Big Idea Sermons Author Q&A

Andy Whisenant | Oct 14th

What prompted you to write Big Idea Sermons?

The desire to impact pastors in the urban community and not just graduate from seminary and become a pastor began when I was a juvenile probation officer during my days at Dallas Theological Seminary. I saw the pain and hurt of many young people in communities across the Dallas area while there were churches everywhere. I tried meeting with many of the pastors only to find out that many of them had minimal training and they had to work full time jobs to sustain their families. This led me to work at the College of Biblical Studies Houston, which has a commitment to minister to pastors who are already pastoring and desire training while working full time jobs. The same passion led me to work at The Urban Alternative where I served as the National Director of Outreach, responsible for the pastor’s conferences, pastor’s fellowships in eight cities around the country and church and community development. This process of God maturing what He started in me led to planting Living Word Fellowship Church in the Acres Homes community where most of the areas  are not much different than the projects in Dallas. As a result of all the above and more, Power Walk Ministries was birthed with a vision is to assist pastors for the same reason that God touched my heart as a probation officer. It is as a result of this passion that this book was written.

Many of us in the United States are blessed with pastors who had easy access to seminary training and who now only work one job. But you’ve had the opportunity to minister to pastors around the world for whom that’s not the case. How do you hope this book helps pastors like that?

As pastors recline to prepare a message, after being pulled in numerous directions, this resource will prayerfully help pastors prepare dynamic sermons by providing solid information as they carve out the message God influences and inspires their hearts to deliver. It will also engage them in producing impactive introductions with doctrinally sound sermon outlines, relevant background information, some Greek and Hebrew references, and illustrations that will prayerfully linger in the hearts of their congregation. Hopefully this will release the pressure of trying to figure what to preach, where to start, and in what direction they believe God is leading them preach and teach their congregants or Sunday school class.

What has been your experience with pastors, and how did they shape how you approached this book?

When I started Living Word Fellowship Church, I was working and pastoring. Even though I had been trained it was still difficult to balance home life, work, and church. To be an attentive husband, loving father, and effective, caring pastor was draining mentally, emotionally, and physically. Coming to my study and selecting what to preach was not as easy as many may think. It is not just selecting a passage; it’s understanding what direction God wants me to go in leading the congregation that year. Questions such as “what is the theme for the year?” “what is the series for the next eight weeks?” “how does this series build on the last one and will it tie into the next one?” all demand time, prayer, and meditation while still having leaders to train, families to counsel, and Bible Study lessons to complete. Thinking of all this that I had to go through with training quickly helped me to relate to the many pastors God blessed me to serve.

Most pastors that I have worked with either at the Bible College, The Urban Alternative, or Power Walk struggled with the same issues. These issues stimulated much frustration that was many times buried because they were still seeking to love their wives and children as well as be sensitive to the growing needs of their congregants. It was frustrating as well because they knew their potential as a pastor but some Sundays felt they had missed the mark after they poured their hearts out to preach the message they were confident God placed on their hearts.

Providing this book not only empowers pastors to do a good job in the pulpit but it also releases daily frustrations which in turn strengthens them as they serve their families and churches.

Why is it so important that pastors preach biblically faithful, theologically sound, Christ-centered sermons?

Christ has designed the church to be “the pillar and support of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). It is the truth that empowers believers to grow spiritually because they are not stubbing their lives (2 Peter 1:3-11) as they overcome daily struggles (John 8:32), and can walk each day with the ability to make good decisions as they completely solve issues since the truth illuminates (John 14:16-17; 16:13). The truth is one of the purposes for which the Holy Spirit is placed in our lives; this is why He reminds us of the Word of God (John 14:26). Making sure the information is biblically sound is not just a calling (2 Timothy 4:1-5); it must always be our passion (1 Timothy 4:15-16). This is why this book takes time to analyze each verse within its context and seek to delineate the purpose of each passage. 1 Peter 4:17 reminds us that if this process is not accomplished in the church “what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” This is because the church is “the pillar and support of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). When the main pillar is removed from the church, there is no hope for the world and believers are unable to daily experience the “abundant life” Christ came to provide (John 10:10). Truth is the core to experiencing the life Christ died to provide (John 14:6). This book is written with a deep commitment to this purpose.

How do you hope pastors and Bible teachers grow from using this resource?

Since this book is written to reach working pastors and leaders or pastors and teachers who do not have a lot of training, it is our hope that it equips them not just to preach or teach but to understand the Word of God more intricately.

It is our prayer that it would reduce their frustrations as they come to prepare the message, refresh their love for God’s Word, and inspire passion in their delivery and their commitment to see believers grow in their love for God.