Communicating for Change
Sadly, many preachers have the attitude of let’s just get through this and we will be back next week both need to speak to listen.
If you can’t answer the question what they should have learned from the sermon, that they will not be able to answer if either.
Most of us care more about the hour after we preach than during the message. If we only worry about what happens in the moment, we are wrong. We have to change and think about those in the pews. Our preaching is more about the people than about ourselves.
You do not have to stay the same in your preaching, you can change and get better.
We have all fallen in ruts or bad habit so we should constantly check up on how we are doing.
If you saw your child about to grab a scorpion, you would do anything possible to get them to stop (yell, jump, or whatever you think is necessary to get their attention). And every Sunday you stand before a group of people that are one step away from danger (moral failure, debt, homosexuality, leaving church, etc.). What are you going to do? What are you going to say? To what extreme are you willing to go to in order to awake and speak to the people? Are you willing to break away from your normal or traditional methods? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone? Will you communicate for life change?
- Determine your goal.
Before talking about what to communicate, you should know why you’re communicating – what is your goal as a preacher, teacher or speaker?
Are you just talking or is there a specific reason you’re talking something you want them to learn?
What are you trying to say?
Why should they listen to you?
Here are a few of the goals preachers have:
1) Teach the Bible to people. 2) Teach people the Bible.
Spiritual maturity is not based on information transfer. Just covering material is not enough.
3) Teach people how to live a life that reflects the values and principles of the Bible. This emphasizes of change. People need to know what to do and be motivated why to do it. Preach for change. They should be doers, not just hearers.
You have not preached for life change until you have answered two things:
1) So what? and 2) Now what?
Is it more important what people think on Sunday or how they live on Monday? Decide and commit to preach for life change, to help people become doers and not hearers. More application and less information.
So preach by pleading your case and seeing people change not just give out more information. You have to define your goal. Is it smarter people or changed people? This is important because your message will depend on what you want people to know and do with what you preach.
- Pick a point.
A sermon is a journey, you start somewhere you go somewhere and end somewhere. But the question is did you arrive where you wanted to go.
Before you get behind the wheel (or pulpit), you should know where you are going.
If you get behind the wheel I do not have a destination that you are just driving for the fun of it and the same goes behind a pulpit.
You need to know where you are going in order to get there.
I have good information and intentions but if you do not know your destination, all you are doing is talking.
Justus if you get in the car and drive to an exact address, you should do the same with your message. You should be able to start off headed to a destination when you get there, the people should know that they have been to that destination.
Just like an address, your sermon should be one point that can be summed up in a single sentence.
Is just like a list of numbers, no one can repeat a long list of numbers back to you. But if you give the same number over and over, they can tell you what the number is. If you have a sermon, they should be able to finish and repeat back to you with the point of the sermon was. You could have a lot of information and good points, but if the people cannot remember after you finish, it does no good. When you are thirsty you do not go to a water hydrant or you’ll drown yourself… and you have to narrow your focus of the message to one point or you will drown the people.
It is easier to remember one thing I remember several things even if they are all good.
You could be creative, funny and everything else, just make sure it takes you to the destination that you want to go.
What are you trying to say? What do you want to accomplish… then plan your journey according to that. Have the end in mind.
Our points flow from our notes to the lips to the people… and mean nothing because you have to run to the notes since it does not flow from your life.
Generally people remember more a “sticky statement” more than a paragraph that you read them. Have a one-liner that can sum up your message.
A question from the text, a statement that sums up what you said, catchy line, etc., a way that sticks in the mind and heart of your listeners.
What is the one thing, that burden that the preacher must communicate to his listeners. But if you don’t know what it is, the audience sure will not know either. Sermons that have put you to sleep have information but no burden. Your goal should be that one point that you have to share with the people, a burden that they must hear and you must say.
- Create a map.
Will help you know best way to arrive to destination
Sit down and map out your course before you go on your trip – map to stick to.
Outlines be like in the psych, what’s a good information in it but people usually don’t curl up in bed with it. It’s more like a story that will take you to your destination.
A map to follow is: Me, We, God, You, We
Me – Has to do with Orientation
This is the place where I introduce myself to the audience. The audience that feels comfortable with the speaker will really listen. Once they are on my side, I can take them somewhere.
A audience has to buy into the messenger before they can buy into the message. If the communicator is arrogant, not genuine, etc. If you assume a relationship with the people, one that you do not have, you will not have the people with you. If you rush through the material, it could show you want to just get through the material and are more interested in you than them. If your tone is not what it should be, you may turn them off.
If you are talking to a audience where you always preach, the “me” part is not as important. But other places there are people who do not know you and may not want to like you, so you need to get past that obstacle.
We – Has to do with Identification
This is where I show the need and that we have common ground. Raise a felt need the people in your audience.
