Preaching Workshop with Larry Osborne & Chris Brown [Day 2]


I’m in California with 20 other guys, getting some intense training on preaching from Larry Osborne and Chris Brown at North Coast Church. Here are my notes from Day 2:

  • When you preach, talk about where and why the text came alive to you personally. 
  • If you give people one “A-ha” every 2-3 weeks, Christians will think you’re deep.

Know Who You are as a Preacher

  • When David went to fight Goliath, he tried to fit into armor and use weapons that he didn’t know or was used to using. 
  • A pastor needs to understand who he isn’t so he can know who he is.
  • The only successful pastor you’ll ever be is the pastor you have inside of you.
  • Look in the rearview mirror of your voice and who you are.
    • What messages or series did you knock it out of the park? What series did you love or were most passionate about? What kind of genres do you like to preach from?
  • God does not want to get rid of you. He wants to get rid of your sin nature, and change who you are, but wants to use who you are for Him.
  • Dress who you are, talk how you are. Don’t be someone else.
  • The further away you can get from who you aren’t, the more God is able to use you because you become who God created you to be.
  • When you preach, you should be able to say, “This was the best I could do under the circumstances.”
  • The most spiritual way to preach is the one that you do that is most closely to who God created you to be.


  • Write down transition sentences so that you don’t lose people. 
  • Don’t make your most important point your last point in case you run out of time.
  • At North Coast, they call their points “boulders.” Using the idea of boulders you would use to cross a river. The boulders are “jumping off points” in a sermon.
  • What people need for sermon based small groups are sound bites to come back to and jog their memory.

How to Grow a Church

  • Plant the church you would want to go to. That’s the only church you are gifted to lead and understand without checking the manual. 
  • Preach the sermon you want to hear.
    • Leadership is the art of the possible, not the ideal. Take the hill that can be taken.
  • Never confuse your calling with your potential.
    • Potential is a harsh mistress. Your calling is not tied to your potential.
    • Be all you can be is a great slogan, but a horrible way to live your life.

A Better You in Preaching

  • Brainstorming
    • Every Tuesday whoever is preaching runs sermon prep. Any staff member is able to be there. The required people are the people who write the small group questions and the communicator.
    • This is a time for people to throw out ideas and what jumps out to them about the passage.
    • Think through how this passage would be seen from a man, woman, or extrovert, introvert, businessman, reader, plumber, non-reader, new Christian, mature Christian, unchurched guy.
    • Take what works and leave what doesn’t.
    • The brainstorm takes what a communicator has and makes it better.
  • Notesheet
    • In the brainstorming, the notesheet begins to take shape.
    • The notesheet is the points, what people will fill in, take home ideas.
  • Homework
    • This is what people will do based on the message.
    • Sound bites help people with the homework or in sermon based groups. Don’t ask “What did you think of the message?”
    • If people listen, take notes and discuss it with someone else, they will know it more.
    • This makes your message more memorable.
    • Every message needs a soundbite to remember it.
  • Branding
    • This group talks through series, theme, title, and staging.
  • Having a brainstorming time, this is a great way to develop new communicators and show them how to develop a message and create the homework.
  • This is “research.”

Subliminal Messages when we Preach

  • If you put verses up on the screen, you will guarantee that people will stop bringing a Bible to church. 
    • Your brand new believer comes to church and does what everyone does. If no one brings a Bible, the new believer will not bring his.
    • They will also not learn how to read their Bible on their own.
    • If you want people to treat their Bible as a life textbook, you want them to mark their Bible up.
  • Special outreach undercut your outreach.
    • Most evangelism historically has not come because someone was trained on the 4 spiritual laws, people are saved because people say, “Come and see.”
    • If you have a special outreach event, you are telling them there are only certain times to bring friends to church.
    • Special events train your people incorrectly and scare off your guests.
    • The evangelism temperature is high in your congregation, the pastor is doing something to tell them “this is not the place to bring them.” No one has to be told to recommend a great restaurant or movie.
  • Preach to who you want to reach, not who is there.
    • Preach to believers in a way that seekers can understand.
    • Talk as if people are interested.
    • If you talk as if the room is filled with people who don’t know what you’re talking about, your people will start bringing them. Say things like, “I know a lot of you are new at this stuff.”
    • Whenever you use in house lingo, you communicate this is an in-house group.
    • Seekers are seeking, there’s nothing you have to hold back from them.
  • If you preach to men, you get everyone. If you preach to women, you get the women and kids until the kids grow up.

Why Larry Osborne stopped teaching the Bible

  • He discovered the he was faithfully teaching the Bible but he wasn’t discipling people.
  • If preaching is to proclaim the gospel and be obedient to what Jesus taught us (the great commission), something needed to change.
  • He moved towards instruction in Christian living with the Bible as his only authority.
  • Passages that we see as theology (Philippians 2 for example) is really instruction in Christian living.


  • Creativity doesn’t happen on the spot, only when a problem needs to be solved. 
  • If you want to be more creative in a message, create a problem. Messages answer questions, not solve problems.
    • Ask, “What does that look like? What do you see?” That creates a problem.
    • Ask, “How do I show people __________ (heaven or something else from Scripture)?”

Other Random Thoughts on Preaching

  • Preaching in a church is about a daily meal, not a feast or banquet.
    • If you present a banquet, it must be memorable long term.
    • The average meal is not memorable, it is healthy.
    • Real life change for your congregation is similar to life change in your life.
  • Team preaching
    • When you take a break from preaching, it helps you lead better because you see things you don’t see when thinking about preaching.
    • The other speaker needs to be 80% as good as you that you pass a week off.
    • It will kill the pride and ego of the leader.
    • Anyone who speaks, has to lead something. Don’t just hire a teacher.
  • As the church grows, the leader gets sucked to the middle. You only see what is great and is terrible.

Yesterday, the narrative peice was a great reminder. Today, the big takeaway for me was the brainstorming part and the subliminal messages.