Communicating for a Change, pt. 3

And the last of the highlights 🙂 (can you tell I really enjoyed the book?)

It’s difficult to receive challenging information from someone who seems to have no clue as to what it is like to be you.
Go out of your way to lay out your humanity and frailty. 
Many communicators either skip along the surface of a few verses without really explaining or engaging the text. Or they go down so deep and stay there so long everybody in the audience is gasping for air.

I think it’s the fear of losing the audience that motivates so many young preachers to be Scripture light and story heavy. 

The ideal option is to engage the audience with the text. Don’t just read it. Don’t explain it to death. Take the audience with you on the journey. Make it so fascinating that they are actually tempted to go home and read it on their own. 

Can you share the point of your sermon in a five minute conversation? If not, you might be in the habit of squeezing too much information and too many verses and not enough life in your sermons.

Take out the good stuff so the best stuff can shine.

There is lots of talk lately about people’s attention spans. The theory is that it’s getting shorter and shorter because of technology. The point is, when we’re engaged, time flies. When we’re not engaged, time stands still. The issue is not the span of people’s attention. The issue is our ability to capture and hold people’s attention.

Often we think we need new content to keep people engaged. Not true. We need fresh presentations.

In the first century people loved or hated Jesus. But nobody fell asleep. He was engaging and enraging. He was creative, direct, compassionate and offensive.

Be willing to sacrifice what’s comfortable – what has become part of your style – for the sake of what is effective. 


all communicators should buy this book. 🙂

3 Replies to “Communicating for a Change, pt. 3”

  1. Never mind a five minute conversation, if you can’t distill the theme of your sermon into a sentence or two, you’re not doing your job.Interesting post. I’ll have to check this book out

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  2. Thanks for sharing these, Jenny. Regarding people’s attention spans and sermons, I think Andy’s comments as you’ve represented them here are true. That said, the trend is actually the older the parishioner and the longer-time member, the shorter the sermon-time preference. This would be the group least likely to have been effected by short-attention-span producing technology. The younger and least-experienced the worship attender, the longer the sermon-time preference (or at very least, willingness to listen and interest in being engaged longer with potentially more content). A friend here in Houston is on the preaching team for a community founded with the rehab/12-step community primarily in mind. His comment on attention span was, “we’ve got people with fewer brain cells than the average church member and they hang with us for 30-40 minutes every week.” If you’re good, I’ll hang with you. My preference is for a longer sermon, provided they’ve got something to say—like Rob Bell or Will Willimon podcasts of preaching/lecture sessions of 45-60 minutes.

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  3. Thanks for the good review of the book. I blogged it a couple years ago, myself. The embracing of one-point preaching has been the best thing I’ve done in my preaching journey!

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