Preaching Grid: How Do We Preach the Whole Counsel of God to Everyone

Preaching Grid, NS

A few weeks ago the Sojourn Network hosted a micro-conference in Chicago at Missio Dei Wrigleyville on planting, growing, and multiplying healthy churches. We had a blast with the many pastors and church leaders who attended from the surrounding areas. Among other topics, I spoke a little about how to practically obey our God by preaching the whole counsel of Scripture. (Acts 20:27, Matt. 28:20) We must preach from the Scriptures with a coherent theological vision in order to form our people as the church and fuel them into the world.

But we aren’t preaching in a vacuum. We are preaching to particular people in a particular place inside both space and time. Therefore, healthy contextualization is necessary — not to make the Scriptures meaningful (they are plenty sufficient, true, and powerful on their own), but to show the audience’s relevancy to the Scriptures.

Therefore, at Sojourn Community Church and adopted by many Sojourn Network churches is this preaching grid (you can download it as a PDF here: Preaching Grid) based on our theological vision (we call it North Star. You can view the North Star Catechism here). The grid and the included questions help us filter some first steps in contextualization like age range of attendees, spiritual situations of the people, or atmosphere of the particular local church.

Often and mostly informally, we give feedback to one another as campus pastors here at Sojourn. We have live preaching at each of our four campuses with four main communicators. As we collaborate, listen each other’s sermons, and meet together each week, we give feedback along the lines of this gird in order to keep our preaching balanced and deep, as we earnestly preach the whole counsel of God.

  • What other questions are you regularly asking yourself each week during sermon prep?
  • Do you have a theological vision you try to check against your preaching?
  • How does accountability for preaching work in your church?
  • Do you have elders or church members of a variety of age and life situations speaking into your work?

More Dance, Less Evil

Coury Deeb is a good friend of mine and member of Sojourn, who lives at the intersection of art and justice. And now the film production company Coury founded, Nadus Films, is premiering one of the coolest events of June in our city.

Next week, June 21st, Nadus is hosting the More Dance – Less Hate tour here in Louisville, KY, in promotion of their latest movie BBOY for LIFE, which tells the story of gang life and breakdancing in Guatemala. BBOY for LIFE asks the question, “How can someone born into a world of violence and death find hope for a better world?”

This event includes the following:

– Meet b-boy Cheez and b-boy Gato from the film BBOY for LIFE and see them compete
– See regional b-boy crews battle on stage for a cash prize of $1,000.00
– Watch the film BBOY for LIFE w/ the central characters and engage in a panel discussion with the cast after the screening
– Enjoy a live music performance from Louisville rap artist Jalin Roze
– Enjoy family activities such as free dance lessons for kids
– Eat from some yummy food trucks

The More Dance – Less Hate tour kickoff is June 21st from 3pm – 11pm (free) at the Tim Faulkner Gallery (1512 Portland Ave, Louisville, KY 40203).

The first 100 people who arrive at 3pm get a free BBOY for LIFE soundtrack. And Nadus will be filming that day, so you stand a good chance of being in the promo video for their tour. I hope that all Sojourners and our neighbors in Louisville will consider attending. You won’t regret it!

SBC Roadtrip 2014


This week I’m heading with my Baptist brethren to the Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore. I’m participating in a few different events that I’d love to see you at!

Monday night at 9 PM, I’m participating in a Sojourn Network panel with Michael Crawford (Freedom Church) and Dan Hyun (Village Church) called “Grace & Race.” It will be held at Freedom Church, which is located at 5310 Hazelwood Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21206. The first 200 people will get a free copy of my new book, PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace.


On Tuesday at 2:30 PM, I am doing a panel hosted by NAMB on mercy ministry in the context of the local church and yu watch live here. Then immediately following that, at 3 PM, I will be doing an interview on the Exchange with my mentor and dear friend Ed Stetzer on PROOF and Sojourn Network and you watch that live here.

One of the things that I’m really excited about next week is partaking in one of the Southern Baptists’ greatest pastimes – eating. Here are the local eats that I’m going to be dining at this week:

Talara. Fire and ice seviche? Um…yes, please. Tuna asian tartar? Throw one of those in too! I’m a sucker for good Latin American food, and my sources tell me that this place is one of the best in Baltimore.

RA Sushi Bar. This place is supposed to have sushi rolls that are out of this world. I’m not quite sure when I’ll make it there, but the happy hour time slot has some amazing sushi deals. If you go for happy hour sushi, get there early or you may not find a seat.

Lebanese Taverna. This place has a hommus bar. Or is it hummus? Something to ponder on.

Little Havana. This place has become a landmark in South Baltimore over the last 15 years. It’s a casual restaurant with a great view of the harbor and is home to some of the best Cuban food in the city.

Thames Street Oyster House. I’ve had crab cakes in Baltimore, but I’ve never had them at Thames before. I’m salivating just thinking about them. If you’re church sent you with a healthy stipend, they apparently have a $25 lobster roll that will have you screaming “Amen!” or “Hallelujah!”



People in Baltimore have religious convictions about their crab cakes, but let’s not turn this into another Southern Baptist controversy. So, for the sake of peace, I have to mention some other notable crab cake hotspots: Koco’s, G&M, and Faidley’s Seafood.

If you happen to know some local Baltimore eateries that are a little better than my list, please let me know. I take Paul’s command to eat and drink for the glory of God literally.

If you want to link up to learn more about Sojourn Network, we’ll be having a number of meet-ups on Monday & Tuesday. Email Justin Karl at if you want the details.

Baltimore, here we come!


