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Welcome to the Home of Cross-Tethered Preaching

My passion is helping pastors preach the fullness of God's grace by tethering every message to the cross of the risen and reigning Jesus.

If you're a pastor or teacher looking to make progress with your preaching ministry, I'd love to connect to see how I can help you take practical, actionable next steps.

Use the contact button below to set up a no-obligation conversation about where you are versus where you'd like to be in your preaching and teaching ministry. It would be an honor to hear from you and a joy to help.

25 Simple Ways to Improve Your Sermon This Sunday
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After almost 30 years of preaching and now teaching homiletics in seminary, I'd like to share 25 simple ways you can improve your sermon this Sunday.

Yes, this Sunday.

While these concepts and the system behind them are explained in much more detail in the PPGR Preaching System, you'll find plenty of helpful nuggets among the twenty-five described in this short ebook.

When you're ready, feel free to check out the complete preaching system.

You will get a PDF (4MB) file

👋 Hi, I'm McKay!

I served as a local church pastor and planter for over twenty-six years and understand the unique pain points of a preaching ministry.

For some of us, sermon stress is an ever-present emotional weight.

Every week, we're expected to craft a fresh, focused, well-organized message filled with expository acumen, theological depth, and insightful, relevant, practical application delivered with clarity and energy that keeps folks from looking at the clock.

But we also have leadership meetings, visitor follow-ups, hospital calls, counseling appointments, and more.

And most of us have families who appreciate a bit of our attention, too. 😉

Pastors do far more than preach on Sundays. But we don't do less.

I get what it's like to work on a sermon all week, only to be up at 1:00 am on Saturday night, still struggling with the message.

When I transitioned from a preaching pastor to a theology and homiletics professor, I created the sermon prep and delivery system I wish I'd had thirty years ago.

Not just a system, but a system that helps pastors save time crafting focused, clear, biblical, redemptive (cross-tethered) messages that result in distinctively grace-motivated, Spirit-empowered application.

Thanks to homiletical influences like Bryan Chapell and Tim Keller, I didn't have to start from scratch. 🙂

In case you're interested, it's called the PPGR Preaching System.

By the way, I've been married to Kristy for 31 years, with whom I have three adult children, 28, 26, and 20. ‌I also hold a B.A. in history/literature, an M.Div., a D.Min. in gospel renewal, and a Ph.D. in homiletics. When I'm not writing or teaching, I love being at home or walking the wooded, creek-crossed trails of the north Georgia mountains.

My Passion

Three Core Doctrines

Theological Foundations

Three Ways I Can Help

Free Content

The Cross-Tethered Newsletter contains a deep well of valuable, practical, and helpful resources that will help you take a step forward toward improving this Sunday's sermon. You'll learn principles and receive tools that will help with both message preparation as well as delivery.

Subscribe for free, weekly preaching helps.

The Online Course

The PPGR Preaching System is designed to help you save time with a step-by-step guide to creating substantive, redemptive sermons that expound a biblical text, address a problem with the human condition, connect the message explicitly to the cross, and provide relevant, grace-motivated, and Spirit-empowered application.

1:1 Coaching

While the PPGR Preaching System provides a wealth of practical help for taking a step-by-step approach to crafting distinctively redemptive, cross-tethered sermons, I find that pastors are able to master the system much more quickly with personal coaching. If you're interested, let's connect and see if 1:1 coaching could help you.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Christology 101—Five Things to Know About Jesus in Order to Really Know Jesus
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I tell my seminary students that when we gather for class, our goal is not merely to know about Jesus. Our goal is to know Jesus personally and directly. To that end, Christology 101 introduces you to five things every Christian should know about Jesus in order to really know Jesus.

Each short chapter includes discussion questions for family devotions and small group study.

