Published February 2, 2006
PastorLife is a tremendous resource for preachers who desire to preach inspirational, informational and well-illustrated sermons. This highly effective tool for ministers is now available as a free service to all who are interested in honing their communication skills. There is no longer a subscription rate, no password necessary and no restrictions for using pastorlife.org.
PastorLife, originally called SermonCity, was founded in 2000 and launched in 2001. The genesis of the site began in the heart of Mike Minnix, a Southern Baptist pastor for more than 30 years and recent vice president for evangelism for the Georgia Baptist Convention. Minnix presented his idea for a website specifically designed for Baptist ministers to GBC Executive Director J. Robert White and received a warm and positive response.
An idea with merit
White, concluding that the idea had merit, promised support from the Convention and asked Minnix to fully develop the website and serve as its editor. The site was designed to provide sermon helps, illustrations, articles and other information that conform to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 of the Southern Baptist Convention.
PastorLife currently has more than 1,500 illustrations and 1,100 sermons and is being expanded daily.
Minnix stated, “I know that preachers are required to do a lot of reading to prepare sermons. At PastorLife we are simply offering an on-line library featuring some of the best Bible commentaries and preaching material to be found anywhere.”
Years ago Vance Havner, beholding the number of cassette tapes of sermons being sold at Bible conferences, said, “Once preachers were known as bookworms, but now they have become tapeworms.” More recently, it could be stated that many preachers have become “websiteworms.” Obviously, there is a wealth of information on the Internet and PastorLife has become for many a valuable source of information.
Minnix explained, “To my knowledge there is no other state convention or SBC website like PastorLife that is fully supported by the denomination, and we are pleased to be able to make it available at no cost to those who wish to use it. Furthermore, we have some great preachers who have contributed to this on-line library including: John Bisagno, Jimmy Draper, Foy Fish, Jesse Hendley, Junior Hill and Ken Hemphill.”
“We also have some fine Georgia Baptist pastors who have contributed excellent sermons to PastorLife,” continued Minnix.
Rick Hancock of the Maryland/Delaware Baptist Convention wrote Minnix to express his appreciation for PastorLife. He commented, “Thanks for remembering us up here in Maryland. I will pass this site to my pastor friends in Maryland and Delaware. I think it is a great resource. Thanks for sharing it.”
Adrian Bell of First Baptist in Unadilla declared, “Wow! Thanks a million. I’m a young pastor and [PastorLife] will really help out.”
Mike Williams, assistant executive director and vice president for operations for the GBC, explained, “I have found PastorLife very helpful in testing sermon ideas that I may have on a particular passage. PastorLife is like having an additional commentary available to help research it from the perspective of respected pastors and preachers who have addressed the same passage. PastorLife is a helpful research tool.”
Williams continued, “PastorLife is also helpful in generating or affirming good sermon ideas. Pastors should be careful not to copy someone else’s material, but it is very helpful to glean fresh ideas from the best minds in the preaching field to initiate and illuminate your own study.
“The search engines featured on the site are very convenient. It is a time saver to be able to put your topic in the system, press ‘search’ and immediately pick multiple listings about your subject.”
Stephen Olford, referred to by Billy Graham as the greatest expository preacher of the 20th century, has some of his sermons on PastorLife. Before he died in the summer of 2004, Olford preached in a May chapel service at Southern Seminary. He said, “The churches in America are hemorrhaging at the rate of 50,000 souls per Sunday at the hands of a watered down Gospel that fails to enliven its hearers with a steadfast, spirit-wrought faith.”
Preaching is serious business and not something with which to be trifled. Indeed, a preacher ought to pin the seat of his pants to the seat of a chair and “study to show (himself) approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
In his book, A Practical Guide to Sermon Preparation, Jerry Vines, pastor of Jacksonville, Fla.’s First Baptist Church, writes: “Regardless of one’s past intellectual training, the preacher should spend all the days of his ministry studying and preparing himself to preach”
Vines relates the story of the young preacher who did not study diligently. He frequently bragged to his deacons that his messages were prepared between the time he left his pastorium in the morning and the time he arrived at the door of the church. No wonder his deacons bought him a new home five miles away!
Vines says, “Too much poor preaching is due to ‘suppressed perspiration.’ R. G. Lee used to say, ‘You can’t live on skim milk during the week and preach cream on Sunday.’”
PastorLife will not address all the challenges of sermon preparation, but it is designed to help and encourage preachers, especially those who in times of sickness, death or unusual demands need a helping hand toward becoming a hale and hearty “homiletician.”
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