Bootcamp for Shaping Up the Gospel Preaching of Pastors

Tuesday is for Preaching

According to a LifeWay Research survey:

  • Only 6% of pastors explain the gospel clearly on a regular basis.

“Lifeway Research surveyed 450 sermons delivered in churches across the country–churches large and small, denominational and non-denominational–to see how often the Bad News and the Good News were being explained in a meaningful and understandable way. I also trained a group of “Bad News/GoodNews Knowledgeable People” from Spanish River Church in Boco Raton, Florida, where I was pastor, to do the same. These people surveyed more than 500 sermons.”

So writes Dr. David Nicholas, author of the new book Whatever Happened to the Gospel? (CrossBooks 2010, p. 3)

I have written about Dr. Nicholas’ book before. According to Nicholas and the research, “94% of pastors are presenting an incomplete picture of God’s work on our behalf through Jesus … they are presenting an incomplete, garbled and sketchy ‘gospel’ which is no gospel at all.”  Dr. Nicholas’ perspective is a slap in the face to many in the Emergent Church and their approach to both evangelism and discipleship.

“I have encountered pastors, especially younger ones, who think being logical and sequential is outdated and anti-intellectual. It’s like, ‘Hey dude, we don’t do it that way. We like to be free-flowing and tell our metanarrative in a way that feels good to us. Your way is too restricting, too formulaic.” (p. 9)

The former Senior pastor and long time mentor of church planters out of Spanish River Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Boca Raton, Florida believes that good discipleship “begins with a clear, complete, logical, sequential setting forth of the Bad News and the Good News. This is perfectly in sync with the concept that “discipleship is evangelistic before it is formative.” that I have written about elsewhere.  Foundational to what Dr. Nicholas is advocating is that the gospel, contrary to many writers today (e.g. Steve Chalke, Doug Padget, Alan Jones, Brian McLaren and many others), the gospel can be defined.

Paul did it for us in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

Unpacking what Paul said the gospel was in those verses is at the center of David Nicolas’ passion. He is convinced that the clear presentation of the gospel is being lost in our churches and after attending his two day bootcamp, I am convinced as well.

I want to join with Ed Stetzer and Darrin Patrick and highly, highly recommend the book, to any and every preacher in America. In particular, if you are planning on planting a church, get yourself to one of David’s bootcamps. The two day investment will help you to build a church on the power of the gospel to save rather than on any slippery foundation insufficiently rooted in the verities of the truth, once delivered.

Update: Shortly after I met with Dr. David Nicholas in his home as a part of one of his trainings, he died of a massive heart attack while walking his dog. I don’t know if the two day trainings are still being done but his book is still worth reading and digesting not just for preachers but for all of us.

3 thoughts on “Bootcamp for Shaping Up the Gospel Preaching of Pastors

  1. Right on my brother. I wonder sometimes how thoroughly pastors/teachers understand the Gospel? It is like they know people need Jesus so they can escape hell and go to heaven but then they fall into the trap of teaching law for living out the Christian life and for discipleship.

    Jesus is the Gospel, He is our only hope. Jesus for eternal life. Jesus for life each day.

    How many messages have we heard dear Marty in our lifetime where they say do these three steps (and none of them involve Christ/gospel) and then you will be a successful Christian?

    How about the Gospel and discipleship? Now that would be an interesting post.

    Hope to see you in December in New York, God willing.


  2. Isn’t preaching a gift of the Holy Spirit? And the Holy Spirit points always to Jesus Christ, Him crucified and resurrected. I’d conclude that any preaching that fails to head down that road of magnificent truth isn’t biblical preaching at all. I believe it was Spurgeon who said that no matter where he started his sermons, he made a bee-line to the cross. That’s a good principle to follow and one that the Holy Spirit will push us toward when we’re surrendered to Him.


    1. Amen brother. Unfortunately, many pastors think that if they just teach the Bible they are teaching the gospel. Not true. Fatally not true for the unbelievers in our audience. In fact, in many churches, people hear the gospel so infrequently and so unclearly that the danger is that they begin to act, and sound like believers before they have believed. Then they look around and think they have believed. In some ways the modern pattern of preaching helpful biblical principles for living inoculates people against saving belief in the cross.

      By the way, Dr. Nicholas’ Gospel Bootcamp is basically a primer on learning how to do what Spurgeon said he did from every text in the Bible.


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