21 pages

You will get a PDF (12MB) file

Recent Posts from the Cross-Tethered Newsletter

How to Motivate Change with the Gospel vs the Law
One of the most challenging aspects of gospel-centered preaching is motivating change with the gospel rather than with the law.Pastor's typically know how to talk about justifying grace.However, we struggle to communicate sanctifying grace.We know th...
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Living as a Son Before Serving as a Pastor
Pastors receive more criticism than encouragement. We see our faults more than our gifts. We may hear the Accuser more than the Validator. Maybe more than anyone, we need to hear the welcoming voice of a smiling Father. We need to live as sons before...
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The Power of Word Studies for Developing Keywords for PPGR Sermon Prep
In this video, I want to show how word studies can add gas to the fire of sermon prep using the PPGR Preaching System.
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Tasting the Grace of Wisdom (Another PPGR Example)
Cross-Tethered Preaching is a ministry devoted to helping pastors and teachers preach the fullness of God's grace by tethering every message to the cross of the risen and reigning Jesus.This is another short example of the PPGR preaching system, whic...
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The Big Differece a Small Preposition Makes in the Definition of Repentance
In Mark 1:15, Jesus' begins his public ministry by stating, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel."In this single statement, Jesus claims all Old Testament prophecies about the long-awai...
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The Dual Proclamation of the Cross & How Moral Superiority and Spiritual Insecurity are Red Flags for Acute Spiritual Danger
In this video, I want to share with you one of the most profound discoveries of my Christian life.Nothing criticizes me more personally and deeply than the cross (law). At the same time, nothing validates me more completely and unreservedly than the ...
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The Better Way (A PPGR Example)
Below is an example of how to use the PPGR Preaching System to save time crafting focused, clear messages that are rooted in a specific text, address a problem with the human condition, tether the text and theme to the cross, and provide redemptive a...
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Practice the Focused Four (VIDEO)
Cross-Tethered Preaching is devoted to helping pastors preach the fullness of God’s grace in Jesus. Subscribe for free, weekly preaching helps.I want to share what I've learned about the power of the Focused Four.A study of the most productive c...
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Jesus Was a Friend of Sinners? (VIDEO)
Below is an example of how to use the PPGR Preaching System to save time crafting focused, clear messages that are rooted in a specific text, address a problem with the human condition, tether the text and theme to the cross, and provide re...
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The Sanctifying Power of Simple Reminders (VIDEO)
Below is an example of how to use the PPGR Preaching System to save time crafting focused, clear messages that are rooted in a specific text, address a problem with the human condition, tether the text and theme to the cross, and provide redemptive a...
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Fighting the Good Fight (VIDEO)
Below is an example of how to use the PPGR Preaching System to save time crafting focused, clear messages that are rooted in a specific text, address a problem with the human condition, tether the text and theme to the cross, and provide re...
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The Priority and Progress of Preaching (VIDEO)
Below is an example of how to use the PPGR Preaching System to save time crafting focused, clear messages that are rooted in a specific text, address a problem with the human condition, tether the text and theme to the cross, and provide re...
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A Pastor's Unexpected Primary Example (VIDEO)
Below is an example of how to use the PPGR Preaching System to save time crafting focused, clear messages that are rooted in a specific text, address a problem with the human condition, tether the text and theme to the cross, and provide re...
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The Essential Disposition of God Toward His Children
Below is an example of how to use the PPGR Preaching System to save time crafting focused, clear messages that are rooted in a specific text, address a problem with the human condition, tether the text and theme to the cross, and provide re...
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Who Should and Shouldn't Aspire to the Office of Elder
Below is an example of how to use the PPGR Preaching System to save time crafting focused, clear messages that are rooted in a specific text, address a problem with the human condition, tether the text and theme to the cross, and provide re...
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What I Learned from Twitter/X About Crafting Sermons (VIDEO)
In this post, we go behind the scenes to the eureka moment that led to the secret sauce of the PPGR Preaching System.It actually began as an experiment.I wanted to see if it were possible to craft a complete sermon narrative with all four movements w...
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Think Movement vs Main Points (VIDEO)
When creating your next sermon, I want you to consider thinking movement versus main points.This is important because so many of us are used to thinking in main points when crafting a sermon, which could be a challenging obstacle to overcome.Preachin...
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Bathe the Process in Prayer (VIDEO)
It should be obvious, but the sermon prep process is not merely a human endeavor.We believe that the Holy Spirit is actively working in and through us as we craft our messages and deliver them.Or do we?I have a confession.When I was a young preacher,...
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Invite Listeners to Receive Jesus (VIDEO)
I want to share a brief story about something significant I learned about inviting listeners to respond to the gospel and receive Jesus as Savior and as Lord, King, and Treasure.It was a few years ago at an Easter service. After preaching, I stepped ...
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The Heart of the Gospel: You'll Want to Weave This Into Every Sermon
Below is another example sermon outline created with the PPGR Preaching System. Keyword: heartP) The heart of the gospel is substitution—"the righteous for the unrighteous" (1 Peter 3:18).P) When our preaching neglects this focus, folks may b...
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Two of the Most Important Sentences in Your Sermon (VIDEO)
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What Makes a Sermon Genuinely Gospel-Centered? (VIDEO)
Just like overused tires may get worn and lose their gripping power, words may become so overused that they no longer retain the tread with which they were originally created.Consider, for example, the word awesome. In view of the truly awesome (awe-...
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Two Ways to Teach: They're Not Equals
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What If Reducing Sermon Length Increases Sermon Impact? (VIDEO)
There are several core philosophical principles I emphasize with the pastors I coach.Simplicity is better than complexity,Clarity is better than confusion, andLess is often more.This is to say, for most of us, reducing sermon length will increase ser...
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How to Implement the Audiobook Preaching Principle (VIDEO)
If you listen to audiobooks, online videos, or any other spoken content, you probably know you may adjust the listening speed from the normal 1.0 setting to 1.25, 1.5, or even 2.0.To understand the audiobook preaching principle, listen to an audiobo...
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The PPGR Preaching System not only saves you time in sermon prep by giving you a step-by-step guide for the process, but it also enables you to craft remarkably clear, focused messages that magnify God's grace in Jesus by expounding the biblical text, addressing the human condition, tethering the passage, theme, and problem to the cross, and providing responsive, redemptive application that is grace-motivated and Spirit-empowered.

