Start2Finish Books & the Local Church

Editor's Note: Today's guest post is by Matthew "Happy" Hiatt. He's been a great supporter of my writing, and I was particularly blessed when he shared with me how he uses my books in his ministry. I thought it was a terrific idea, and encouraged him to guest blog for me so that you could know about it also. Thanks, Happy! - mcw

One perpetual preaching problem (besides our permanent predisposition to perpetual alliteration, much to the people’s perturbation) – is the fact that preachers begin to think like preachers!

Sometimes when we approach a text, we get caught up in questions that, if we’re honest, nobody else cares about! Or even if they have some significance, they aren’t the issues that make or break our people spiritually. If that’s not the problem, we tend to assume everyone thinks like us, but not everyone in our church is a 20-something young man!

Michael’s books have helped me with this problem. He asked me to share with you what I’ve been doing.

I just wrapped up a sermon series on the book of Daniel. Do you remember anybody writing a book about that recently? That’s right, Derision of Heaven! I didn’t preach through Michael’s book, but I used it as a major resource as I prepared my lessons.

I bought three extra copies of the book and handed them out to three very different members of the congregation. I gave one copy to a single lady, one to an upper middle-aged man who just lost his wife, and another to an elderly brother who is a retired minister. I asked all three of them to read the book independently with a pen and highlighter, and get back in touch with me with some notes. I asked them to pay particular attention to…

  • What stood out to them? What was most interesting?
  • What was most helpful?
  • What do you think people most need to hear?

Their comments were really helpful. They saw things I had totally missed, and as a result, I was able to incorporate some of those thoughts into the sermons to help connect with some people I otherwise would have missed. Also, it gave them a sense of “ownership” in the sermon series, and helped them feel a little more connected to what was going on.

I’m on round two of this experiment. We just began a men’s class on 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and I’ve purchased a few copies of the book to give to different men in the class. This time the assignment is a little bit different: read and study, and be ready to share one “thing I learned” with the group each week. I’m expecting that to be a pretty good conversation starter in the class.

I’m grateful for how we’ve been able to use Michael’s material to make our sermon and class time richer than I could have done on my own. I’d really suggest you give it a whirl!

If you’ve got any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!

— Matthew Hiatt

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