Saying things like, “this is probably only something I wrestle with”, etc. humanizing yourself and getting them to see you are a person, not some untouchable guy on the platform.
Spend time to spark an emotion about a need, problem, etc. Surface issues that needs to be addressed before you move on. If you can get your audience on your side or to think they are with you or want to know the answer, you can now move on.
God – Has to do with Illumination
This is where you take that common, emotional ground that you have with them with the Scriptures. If you start out directly with the truth, they might not see their need for it, so you work shows that there need to take them to God. take time to connect people to the truth of God’s word.
The goal is to point people to God. You can say, “God addressed this issue in…”, “We are not the only ones who’ve had this question or problem, open your Bible to…”.
Make it so engaging and interesting that people want to keep studying, go home and find out more and follow with their ears and hearts the entire message.
You – Has to do with Application
This is where we tell the people what to do with what they have heard.
This is where we answer the questions “so what” and “now what”.
Once have presented the truth from the scripture, you can ask the question what are you going to do about it.
This does not mean that the speaker is exempt from the truth presented, it means that the speaker has a responsibility to connect the audience with the truth. Life change will come up with people apply the truth to their lives.
But they will not do that until they feel that they need to.
The outline will rebind you where you are going on this journey so that you can stay on your course.
We – Has to do with Inspiration
This is the place to cast a common vision. A vision of what our lives, our family, our church and our world would look like if we would only apply the truths from God’s word. It is the inspirational part of the message. Sometimes the truth will make the people feel like they have such a long time to go with the truth, if I could give them a small picture of what it looks like that they can have hope.
Wrapping the time up with rejoining your audience and casting out the vision of what could happen if we all put in practice what was just preached.
- Internalize the message.
Having the map super important. But knowing where you’re going something totally different. If you look down at the map all the time, you’ll end up in a wreck, which Way you are going on no your cargo. So you load up before you leave.
You do not leave home until you are ready. And a preacher should not stand in front of the crowd until he knows he is ready. You know this, how many touched people stand up to speak sound like they’re reading from a phone book.
You should not stand up and speak sounding like it is the first time that you’ve ever said this. You should have it turn allies, made this message part of you, before you ever stand up in front of people. You own it. It is your burden. It is something inside of you that with you standup, it comes out.
You could have notes, you should not stand up until you are ready to say it without notes – it must be something personal from your heart.
Sherry story for a lesson learned in life, is just something that comes out even if it is something to have a go. Good message exact same way.
A story just pours out of your heart people love stories because it is something that you have experienced.
A good actor speaks from his heart, not from a script… and the same goes for a communicator, a preacher.
If you don’t believe and are convinced about what we are saying, no one else will. We should believe it so much that we can tell our sermon instead of read it or keep looking at our notes to remember it. Constantly referring to notes says it is not that important (even if you say it is important).
Make it your story. You don’t hear someone read a story of it is their story… if they read it it’s because it is someone else’s story.
Using a one-point message will make it easier to remember.
Many think they can’t preach without notes because their message is just information and notes, nothing internalized.
How is it that people that were nothing like Jesus (Paul, Peter and others) stayed and listened to Him? They spoke not from a script but from their internal being.
Notes can and should be reminders or pointers but not a script we read.
Rehearse out loud your message. If you cannot remember your opener or conclusion, you may lose the people and they will not remember what was taught. Your opening and closing should probably be committed to memory.
Adding material to just fill up the time could be just as bad as not having enough. You may rush it and not close out how wanted. A sermon can be like a good movie… something you love and enjoyable. But that means you leave plenty of “good ideas” cut out and hit the most important part. Internalize your message and it will be good.
- Engage the audience.
You have to know your destination, but you have to know your audience that you’re taking with you. If you know your destination and leave the crowd in the dust, it does you know good getting there by yourself, you have to take others with you.
If I can make them want to know that what I am presenting something that they need, that I have them for the entire journey.
Get people to see things or look at things in a way that they have never seen or looked at that before.
Connect with the people.
Learn to think like a skeptic. Once you do that, you can answer I have asked the questions that the audience is thinking and needs to know.
Part of keeping your audience gaged is taking it slow on the turns. As a communicator, you’re the only one going – people look to you for the signals of where they are going. The transitions between your points can’t even either give someone a bump on the head of make up sick so give the turn on the signals so people know. Some people in their sermons turn so hard on the transition that they throw people right out the door. You could give verbal cues of the people for the transition you’re about to make. If you just stared out at your boats, you will not be able to give signals for your turns/transitions.
Carefully craft how to transition from one point of your message to the next.
What is your plan to capture and keep their attention?
If you’ve ever counted the tiles or work on your to-do list during the message, it is probably because the speaker has driven off and left you standing at the station. He drove off and didn’t even notice that no one was with him on his journey. The speaks prepared for hours for nothing.