Click the "Learn More" button below for information about how the PPGR Preaching System could be a game changer for your sermon preparation and delivery.

What Friends are Saying about the PPGR Preaching System

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The PPGR system is now my go-to way to craft all kinds of talks. Not only for my talks, but I train dozens of other pastors in the system, too. And they love it! Thanks, McKay!

— David Taylor

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Simply put, the PPGR system has revolutionized my preaching, reshaping my sermon structure in a way that allows each element to build on the previous. Not only have I received a lot of positive feedback, I see the work of the Spirit in the lives of those who worship with us.

— Nate Berry

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The PPGR system is an invaluable asset, providing a robust sermon structure that ensures each message is grounded distinctively in the gospel and tethered to the cross.

— David Kim

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A tremendously helpful resource. Working through the PPGR points helps me get to the heart of what I want to communicate. And what a blessing it is to me as a preacher to be led to the Cross again so that I can help my hearers do the same.

— Adam Tisdale

The Cross-Tethered Newsletter

The Cross-Tethered Newsletter is a free, weekly email delivered to your inbox with practical, actionable tips and suggestions designed to help pastors preach the fullness of God’s grace in Jesus in a way that is exceptionally focused and clear, rooted to the text of Scripture, tethered to the cross of Jesus, and applied in a way that is grace-motivated and Spirit-empowered.

Subscribe for free, weekly preaching helps.

I Am Not the Christ: Pastoral Identity in View of the Cross

Birthed from a combination of deep theological reflection and twenty-six years of pastoral experience as an assistant pastor, lead pastor, and church planter who served in cities, suburbs, a farming community, and a small college town, I am Not the Christ is full of practical application that aims to give pastors renewed joy in their calling as ambassadors of grace by helping them tether all of life and ministry to the cross of the risen and reigning Jesus.

