people accept the reliability of the Old Testament, since it has been preserved by Jewish scholars as well as Christian ones, but doubt if the New Testament of today is the same as the written in the First Century. They reason that the New Testament we read today was completed so far after the time of Jesus that it could not possibly be an accurate reflection of what happened during that time period. But literary science shows otherwise. The Bodmer Papyrus II contains most of the Gospel of John and dates from around 150-200 AD. The Chester Beatty Papyri contains major portions of the New Testament and dates back to about 200 AD. The Codex Vaticanus, the oldest complete New Testament manuscript discovered so far, dates from 325-350 AD. The apostle John, who lived with Jesus and learned from Jesus, penned five New Testament books and died in 100 AD. We have fragments of John's Gospel that date from 110-130 AD, within 30 years of his death. When translated into English, these documents all give essentially the same New Testament that most modern translations give us today.  When compared to other ancient works such as Plato, Homer or Tacitus, that short time period between the original and the most recent copy is dramatic.

Clement of Rome was martyred in 100 AD. In his writings, he quoted from Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, 1 Corinthians, 1 Peter, Hebrews, and Titus. Clement's quotes correspond with the Bible we read today. In fact, even if we lost all of the 5,300 early Greek manuscripts, all of the 10,000 Latin vulgates, and all of the 9,300 other ancient manuscripts, we would be able to reconstruct all but 11 verses of the New Testament from the writings of the early Church leaders who quoted from them extensively. We have over 36,000 preserved quotes from the New Testament. The New Testament we read today is essentially the same as the one written in the First Century.
The Bible was completed in its entirety nearly 2,000 years ago and stands today as the best-preserved literary work of all antiquity. The Bible is unquestionably the world's all-time bestseller with an estimated 2 billion copies in print and we can trust that the Bible we read today is the same one the ancient believers of old read. Do not let doubt hollow out your faith. Let the Holy Spirit convince you and let science confirm what the Holy Spirit is saying and trust that the Bible is a reliable work.


(Some of this information was adapted from: http://www.allabouttruth.org/bible-truth.htm).

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at: