Russell Moore: What I’ve Learned in 20 Years of Ministry

“We are to be separate from sin, never separate from sinners. It is far easier to do the reverse.”

18. My worst sermons have been those that were targeted first at the intellect or the will. My best sermons have been those that were targeted first at the imagination (“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”).

19. I keep notes of encouragement that have come through over the years—from everyone from my wife to random strangers. My Bible is filled with these, and some of them are even framed. This ought to, and sadly doesn’t as much as it should, remind me not to assume encouragement and appreciation but to express it. Sometimes I think I don’t because I fear it will sound awkward. But it’s never once been awkward for me to receive it, and I should remember that.

20. When I preached every week at a church in Louisville, Kentucky, I would end every service with the same benediction, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-5, 14). I read that passage because I believe it sums up the whole of the Bible. But, more than that, I read it because I needed to hear those words, aloud, every single week. My life depends on them.

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Russell Moore is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, a widely-sought cultural commentator and author of several books including Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel (B&H Books, 2015). This article was originally published on Moore’s blog at