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.
The Wording of Every Point
Word the points “us” and “we” rather than historical labels for biblical content.
Explanations, Proofs and Applications Throughout
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.