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The Learning Curve

A doctoral student analyzed the preaching of John Bisagno not long before his retirement from 30 years as pastor of First Baptist Church of Houston. Bisagno had intentionally changed his preaching style four times to meet the changing needs of his congregation—from evangelistic to doctrinal, then expository, and finally to a conversational style espoused by Rick Warren.

We asked what other intentional changes pastors make in the course of their ministry.

A plan to pray

A dozen years ago, I found a simple way to make prayer prominent in my weekly schedule. Our family had been going to the Rocky Mountains on vacation every summer for 25 years. Each summer, my wife gave me a half day to seek a quiet trail for a solo prayer retreat. It was always a renewing venture in the high country, alone with the Lord.

Then one year I asked myself, "Why do I do this only once a year? Why not once a week, all year long?" This launched a habit that has locked prayer into my schedule amid the squeeze of pastor's ...

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