Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Prayer for 2017

My devotions this morning were from Luke 5. Verses 1-11 remind us of the time Jesus was teaching on the seashore and so many people came to hear Him they were literally pressing in around Him. He had to get into a nearby boat and push out a little from shore and teach from the water. Imagine having so many people come to hear the preaching that that the crowd was literally pressing into the preacher!

After completing His sermon, Jesus told the disciples to let down their fishing nets. It was the wrong time of day to fish. And some scholars say they broke with tradition by fishing from the wrong side of the boat. But they obeyed Jesus and caught so many fish they had to summon their friends to bring other boats out to help them collect all the fish. That is a lot of fish!

My prayer for 2017 is that pastors will preach the Word so powerfully that the numbers of people who come will overwhelm their worship space and those pastors will call pastors from other churches to help them take some of the people so they can all be discipled well.

Our God is able, are we willing......


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:

Friday, December 23, 2016

Thoughts About Christmas

As Christmas fast approaches I've been talking to some of my friends about what Christmas means to them. I found their responses interesting and (with their permission) have posted them below. Enjoy! And feel free to add your own thoughts in the comment section below.

My friend Donna is thinking about how Eve and Adam introduced sin into the world by falling for the serpent's tricks. Generations later, through another woman, the Virgin Mary, God's Son was born to redeem mankind from sin. Donna thinks that comparing and contrasting Eve's and Mary's experiences would make an interesting sermon.

A fellow pastor likes to ask people at Christmas time "How's Your Easter Spirit?" He is trying to get people to consider the fact that Jesus was born at Christmas so that He could die and rise from the dead at Easter.

A teenage boy I know just thinks about eating lots of great food. What else would teenage boys think about at Christmas?

My friend Donald has been thinking a lot about the Holy Spirit during the Christmas season. He has been through some tough times in his life and the holidays can be difficult for him. But as he relies on the Holy Spirit, he finds the strength to keep going.

One of the worship leaders at a nearby church is struggling to maintain a true Christmas spirit while shopping for gifts. Somehow the spirit of giving and the “greed” that is so prevalent in our materialistic culture just do not go together in his mind. I share his struggle and hope that we never get comfortable with the commercialism that Christmas has become.

My friend Brian wants to know the best way to communicate to others. He wonders “Why keep trying to communicate with people who do not seem interested in listening?” As millions of families gather for various Christmas celebrations, knowing what to say when will become very important!

My friend Kathy is thinking about all her favorite Christmas songs. There are many songs that we only sing around Christmas time and they are powerful reminders of how God came to earth to save sinners. He came with angels, stars, shepherds, mooing cattle and eventually an entourage of wise men. Maybe we should start singing Christmas music all year long?

My friend Don wonders why God decided to come to earth in the form of His created likeness. After all, He’s God. He could have taken any form. But He chose to become a man. Perhaps so we could relate to Him better?

Finally, my friend Roy ponders not just the reason Christ came, but what He willingly endured as a member of humanity for us. That is perhaps the most mind-numbing concept to consider on this entire list. Christ came to save sinners. Though salvation may be free to those who receive it, it cost Christ a great deal. Physical pain from the crucifixion itself was more than most of us could bear. But Christ also endured emotional pain as He was betrayed by one of His own and then abandoned by those who only hours earlier had boasted that they would die for Him if needed. But the most terrible thing Christ had to endure for us was our sin. When He who knew no sin became sin for us, that was the most awful experience anyone could ever have. But Christ endured the shame of the cross so that we might taste the glory of heaven. Perhaps that might be the most important concept for all of us to consider that as we celebrate Christmas this year.

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, December 5, 2016

Why is Preaching Harder Than It Used to Be?

The ability to preach a meaningful sermon has always been important for a minister. Many pastors feel that preaching great sermons has gotten harder than it used to be. While there may be many reasons why preaching has gotten harder, technology is driving many of those shifts in preaching.

1.Technology makes preaching harder because it allows us to listen to excellent preachers from around the world.

In the past we mostly only heard sermons from our local minister. Perhaps once or twice a year a guest speaker might come through and lead a series of meetings. Perhaps once or twice a year the pastor would allow a young “preacher boy” to fill the pulpit. But for the most part, we only heard sermons from our local pastor. Since that was what we were used to, we accepted whatever his style of preaching was as the “normal” or “right” way of preaching. But now technology allows us to listen to excellent preachers from all over the world. We can listen to them on podcasts, watch them on TV or live stream them on the Internet. This allows us to watch the best orators from all around the world. While this can be helpful to our spiritual walk, it can also make us more critical of our local pastor than we should be. Local pastors are feeling pressure to preach like all the celebrity pastors. But for many, that is an unrealistic pressure. There are only so many David Platts, Andy Stanleys and John Pipers in the world. Expecting our local pastor to preach like them is unfair. It puts far more strain on him than it did on previous generations of preachers. Though we should enjoy all the great preaching that technology allows us access to, we should strive to prepare our hearts to receive something from the sermon in our local church no matter the oratory skills of our local minister.

