One of the benefits of working with interns in assigning them to read books and watch DVDs on preaching that I have found helpful. A second benefit is rereading those texts and rewatching the videos so as to discuss them accurately. For next week’s discussion with Chris & Jack, I reread Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones.
Stanley and Jones employ a style similar to the business books written by Patrick Lencioni. The first half of the book is a well-written parable while the second half goes into greater detail explaining the principles told in the story. The story is about a pastor who feels inadequate as a preacher. Willing to go to any lengths to improve, he takes a ride with a truck driver who explains seven principles of effective communication. Less than 200 pages, the book is a treasure trove of insights.
Stanley and Jones place an emphasis on simplifying the content of the sermon. Rather than dumbing down a sermon and being simplistic, they mean to simplify the content to one point and illustrating and applying so that it sticks with the audience when they leave. The more points you present, they argue, the less people remember. This idea dovetails with principles presented by Haddon Robinson in his book, Biblical Preaching, and Donald Sunukjian in Invitation to Biblical Preaching. Both men advocate identifying the main idea of a Scripture passage and focusing the sermon on explaining and applying it to the audience.
I also appreciated Stanley and Jones’ reminder of the need for transitions so as to help the audience move from one point to the next. That way you make sure people are tracking with you.
The greatest lesson I learned the first time through the book was in “Finding your voice.” It is the principle of discovering your own style of speaking and staying true to your style. A few years back, I blogged about how that chapter impacted me. For me, that chapter alone was worth the price of the book.
I enjoyed rereading the book and look forward to next week’s discussion.