When we are engaged time flies but when we are not, time stands still. We must capture and keep people’s attention. We say people do not have same attention span but there are plenty of movies, plays, games, books and other things that last hours upon hours and we all get involved. It’s all in the presentation.
Presentation and preparation keep people coming back.
Presentation matters. Shouldn’t we do all possible to make the living Word of God come alive to those listening is. Present in a way that people love, listen and want to apply what is being taught.
Jesus was not content with being right, He wanted to be heard.
There are times when we are interested in something and willing to listen, but most of the time we have to have a reason to be engaged. So we must learn to raise the need. Create a tension of s mystery or question or concern to start your message and people will go with you, but say nothing of the sort and you will probably leave everyone in your congregation standing at the station.
If you give answers that no one is asking or release tensions that are not there, people may sit through your sermon but that does not mean they are engaged. Your introduction could be your greatest key to getting people on board with you.
The introduction should create interest, wet their appetite, get them wanting to hear what you are going to talk about, make them listen to what is to follow. Many preachers are so anxious on getting to the body of their message that they jump past the introduction and leave the people behind, departing from the station with everyone standing and no one on board.
If you don’t capture attention in the first five minutes, the rest of your message is probably in vain. Here are some questions you want to answer in your introduction:
1. What is the question I am answering? And what can I do to make my audience want to know the answer to that question?
2. What is the tension this message will resolve? What can I do to make my audience feel that tension?
3. What mystery does this message solve? And what can I do to make my audience want a solution?
Jesus used these questions almost all of the time. What does the people say…, etc. People wanted to hear what was to follow.
If we fail to arouse attention, we are wrong to assume we can keep their attention.
You must capture attention, get the audience to want to hear what you have to say or you will never have them with you for the remainder of the journey.
Grabbing their attention in the beginning is super important, but you have to keep it the whole time through as well. Here are five ways to keep attention all the way through… here are the rules of engagement:
1. Check your speed – brain can capture much more than mouth can speak. Don’t speak too slow or people will race ahead of you. It’s not that its unimportant what they are saying but the pace will say it isn’t as important. But talking too fast can exhaust people as well.
2. Slow down in the curves – give people indications that you are transitioning from one point to the next. Saying something more than once in a different way. Warn people by letting them know what is coming up, this provides them to catch back up with you if they are distracted or behind for whatever reason. By creating this transition, people can get back with you (rejoin you).
3. Navigate through the text – the text sometimes bogs people down but this should be a engaging time. Keep them in a central text while you read others, comment on long portions of reading, explain hard words, express your thoughts on this passage, help them anticipate what’s coming, deliberately read the text wrong to get them thinking, have them to finish a verse, use visuals as much as you can, and resist to share everything you know about the text. So engage the people with the text, don’t bore them with it.
4. Add something unexpected to the trip – when something unusual happens, everyone is engaged. If lights go out, do interviews, someone paint or draw while you speak, etc., people will be engaged. We miss many good opportunities just because we are not creative when we have the chance to speak. Plan something unexpected. Let others help give you ideas.
5. Take the most direct route – your audience needs to know where you’re going on the journey. They want to know where you are going so don’t make them sit through half of the message wondering where you are going with this message. Yes sometimes making them wonder can be good but you have to know how to lead them and can’t keep them in the dark for long. Direct route is usually better.
- Find your voice.
Many sermons are talking at people, not to people
You cannot and should not part your preaching and sermons from your “normal” way of talking. Be the same person in pulpit and out of pulpit.
If you talk in 3rd person and talk about others, it is never personal. Converse with the audience by acknowledging that they are there. Talk to them, not at them.
Listen to your own messages and criticize how and what you say. Listen to it on audio as well as video.
Find your voice means you must find out who you are and be that person, not changing when you get on stage.
Authenticity covers a lot of problems. No one wants to hear a clone of someone else or your pulpit person, be who you are. This means to be who God made you, but this is not a excuse to not be boring either.
- Find some traction.
When you get stuck, have tools you can use.
1st, pray – getting on your fave before God and find out if there’s something that is blocking your way.
2nd, have a list of questions –
- What do they need to know? This is the Biblical principle that they must know. Information
- Why do they need to know it? This is the motivation to get them to apply it. Answering why will convince them to follow you in the remainder of the message.
- What do they need to do? This is the application. Have you given them a way to apply it to their daily lives? Every message has at least one application. Be very specific. But do not be realistic. Be creative on how to apply this.
- Why do they need o do it? This is the inspiration, what their lives will look like once they have applied the truth. Why should they do what you are asking? Make a list of reasons why and read them to the people. Imagine what it would look like if this was applied.
- What can I do to help them remember? Hand out a 3×5 with a memory verse on it, hand out some reminder to help them remember the lesson. Reiteration.
If there’s something that gets you on a tangent, you need to get back on track.
Tools do not have to be and should not be difficult. The best tools are basic.