Counseling & Preaching

I probably spend 15-20 hours a week preparing messages. And 8-10 in pastoral counseling and visitation.

Sometimes I wish I could counsel less so I could prepare more; other times I wish I could prepare less so I could visit more.

But as I have thought about that dynamic in recent weeks, I have come to realize that the two activities are in fact inseparable. Pastoral counseling shows me the kinds of issues with which people in the church and community struggle. That in turn shapes the content and direction of my preaching. read more

The Big In The Small

Frances Havergal said this: “Faithfulness to principle is only proved by faithfulness in detail.”

Think about that.

How applicable to the life of a pastor.

I may believe in the principle of servanthood, but am I faithful to the detail of helping with Room In The Inn or at the Charlotte Rescue Mission? read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five (Or Eight) Things I Didn’t Learn In Seminary

Thirty-one Septembers ago, in the year of our Lord 1987, I started classes at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.

While I loved my three years there, I realize now there are some pretty important things I didn’t learn there.

Or . . . I wasn’t paying attention when these things were taught. read more

The Curse Of Knowledge

In Made To Stick, Chip and Dan Heath talk about the “Curse Of Knowledge.”

It goes like this:

Once you know something, you forget what it’s like not to know that thing. That’s so true. And especially applicable to the world of faith and church. Once you know the bible stories, you forget what it’s like not to know them. Once you know the passion and the logic of the gospel, you forget what it’s like not to know it. Once you know the church’s music, rituals, and customs, you forget what it’s like not to know them. Once you know the rhythms and quirks of a specific congregation, you forget what it’s like not to know them. As pastors, one of our jobs is to step outside the curse of knowledge so that we can explain the gospel, the bible, and the church to people who don’t know what we know. As leaders, we need to step outside the curse of knowledge as we orient people to the unique culture of our work places and our congregations.

Transformation Through Life Groups & Bible Studies

Podcast CliffsNotes? Really?

Yes, it’s true. Sometimes you’re in an office without access to earbuds; other times you just prefer to read. If you don’t have time to listen to my entire podcast with Jim Cowart, this post is for you.

Jim and I are graduates of Asbury Seminary and we’re both Abingdon Authors. I read Jim’s book, Grab, Gather, Grow, and implemented some of his teachings at Good Shepherd Church. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Memories Of Working At The USTA

With the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament starting this week, it’s time to wax nostalgic about my time working for the organization that puts on the event.


From 1985 – 1987, I worked in the New Jersey office of the United States Tennis Association, the not-for-profit body that puts on the final of the tennis year’s four major events, currently underway in Flushing, NY. read more

Fresh Start, Week 3 — The “Fresh Water” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message was to set the table for this:

Planned baptisms followed by the spontaneous variety, all leading to a morning where, as Shane Bishop says, the church feels more like a movement than an organization.

And in what is perhaps the least coincidental coincidence of them all, after preaching this message involving the Ethiopian from Acts 8 and towards the end of the baptismal celebration at the 11:30 service, who came forward for baptism? read more

Fresh Start, Week 3 — Fresh Water Sunday

We’ve had The Freshest Start.

And then Fresh StartS.

Then, this Sunday, it’s Fresh Water Sunday.

I believe we’re going to see a whole lot of this:

Will you prepare for this celebration by reading Acts 8:26-40?  And then prepare even more by praying it will not be merely a worship service but a genuine movement of God? read more

The World’s Worst Question To Ask In #BibleStudy

Something about this image strangely warms the heart of those of us involved in leading, attending, or even supplying curricula for bible study:

With bibles open, group members sit in circles & not rows, and share their lives together through encounters with Scripture.

Yet there is one question that can ruin even the spiritual serenity of that scene: read more

That Time I Got Prayed For By A Roomful Of Students …

This is one of my new favorite photos of all time:

Where?  When? Why?

In the Living Room at Good Shepherd.

Last Sunday night, at the conclusion of an “Ask Talbot Any Question You Want About Life, Faith, Scripture, and Culture” event.

Because we have an anointed collection of teenagers at Good Shepherd. read more