I remember walking into the church office one day and one of our pastors was visibly frustrated. She looked at me and said, “If I read one more sports illustration in this book, I’m going to lose my mind.” (She was reading a popular book on leadership.) Lately, I’ve been listening to a very well-known preacher and enjoying the way he unfolds Scripture. As I’ve listened, I’ve begun to realize that his illustration default is C.S. Lewis. He can quote him 3-4 times in one message. (Can I still go to heaven if I’m not a great lover of Narnia?) Another pastor whose church I often visit while on vacation has personal illustrations as his “go to”. These are not criticisms just observations.
Sermon illustrations are windows in a message and for me the more windows the better. Continue reading…
I was talking with a friend the other day and the topic turned to parenting. In the course of our conversation I said that we were fortunate, we never worried about our kids so we never had to give them a curfew. My friend told be what their parents did to make sure they were home on time and I thought it was brilliant!!!
Buy an old-fashioned alarm clock. You know the one ones that wind up with the bells on top.
Show your teenager how it works and how to turn it off.
Before your teen heads out for the night, state the time they must be home and set the clock to that time. In their presence put the clock at the bottom of the steps and say, “You need to be home to turn this off before the alarm goes on. If the clock wakes me up there will be a price to pay. Good night.” Then go to bed and sleep well:)
Told you it was simple:)
Our neighbours are not coffee drinkers so whenever they have overnight guests my wife makes a pot of coffee for them and delivers it in a gigantic travel mug. A couple of weeks ago she made her delivery and stayed for a while and the conversation turned to church. The guests attend church periodically and my wife invited them to our church and God stuff. It happened to be a Sunday when she was on the Worship Team and I was speaking. To be honest we were not sure if they would come but they came and we were thrilled. Our atmosphere is very relaxed but at the same time our worship is passionate. They drank everything in and came after the service to say they enjoyed being with us.
On the Monday, my wife was talking with them and they said the following which is a compliment but always makes me sad at the same time, “I understood everything your husband said.”
Why would I be upset at this?
Isn’t that a sign that you are actually communicating?
Yes, that’s all true but here’s the deal.
Why are they surprised that they understood what I said?
What is going on in our church pulpits that guests don’t expect to understand the message?
What is going on that the average person thinks the preacher is going to sound like Charlie Browns’ teacher?
I know we all have our own style and approach whether it’s conversational or firebrand, smoke or no smoke, powerpoint or overhead, Arminian or Calvinist, topical or expository. These are hills that some people will die on especially the last four:) Style doesn’t matter is you fail to communicate and connect with your message.
Here are a few broad strokes or filters if you like from Peter Mead, that I think can check us as we prepare our messages.
Take the opportunity to show that you are not a Bible history lecturer, but someone who is aware of real life. Show that the message will be relevant to listeners’ lives. Point out that the passage itself is relevant. Three hits before the message has even begun!
Make sure the wording of your main idea is contemporary. You can support it biblically, but word it for us, today.
Word the points “us” and “we” rather than historical labels for biblical content.
Traditionally called “illustrations,” make good use of contemporary experience and applicational description rather than offering lots of historical (and therefore distant) anecdotes and quotes.
Between each point, you can offer a glimpse of the relevance of the message again.
See point #1, above.
There you have it simple. Simple? Yes. Effective? Yes.
Here’s to fewer people being amazed that they understood what the preacher said.
“Everything in our society is geared to make you unhappy with your current circumstances: your job, your wardrobe, your car, your house, your wife, the place you live, whatever it might be. Everything in the advertising world is designed to breed discontent. To make you unhappy with what you have.” (John Maxwell)
There is lie that we believe, that we can earn our contentment. Continue reading…