Top 12 Books About The Holy Spirit

pentecost-blogPentecost Sunday is this Sunday, June 8. Pentecost reminds us that it’s not Father, Son, and holy principles, it’s Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is a call to remember and re-envision life with the Spirit in the local Church. God doesn’t give us a business model to implement; He gives us Himself. Pentecost celebrates this gift and reminds us of the necessity of the Holy Spirit in preaching the gospel and advancing God’s mission.

This past year, Sojourn spent 40 weeks in John. Of all the New Testament writers, John provides some of the best teachings on the Holy Spirit, especially in the Gospels. In John we see the seven ministries of the Spirit: baptizing, regenerating, indwelling, reminding, convicting, teaching, empowering.

To further inform your understanding of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost Week, here are some of my favorite works:

He Who Gives Life & Engaging with the Holy Spirit by Graham A. Cole

While I don’t agree with everything that Graham Cole writes, I believe that “He Who Gives Life” provides some of the most sober reflections on the Holy Spirit. “He Who Gives Life” is a little bit meatier, while “Engaging with the Holy Spirit” answers six commonly asked questions about the Holy Spirit: (1) what is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?, (2) how may we resist the Holy Spirit?, (3) ought we to pray to the Holy Spirit?, (4) how do we quench the Holy Spirit?, (5) how do we grieve the Holy Spirit?, (6) how does the Holy Spirit fill us?

Convergence & The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts by Sam Storm

Over the years, Sam Storms has provided some of the finest reflections on the Holy Spirit in the local church. In “Convergence” he provides us with his story and life with the Spirit, and in “The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts” he gives a field guide of what it looks like to live in the power of the Spirit in the context of the church. Sam Storms is a friend who has preached at Sojourn and led training on the Holy Spirit. I highly recommend all of his work.

Keeping In Step with the Spirit by J.I. Packer

This is by far one of my most ear-marked and highlighted works on the Holy Spirit. This is a devotional gem! It is also a great work in helping us map out the life of the Spirit on the terrain of the human heart as well as the local church.

God’s Empowering Presence & Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God by Gordon D. Fee

Gordon Fee is a beast. His opus “God’s Empowering Presence” is nearly 1,000 pages. While I may not agree with all of his interpretations, he models Spirit-filled scholarship better than anything else that I’ve seen. If 1,000 pages seems daunting, start with “Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God.”

Creator Spirit: The Holy Spirit and the Art of Becoming Human by Steven R. Guthrie

Steven Guthrie deals with intersection of the Holy Spirit, creativity, and spirituality. This work provides clarity regarding the particularity of the Spirit’s work in the arts, but also provides a vision of the Spirit’s beauty in the restoration of all things.

The Holy Spirit in Mission by Gary Tyra

“The Holy Spirit in Mission” is a must-read for understanding the life of the Sprit in living the mission. Many in the reformed camp understand that the Spirit brings enlightenment and sanctification but the conversation comes to a halt in regards to the Spirit’s empowering work for mission in the local church. It holds together the spirit enlightening and empowering.

Surprised by the Power of the Spirit by Jack Deere

I haven’t read this one in awhile, but “Surprised by the Power of the Spirit” was a bomb-shell in the evangelical world when it first came out. It’s a story about what caused a former Dallas Theological Seminary professor to believe that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit are still active today.

The Counselor: Straight Talk About the Holy Spirit from a 20th Century Prophet by A.W. Tozer

As the title indicates, this is straight talk about the Holy Spirit from a man who was undoubtedly a great 20th century prophet. Before there were tweets, Tozer penned one of the most tweetable books on the Holy Spirit, packed full of wonderfully crafted one-liners all about Him and His presence.

The Spirit-Filled Church by Terry Virgo

Even if you don’t agree with him, “The Spirit-Filled Church” is essential reading – inviting us to experience biblically grounded, Church-based, mission-empowered articulations of the role of the Spirit in the Church.

Other works include: Miracle Work by Jordan Seng, Joy Unspeakable by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Light of Truth & Fire of Love by Gary D. Badcock, God’s Indwelling Presence by James M. Hamilton Jr., The Annointed Community by Gary M. Burge, Thinking in Tongues by James K.A. Smith, The Holy Spirit: In Biblical Teaching through the Centuries, and Today by Anthony C. Thiselton


Join Me In Louisville At The Hope Conference

hope_conference_simmons_collegeFor three days next month, I’m excited to have Sojourn Community Church partner with faith, community, business, and political leaders across Louisville for a conference called HOPE (Having Only Positive Expectations) 2014: Renewing Urban America.

HOPE was conceived by Dr. Kevin W. Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Church and president of Simmons College of Kentucky. It’s about experiencing and championing hope in the face of disgusting racism, despairing poverty and distressed neighborhoods. This conference will:

“address and offer practical, life-altering solutions to the critical issues felt within urban communities. Urban communities, more than ever, are feeling the plight of abandonment, social isolation, disinvestment, and neglect. Dr. Cosby and his team of dreamers and visionaries were convinced that this needed to change, and the groups to change it were faith-based.”

Kevin Cosby is a pioneer in bold declaration, whose heart bleeds for the west end in particular and Louisville at large. I’ll be leading a workshop on faithful presence and, and preaching on Friday. And our Midtown Worship Pastor Brooks Ritter will be mixing it up with St. Stephens Worship Leader Jason Clayborn.

It’s an honor to be invited to participate. Join us June 12 – 14 at St Stephen Church. Come to this conference if you care about the inner-city, if you care about poverty, if you care about seeing the end to racism and it’s effects on the Church, neighborhoods, and the city. Come if you want to be challenged and inspired to step into the mess of holistic ministry, a ministry that we are called to as ambassadors of Christ. Register here.

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