Arguments cannot be taught from a vacuum. The preacher himself should know how to present arguments. That is why apologetics is crucial. The pastor or the Christian leader should be well-versed in Scripture. I am not talking only about memorizing scriptures and quoting them out of context. It is fundamentally important to know the background of a biblical text, the culture, context, historical, lexical, exegetical, and expository presentation of the biblical text. Most importantly bathe the presentation in prayer for the recipient to respond favorably to the word of God.
Know your Audience
One crucial factor in preaching effectively is to know your audience. When I say know your audience, I don't necessarily mean know their names as individuals. I mean know who they are as persons, their academic level, their level of maturity in Christ, and the average age of your audience. These will prove beneficial to you in your ministry. Sometimes preachers preach or teach over the heads of their congregations. In certain situations, some preachers preach and teach below the level of their audience. Therefore, these things are important for communication, persuasion, and faith development of a church.
When you are ministering to children you should use arguments in only rare cases. Children prefer audio-visuals to pros or argumentative presentation. Children also like stories that draw their attention and curiosity. However, make sure that the story is very engaging and presents Christ at the end.
In preaching or witnessing, the Bible should be the foundation. Proof-texting becomes a problem because some Christians use the Bible to back up their statements or their beliefs. However, the reverse should be the case. The Bible should be the authentic source from which we base our beliefs and statements.
All that you have stated are good. However, you have left out the most important person. The most important person is the Holy Spirit. Without His conviction and convincing the new birth will not happen. That is why we have to live in His fullness and pray for His presence to take over everything we are doing.
Furthermore, Jesus is exclusive when it comes to His claims of lordship. Therefore, preaching and sharing the gospel should be done in love and truth.
The Importance of Prayer
I believe that our world today is in trouble and chaos because many Christians have ignored the power and the effects of prayer. If prayer was not essential, Jesus would not have spent more time teaching us to pray. Furthermore, if prayer was not important, Jesus would not have spent His time praying all the time. In fact, Jesus commands or compels us to pray (Luke 18:1-8). Therefore, we have to maximize our prayers and the way we live our lives should reflect the character of Jesus.
You are not an Accident
What a testimony. I would like you to read 2 Corinthians 1:3-11. In spite of the circumstance in which every person was born, we are not in this world by accident. Michele, you are not an accident and Lizzie is not an accident. God has placed every person on earth for a purpose. Unfortunately, some allow their circumstances, family background, and their environment to paralyze them that they do not allow God to use them to touch other lives. God comforts us so that we can comfort others. We are blessed to be a blessing. We are redeemed to become a conduit of redemption to others.
God can and is willing to use any person who surrenders his/her life to Him in spite of your background, ethnicity, race, social status, and academic standing. God is going to use your motto to help you draw others to Christ.
Many Christians have memorized and quoted Jeremiah 29:11 to encourage themselves and others in times of difficulty. There is nothing wrong in using Scriptures to help or comfort others. However, the context of every biblical text is especially important. Another thing is that some biblical passages are to be used carefully because they may be conditional and limited to the Jewish people. One of such passages is Jeremiah 29:11. Jeremiah wrote this biblical text at a time when the children of Israel were in captivity in Babylon due to their rebellion against God. In fact, many of them died in captivity. Therefore, the promise in this text was limited to the remnant who would return to Jerusalem to rebuild their lives again and assume a proper form of worship of God. Therefore, we cannot claim this promise for ourselves today because it does not apply primarily to us but the returned and restored remnant of Israel.
THE SPIRIT-FILLED OR SPIRIT-LED LIFE
The Purpose Driven Life written by Rick Warren has touched and transformed many lives. The book asks the penetrating question, "Why are we here?" Where are we going? That is the meaning or purpose of life. Every person needs to answer that question in life.
The Spirit-filled or Spirit-led life is the Christ life. Jesus did everything and accomplished it because He was directed and led by the Holy Spirit. He did not do anything without the will and consent of the Father. Even during His temptation, He was led by the Holy Spirit. He lived life in the perfect will of God. Jesus then is our perfect model in the Christian life.
The Grace-filled Life
The grace filled life is the life that every Christian should aim at living. I called the Apostle Paul the Apostle of Grace because I believe he understood grace more than many of the disciples of Christ. However, we have realize that if we are the vessels of grace that does not mean that we at liberty to live as we please. Grace does not mean self-indulgence or antinomianism (against law). Second, grace does not mean that we are not to correct or rebuke the erring ones. Grace means that we give room for the Holy Spirit to do His work in the life of others.
In your case, when a church splits it demonstrates to the watching world that the congregation is devoid of grace. That is a poor testimony to the world.
The Certain Life
We live in a world of uncertainties. Therefore, when a believer lives a life of certainty, it becomes something rare that requires examination. People become curious as to why your life has a focus on direction because you are certain of your source of living. Many people are inquiring of certainty in life. Therefore, continue to exude certainty and point others to Christ.
THE PURSUIT OF GOD
You are right. The pursuit of God is a lifetime venture. I believe that many Christians are living a life of regret because they refused to yield to the pursuit of God. When you surrender your life to Christ and take up your cross to follow Him, you may not be the richest person on earth but you would be the most fulfilled person of God because you would always have His blessing, approval, peace, and presence with you. You will live life without regret.
THE ACCEPTED LIFE
I believe that God is using and going to use you to turn people's lives around. The problem that I have for some Christians who hate gays and lesbians is that some of these people adopt this aberrant and devious lifestyle because of what happened to them in the past. Therefore, it is better to listen to a person's story before you jump into conclusion. If we take time to love people in spite of themselves, the Lord will use us to help them to connect with Him and overcome any addiction or bondage in which they find themselves. God accepts people the way they are but He transforms their life in His own time and use them to influence others for Christ.
THE RENEWED LIFE
If those of us who call ourselves Christians would have the patient, pursuit, and love of God, He would use us to bring many people to Him. However, while we can tolerate our sins we hate the inconsistency and sins we find in others. We have to realize that the pull of sin is strong and it takes the strength and love of Christ to break that stronghold. May the Lord use you to help others find their way back to Christ who is patiently waiting.