142 pages

"Wise, candid, and eminently readable. There is guidance here for every pastor."

- Dr. Dan Doriani, Author and Professor, Covenant Seminary

Available as an eBook and in paperback.

The Mustard Seed Blog

Sometimes We Need a Clear, Convincing, Undeniable Visual Reminder
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Galatians: Navigating Life in View of the Cross
Paul’s message to the church in Galatia serves as a gospel compass for navigating life with the cross of the risen and reigning Jesus as our focus and guide. NOTE: This post originally appeared on the New Growth Press Blog on January 8, 2024.There a...
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What If Jesus Isn't the Reason for the Season?
During a visit to the dry cleaners one early December, a festive banner caught my eye. Displayed prominently in the front window, it proclaimed in bright red and green letters: "Jesus is the Reason for the Season!"While I understand the motive behin...
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How Two Small Letters Can Awaken Gratitude
This past Sunday, my friend, Rich Good, made a statement in his sermon that I can't shake.Not that I want to shake it.But you know how there are things you hear that keep pinging around in your head.In a message on living with a posture of thankfulne...
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The Subtle Danger of Celebrating Thanksgiving
My late friend, Dave McCarty, sent an email to friends several years ago with the heading, “The Thanksgiving holiday is dangerous.”That was an email I had to open.How could turkey, dressing, sweet potato casserole, and chocolate chess pie be harmful ...
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What If I Don't Love Jesus?
There is a lake in the northern part of our county where I enjoy walking. Surrounded by mountains, it's a beautiful place to slow down, pray, listen, and just be. Recently, on a journey around the three-quarter-mile footpath, I question entered my mi...
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You Don't Have to Wear Saul's Armor
The description “one size fits all” is rarely true.It doesn’t work with gloves, shoes, shirts, or pants. Even caps, wristwatches, belts, and other accessories need some adjustment for a proper fit.The same is true with pastoral ministry. This is espe...
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Christology 101 (Part 5): The Glory and Wonder of the Hypostatic Union
Historic statements of faith, such as the Apostles’ Creed, affirm the angels' message to Joseph in Matthew 1, saying Jesus was “conceived by the Holy Spirit.”This is to say, Jesus' birth was utterly unique among all human births.In theology, we call ...
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Christology 101 (Part 4): Delighting in the Lordship of the Creator-King
When we speak of Jesus as Lord, we're talking about his reign as the eternal Creator-King.As the Apostle Paul writes, "For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or author...
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Christology 101 (Part 3): The Role of the Son in the Plan of Redemption
As the Son of God, Jesus plays a unique role in God's plan of redemption.This plan is outlined clearly by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1:3-14, where God the Father chooses a people to adopt unto sonship, God the Son redeems them with blood, and God ...
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Christology 101 (Part 2): The Theological Significance of Jesus' Messianic Title
The main character in the Scriptures, as well as all human history, is Jesus Christ.Since people today typically have a first and last name, we might assume that Jesus is his first name and Christ is his last name.However, until about the 10th centur...
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Christology 101 (Part 1): What’s in a Name? More Than You May Think.
In the ancient world, names often were ripe with meaning. For example, before his name change, the Hebrew meaning of Abram's was exalted father, which seemed a tragic irony in that he was old and had no children.However, in the LORD's covenant w...
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Four Simple Ways to Improve Sermon Delivery
Sermon content is more important than sermon delivery. So, why pay attention to delivery? Because taking simple steps to improve delivery can be a means to more effectively communicate the content of the gospel as kindling for the Spirit to ignite.He...
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From Throwing Stones to Showing Mercy
For Christians to be salt and light (i.e., a gospel influence for the kingdom of God) in a post-Christian culture, we must put down our rocks.The rock-throwing “Christian” is not only a misnomer and a bad look, it’s a fundamentally hypocritical postu...
