Our church’s precious pastor of 27 years just retired, and the search is on for a new shepherd. I have the privilege of being on our pastor search committee, so I’m listening to sermon after sermon. Most are wonderful but some are missing a key component–focus.
This is a blog post that was done at the beginning of our site, but I was reminded as I listen how important it is to start with a single focus. I hope you find this helps as you write your Christmas messages!
Principle 1–Simple (From Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath)
Sticky ideas are simple ideas. Here’s how the Heath brothers define simple:
“…sound bites are not the ideal. Proverbs are the ideal. We must create ideas that are both simple and profound.”
They cite the Golden Rule as the perfect example of a simple, sticky idea. It’s easy to remember, but it could take an entire lifetime to actually live it out.
This idea of keeping our messages simple ties right into Stanley’s book. After studying scripture, researching commentaries and filling pages of notebooks with facts, ideas and inspiration, we need to ask God, “What is the one thing that you want my listeners to remember? What one life-changing thing do You want them to know?” These questions help us to find The One Thing that God wants us to communicate to our audience.
How many times have you walked away from hearing a speaker thinking “That was great!”? How many times could you still remember the point of the message a week later? a month later? Six months later? That’s the problem with messages that have many points. They may seem wonderful to listen to, but are they life-changing for the listener? I believe that a one-point message can be engaging and challenging as well as life-transforming.
I’ll give you an example. At She Speaks this year, Lysa TerKeurst gave the Friday night message. I can still tell you the point of the message from 2 months ago. “Your reactions determine your reach.” It was a sticky message that is still messing with my life. Not only do I remember the main point, but I remember the scripture Lysa used and many of the stories, because they were all wrapped around that one point.
So try it. It’s a really simple but not easy way to construct a message. Anybody who makes it looks easy has really spent hours working on a short, simple, memorable proverb. See what you can do with focusing your messages on one compelling point.
“How many times have you walked away from hearing a speaker thinking “That was great!”? How many times could you still remember the point of the message a week later? a month later? Six months later?”
I just found your website after completing my first speaking engagement at a church function. I’d like to encourage you that the Holy Spirit can and will bring to remembrance things in your messages as needed by those in attendance. Several years ago I came hungry and thirsty to a conference run by women who have since become dear friends and ministry partners. At their previous conference, God met me and began to transform my life. So I was very excited and prayerful about this next conference.
While it was a nice afternoon spent with the Lord and other ladies, I left feeling disappointed that God did not have anything for me. I came seeking, why didn’t He meet me? I supposed that “last time was my turn, this time it’s somebody else’s turn.” I was OK with that and promptly forgot about it.
About 6 months later, I had a situation arise. I can’t even remember what it was about at this point, but I remember what God did for me. He recalled to my mind an object lesson that had been given at that last conference, complete with scripture and visual aid. It was exactly what I needed!
What a joy to be able to go back to my sisters and tell them that their service to the Lord was still bearing brand new fruit 6 months later! GOD is able!
Thanks Amy for the great reminder. I struggle with this because I have so much to share lol
I heard recently that our message should be more like a laser than a broom. That image really helps me to keep the focus.
I agree that as speakers we need to have a main focus or point for people to take home. I also agree that pastors/preachers should give the congregation a focus to the message but at the same time an expository preacher will have more than one point to his message to go along with the title (or main focus)because he is expounding on the passage not just preaching a topical message with a bunch of stories and a scripture that goes along with his title (focus point). I do realize that there are preachers who ramble and do not stay on track. Howerver, even though pastor’s and speakers may prepare in the same manner, they may deliver quite differently.
Rhonda, I totally agree with you! Our jobs as speakers are very different than a pastor’s. I still think that starting your message prep with a prayerfully established biblical main point keeps all kinds of messages on track.
Great reminder! “What one life-changing thing do You want them to know?” – That’s going on a sticky note. Thank you!
Ok here’s my question. When leading a 3 session weekend retreat do you craft a sticky message for each session or do you have 1 for the entire weekend?
I love this method and have passed it on to others that teach and speak.
Great question, Cynthia! I’ll answer it next week on the blog. Thanks for giving me blog ideas! 🙂
Great! I can’t wait for the answer. hee hee 🙂
Thank you Amy!! I appreciate you and the insight you share with us. This I will remember!!
God bless you Amy!!