Questions to Ask the Text

One of the challenges of Bible reading, and preaching for that matter, is that we often start with the wrong questions. As a result, we often miss the message of the passage. Even more, we miss the central themes of Scripture, and end up with something sub-biblical.

That's why I've appreciated people who have given us questions that we can ask of the text that will set us in the right direction. Here are three sets of questions. All are excellent. Use them liberally.

Haddon Robinson, Biblical Preaching

  1. What is the vision of God in this particular text?
  2. Where precisely do I find that in the passage?
  3. What is the function of this vision of God? What implications for belief or behavior did the author draw from the image?
  4. What is the significance of that picture of God for me and for others?

Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching

  1. What does the text mean?
  2. How do I know what the text means?
  3. What concerns caused the text to be written?
  4. What do we share in common with those to (or about) whom the text was written and/ or the one by whom the text was written?
  5. How should people now respond to the truths of the text?
  6. What is the most effective way I can communicate the meaning of the text?

Zack Eswine, The Imperfect Pastor

  • What does this passage show me about the loveliness of God? Or, put another way, what is it about God in this passage that calls for my love for him?
  • What does this passage show me about people and about what love requires of me on their behalf?
  • As one who has been shown mercy and love from God, what empowerment from him do I need to overcome my obstacles to love? What about the love of God in Jesus gives me hope and provision for my own lovelessness?

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

Boredom Is Not a Problem to Be Solved

Thinking is the best antidote to boredom.

Ten Commandments for Pastors

  1. Give priority to your personal communion with God.
  2. Give priority to prayer and holiness.
  3. Be bibline all your life...

5 Tips for the Leader When Conflict Develops on a Team

As a leader, one of your primary roles is developing and maintaining the health of the team. What do you do when team members aren’t getting along with each other? How should you handle conflict on a team?

10 Ways to Improve Announcements in Your Church

Here are some suggestions for doing announcements well.

9 Questions to Ask Before Leaving a Ministry

Before you make the decision to leave, consider at least these questions.


Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

The Spirituality of Fundraising

Out of all the authors to write about fundraising, Henri Nouwen may be the least likely. Nouwen was a Catholic priest, professor, and author. He wasn't evangelical, and didn't seem to be the type to care about money. Despite this, he's written one of the most helpful books on fundraising I've encountered.

The Spirituality of Fundraising isn't a how-to book. Other books fill that role, like Getting Sent and People Raising. Nouwen's book deals with the deeper and more important issues related to fundraising: issues of the heart.

The problem with fundraising isn't that we don't know what to do. The problem goes a lot deeper. We are uncomfortable speaking about money, and we feel like we're begging. We approach finances from the perspective of need rather than vision. We're intimidated by the rich, and insecure in our identity. The biggest barrier to fundraising is within ourselves.

Nouwen wants us to see that fundraising is ministry, just as much as "giving a sermon, entering a time of prayer, visiting the sick, or feeding the hungry." He wants us to see fundraising not as a burdensome chore, but as a way to proclaim "what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission." He wants us to ask for money standing up, not bending down, because we are not begging, but rather giving "giving them the opportunity to put their resources at the disposal of the kingdom." Most of all, he wants us to approach our task out of our identity in Christ, so that we are free to love others regardless of how they respond.

"From beginning to end, fundraising as ministry is grounded in prayer and undertaken in gratitude," Nouwen writes. "Prayer is the radical starting point of fundraising because in prayer we slowly experience a reorientation of all our thoughts and feelings about ourselves and others."

Near the end of this small book, Nouwen states the problem he's trying to address:

How do we become people whose security base is God and God alone? How can we stand confidently with rich and poor alike on the common ground of God’s love? How can we ask for money without pleading, and call people to a new communion without coercing? How can we express not only in our way of speaking but also in our way of being with others the joy, vitality, and promise of our mission and vision? In short, how do we move from perceiving fundraising as an unpleasant but unavoidable activity to recognizing fundraising as a life-giving, hope-filled expression of ministry?

Nouwen succeeds in answering these questions. He's the last person I would have expected to help me with fundraising, but his book is exactly what I needed. If you are raising funds for ministry, read the practical books, but read this book first.

More at

Hard Soil?

It was only a week ago that I preached a sermon that talked about people who are resistant to the gospel. I posed what I thought was a good series of questions:

How do we share the gospel in a community in which many seem to be resistant? How can we share the gospel effectively, when it sometimes feels like we’re about as welcome as the furnace telemarketer? How can we — ordinary people like us — live on mission?

It's not the first time that I've talked about people being resistant to the gospel. I've used other terms as well, like hard soil. People usually know what I mean, and I don't get many arguments about the premise that we are in a gospel-resistant culture.

At least, not until last week.

Two days after I preached this message, Gord Fleming, National Director of C2C, spoke to a group of church planters in Toronto. He spoke about the explosion of new churches in Québec, which is known to be much more resistant to the gospel than Toronto. "We believe the lie that it's hard soil," he said. "The enemy wants to defeat us." When God gives us an assignment, Satan will do everything the can to throw us off, and one of his tactics is to get us to believe that people aren't ready for the gospel. We just need to love Jesus and be obedient to the Spirit, he said, and not defeat ourselves before we begin.

Then, last Sunday, I attended Fellowship Pickering, a church plant in a suburb of Toronto. Matt Hess spoke about creating a culture of invitation. He challenged us to refuse to worry about hard soil. God is at work, he said, and we just need to follow him and trust him to work with expectation.

We shouldn't deny reality. We can look around and make tentative conclusions about our communities. At the same time, Fleming and Hess are right. Our enemy would like us to see the obstacles more than we see God's power. Let's stop coming up with reasons why God can't work, and let's pray and obey with expectancy. God happens to specialize in what we tend to identify as hard soil.

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

The Worst Church Plant Strategy of All Time!

This way of discipleship will probably never get the credit it deserves or the press it needs.

Why Knowing Your Flock Is Critical to Meaningful Preaching

The ministry of preaching cannot be divorced from the ministry of soul care; in fact, preaching is an extension of soul care. There are a host of reasons why it’s important for pastors who want to preach meaningfully to know their flocks as well as they can, but here are three of the most important.

God Didn’t Call You To Be a Super-Pastor

What might the church look like if we pushed back, in a truly counter-cultural way, against the rampant independence and consumerism and killed the “Super-Pastor” by equipping the saints, doing ministry together, and the pastor fading into the background?

8 Reasons Some Pastors Aren’t Ready to Lead through Revitalization

I’m not convinced every pastor is ready to lead through a revitalization effort. Here’s why.

Thoughts on Note-Taking During Sermons

I want them to see preaching in the worship service not as a lecture or as primarily an educational transmission to their minds, but as prophetic proclamation and as primarily aimed at their hearts.

The Two People Every Organization Needs

Every organization, whether it’s a business or a non-profit, needs at least two types of leaders to find sustainability.


Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.