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When I Feel Like I’ve Blown It for the Last Time, This Helps
Sometimes an awareness of my remaining sinfulness makes me feel so far from the Father. Despised. Worthy of rejection. I try to preach the cross to myself. But sometimes the voice of condemnation in my head is too strong and I despair. For some reaso...
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Ugly Orthodoxy: How to Identify, Confess, and Rebeautify
Francis Schaeffer said, “There is nothing uglier than [Christian] orthodoxy without… compassion.” When I reflect on my own lack of compassion toward those with whom I differ or disagree, I confess that it stems from the absence of humility. And ...
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Give Weakness Evangelism a Try
Charles Spurgeon described evangelism as “one beggar showing another beggar where they found bread.”While it’s true that once a beggar takes and eats of the bread of life, they are no longer a beggar, but royalty—adopted into the family of King Jesus...
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10 Ways to Reflect the Heart of Jesus as the Light of the World
“You are the light of the world.” — Matthew 5:15In addition to calling his disciples the salt of the earth in Matthew 5, Jesus calls them “the light of the world.”For starters, it is important to remember that they/we/believers are not the source of ...
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Christian Influence in a Post-Christian World Will Need to be Uniquely Salty
“You are the salt of the earth.” — Jesus, in Matthew 5:13Christian influence in a “post-Christian” world should be the same as in a “pre-Christian” context.As Jesus says in Matthew 5:13, his disciples are “the salt of the earth.” What does this mean?...
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Special Video Post: How Rediscovering the Grandeur of God's Grace Changes Us
Much appreciation to Serge and Jim Lovelady for the opportunity to be a guest on the Grace at the Fray podcast to discuss how discovering (and rediscovering) the grandeur of the gospel changes us.____________________“Prepare to be enlightened, challe...
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Three Characteristics of the Mustard Seed Kingdom (with Three Implications)
Of all the topics Jesus addressed in the gospels, the most prominent is the kingdom of God, or kingdom of heaven.Considering that emphasis, we can say that the kingdom of God serves as a thematic, theological umbrella under which everything else is t...
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Do We Really Believe God Hears (and Acts Upon) Our Prayers?
“Ask and it will be given to you.” - Matthew 7:7Prayer is a gift and privilege, not merely a duty or obligation. Through Jesus, we have direct access to speak with and make requests of God as our Abba Father.This privilege is clear in Scripture, such...
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Your Inner Pharisee is Showing: 4 Ways to Diagnose and Dismantle the Burden
“Everything they do is done for people to see.” - Matthew 23:5The Pharisees would have loved social media.The opportunity to carefully curate an idealized version of their life would fit perfectly with Jesus' evaluation in Matthew 23:5, "Everything t...
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Jesus Doesn't Accept Donations
“Jesus answered, 'Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me.'" — John 13:8bYears ago, a church I served on staff hosted a community car wash. Since lots of these events are fundraisers for sports teams or mission trips, we wanted to leverage t...
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How to Pray When You Don't Have the Words
"In my distress, I called upon the Lord; to my God, I cried for help." — Psalm 18:6aWhen you read the Psalms, one thing that stands out is how often God's people find themselves in distress.The Hebrew word translated distress (צָרָה, tsarah) in Psalm...
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Available from New Growth Press!

I'm excited for churches, small groups, families, and individual believers to get access to this new resource published by New Growth Press as Serge's latest addition to their Gospel-Centered Life in the Bible series.

👉 Order Here

"McKay Caston’s pastoral experience and understanding of the blessings of grace are well on display in this study."

Bryan Chapell, Pastor, Author, former President, Covenant Theological Seminary

“McKay Caston makes deep theological truths easy to understand and gives great application for believers at any stage of their spiritual walk.”

Laura Story, Grammy Award Winning Christian Singer/Songwriter

“What a wonderful resource for anyone wanting to take a deeper step into the wondrous riches of the gospel of grace!"

Jeff Norris, Senior Pastor, Perimeter Church, Atlanta

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Six Ways to Preach a Better Sermon This Sunday