Mark A. Finley, DDiv, is the founder and president of the Living Hope School of Evangelism in Haymarket, Virginia, United States. He also serves as an assistant to the president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

I was a young pastor, just beginning my ministry, when I invited a conference official to preach in my church. His musty sermon notes revealed their age. It was a message he had preached on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, that Sabbath, he served stale, spiritual leftovers to my congregation. My members were gracious but disappointed in the lack of spiritual depth in the message.

His sermon reminded me of a story I had read about the “One-Sermon Wonder.” It seems the preacher had only one sermon, so he tried to spread out his appointments in order to preach the same sermon in a different church each week. The problem with “one-sermon-wonder” preachers is that their thoughts become stale. They lack the excitement of new discovery. They present worn-out, tired ideas with little freshness, vitality, and creativity. They fail, as Jesus said, to bring from the storehouse of truth “things old and new.”

The key

What we share with others is the overflow of our own experience in the Word.

Growth in the Christian life requires a disciplined mind saturated with the Word of God. Before the Holy Spirit speaks through us, He must speak to us. Before we speak for God, we must speak to God. Before other hearts are moved by our witness, our heart must be moved by the Spirit’s witness. All genuine authentic witness is the result of an authentic experience with Jesus.

Although I have been in the gospel ministry for over 50 years, I constantly ask God to expand my thinking to give me new, fresh, deeply spiritual thoughts to present to His people. I am reminded of the apostle Paul’s words to his young protégé, Timothy, “Study to yourself approved by God”
(2 Tim. 2:15). Typically, it takes me 12-15 hours of research, writing, and review to prepare a new sermon. The guidance of the Holy Spirit in my study prepares me to preach with the power of the Holy Spirit in the pulpit.

Let me share with you one of the resources that we have developed at the Living Hope School of Evangelism to help pastors, elders, and lay leaders broaden their horizons and become more effective spiritual leaders in the cause of Christ.

A new resource

It’s called Hopelives365 online university, and I am excited about it! The university offers 115 courses for pastors, elders, and lay leaders to enhance their knowledge of God’s Word and their ability to serve their congregations more successfully. The university has 1,000 regular students with 2,500 enrollments. Many of the courses are free of charge, while others have a moderate charge.

The preaching course is one of the most popular. Here you discover how to prepare a biblical sermon, see the biblical text with Holy Spirit–anointed eyes, use powerful illustrations to make your key points, and make life-changing appeals. Hundreds have testified to the difference this is making in their preaching.

You will also enjoy the course on principles of godly leadership. This course shares how effective leaders cast vision and motivate their congregations to look beyond what is to what can be. You will learn how to transform your church board into a mission-centered dynamic body of leaders passionate about developing evangelistic strategies in each department and ministry of the church. The health courses will benefit your personal health as well as equip your team to reach out in redemptive ways to your community, and our Bible Study and prophetic courses will enhance your knowledge of the Word of God.

These courses allow you to enjoy what has been my privilege, alongside other Adventist leaders, namely, to share what God has taught me about preaching, ministry, leadership, and evangelism over the last 50-plus years.

If this can be a blessing to you, feel free to log in to Hopelives365biblestudy.com. You may be thrilled at how quickly you learn in this online environment, and assistance is always available to help you become everything heaven desires you to be as you keep growing for the glory of God.

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Mark A. Finley, DDiv, is the founder and president of the Living Hope School of Evangelism in Haymarket, Virginia, United States. He also serves as an assistant to the president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

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