Friday, January 25, 2008

Andy Stanley's 3 keys for Sermoneering

Years ago, Andy Stanley spoke at the C3 conference at Fellowship Church and while I did not attend, I did order the CD's and these three rules for delivering messages have changed the way that we think about sermoneering. I looked for it on the internet, and could not find the outline, so I thought I would post these three key questions we must ask before making any presentation.

1. Is the context appealing
Much has been said recently about contexualization and the need for us to understand that not every program or presentation is universally accepted or for that manner effective. If we are to be missional in our approach, we have to ask ourselves the context question. Is the context in which we plan to speak aiding or detracting for the listener's ability to receive the message. Everything from strange sounds and odors to dirty floors and burned out light bulbs can all detract from our message getting across. Our dress, the use of multimedia all come into play. Is the context appealing for my listener. It too must be mentioned that the context may change as the listener changes. It is also important to note that context does not mean good or bad. The context of Chuck-E-Cheese is a great context for a 5 year old's birthday party and a hospital is a great context for a sick person but neither are great environments for the other. Before we go to speak, we must ask ourselves if the context is appealing.

2. Is the presentation engaging
The first book on preaching taught that attention is something you pay. We need as communicators to understand that it costs our listeners (and readers) time and effort, and if we begin the habit of wasting their time they will begin the habit of going elsewhere. Every message of Christ was engaging, it grabbed the attention of the listeners and left them wanting more, not realizing where the time went. It is a sin to take the most interesting book in history and proceed to bore people with it, but unfortunately we often do. To fight this we must tell stories and interact with the crowd as often as possible. We live in a narrative society and stories engage.

3. Is the content helpful

Andy says in his talk that comedians are engaging, but they are not helpful. Comedians have trained themselves to ride the wave of the crowd and know when it is time to go deeper and when to move on. And although very engaging, comedy is not helpful. Our task as communicators of God's word is to engage the crowd in a conversation that will in the end help them to take spiritual steps. We must always look at it from the critic's phrase "so what's your point!" A great environment and engaging delivery are only as good as the content is helpful.