2. Technology makes preaching harder because it allows us to fact check sermons instantaneously.

Though pastors should strive to be as accurate as possible in their sermon preparation, no one is perfect. Every pastor will eventually misquote a statistic, refer to the incorrect tense of a Greek or Hebrew word, or get the details of some illustration from popular culture wrong. In the past, we might have thought something the preacher said was a bit off, but with no way to verify it until later, we normally let it slide. If we did remember to check the details later and learned the pastor was slightly off, we often still benefited from everything else he said in the sermon regardless of some minor mistake he may have made. Today our smart phones allow us to instantly fact check pastors’ sermons. And if we find that he has messed up some minor detail, we often become so focused on that small error that we are unable to hear the rest of what he is saying. Our immediate use of technology often leads to us discounting the truth of the rest of the sermon over a minor point that really is non-essential to what he was trying to say. This is unfair to the minister. Imagine if a room full of people were fact checking everything you or I said in real time? That is a lot of pressure to put on a minister, or anyone else for that matter. That does not mean that pastors should be sloppy in their research, but it does mean that congregations should not hold them up to some standard that is impossible for anyone to achieve. Let’s refrain from using our smart phones to fact check the pastor during the sermon so that we do not miss the point of what he is trying to say in the rest of the sermon.

3. Technology makes preaching harder because it gives pastors access to other people’s sermons.

At first glance, this might sound like an advantage. And indeed, when done correctly, listening to, or researching, someone else’s sermons can be a helpful part of sermon preparation. However, it also increases the temptation for a pastor to just preach a sermon someone else created. Seldom does that work as well as a sermon that a pastor has embedded deep in his spirit through prayerful mediation and study. Conscientious pastors may use someone else’s sermon for ideas, outlines and research but will not try to pass those sermons off as their own. They may incorporate some portion of someone else’s sermon and give credit where credit is due, but the heart of their sermons will be of their own making. But technology allows pastors who are less than conscientious pretend to be more prepared than they are. Most people see through the ruse and the result is that even when the content is great, the credibility of the pastor is in question, thereby producing a sermon with less impact than it should. When we suspect that our pastor is using someone else’s sermons, we should pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal to our pastor the dangers of that approach. We might also ask our pastor for a copy of his notes from time to time, not in an effort to catch him doing wrong, but in an effort to enhance our own learning experience. By doing that we also help our pastor remain accountable for having notes that came from his own study and were not just downloaded from some website.

4. Technology makes preaching harder because we have become a very visual culture.

As a culture, we have gotten used to graphics, videos, and other digital media to help us learn. Many pastors lack the skills, or the time, to incorporate these technological items into sermons on a regular basis. This is especially true for bivocational pastors, who have very limited preparation time. While it is hoped that pastors will try to learn these skills and squeeze the time in, the reality is that many pastors will not be able to take advantage of all the technologies available for the visual presentation of their content. We should train our hearts and minds to focus on the content of what our pastor is saying instead of judging him for his lack of graphic design abilities.

Technology is changing how we communicate, including how sermons are prepared and preached. Some of those changes are great. Others are not as helpful. We must commit ourselves to making the best use of technology and avoiding the pitfalls of it.


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:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Life Changing Gospel

I was 11 the first time I truly understood the gospel. It filled me with hope for the future. It was a hope that lifted my eyes off of the momentary troubles in my life and changed my perspective. It changed my perspective about my family, my community and my church. For me, the gospel was truly good news.

The gospel began to bear fruit almost immediately in my life. By the time I was 14 I knew I wanted to be in ministry. I preached my first sermon in the 8th grade and somehow covered the entire book of Revelation in less than 10 minutes. I look back on that first sermon with a humorous smile realizing that I’ve never understood that book as clearly as I thought I did that day! Those early days of my faith were a joyous time of learning, growing and discovering what the gospel could do in my life.

Do you remember the joy you felt when the truth of the gospel first came to you? Do you remember how it changed you? Do you remember the wonder and amazement you had when you learned something new in the Word or through prayer? Since you received the gospel, have you born fruit in keeping with the gospel that now dwells in you? Have we genuinely deepened in our faith or merely become pious?

Titus 3:3-4 reminds us that “we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared” he saved us. That salvation was life altering, not only for us, but for those around us who were also impacted by our understanding of the gospel. The gospel changes people and it is a change worth experiencing.

Yet billions of people around the world have yet to hear the truth of the gospel. Millions right here in America only know a cultural gospel that is really no gospel at all. Those of us who are born again Christians can be part of changing that reality. We can rise up as a people of God and put aside our racial differences, our political differences, our stylistic differences and share the gospel with those around us. We can pray, give and volunteer through our churches, through the organizations like the Baptist Convention of New England, Samaritan's Purse, the Salvation Army and the SBC International Mission Board. In doing so, we can help those who have yet to hear the gospel for the first time experience the same mercy and grace that we did when we first believed. Are we willing to do it?


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: