Okay, I know you are a pastor, but are you boring as a speaker? How’s that question fit into a Friday blog post – when Sunday’s a comin?! I think it fits well, because Sunday IS a comin! If you have been boring your people, yourself, and maybe even the Holy Spirit – there is something you can do to immediately up the interest level of your messages.
When I do what I am about to tell you, I can visually notice the crowd I’m speaking to lean into my message, lift their heads, and make eye contact with me. They are sometimes literally hanging on every word when I do what I’m about to share with you.
You don’t need to take a remedial Homiletics course to learn this principle of communication – YOU can start this weekend to make any message you prepare just a little bit more engaging and interesting. When I do this, I enjoy preaching/speaking more, and my people get more out of it.
Here’s my secret, it’s so simple… you need to tell more compelling stories that illustrate the big idea of your message, lesson, or sermon. Notice the two examples below, and tell me which is more interesting:
Example A: Jonny and I record podcasts. Yesterday we recorded one. It was about small churches. It was fun.
Example B: Yesterday Jonny and I recorded a podcast at my house, in our opulent and luxurious second floor 200churches Studio, which is, by the way, my daughter’s old bedroom! She laughs when I remind her of that! Jonny and I got acquainted when we sat together in our very first class at Bethel Seminary, and we talked and joked most of the day. I knew that first week we met than I would have to hire him at my church. Now we record weekly podcasts in the studio together. Whenever Jonny comes in, he always takes a diet Coke from my little white fridge next to the loveseat. The one we recorded yesterday was with an old college friend of mine and two of his ministry leaders – it was a blast!
Of course example B was more interesting. I added more information, and told a little story, about how Jonny and I became friends and colleagues.
There has been a lot of neuroscience research in the past twenty years on how the brain receives information. Dr. Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D., an internationally recognized authority on brain development, said this: “Only four to eight minutes of pure factual lecture can be tolerated before the brain seeks other stimuli…”** For too long so many pastors would preach like that – pure factual lectures! One word: B-O-R-I-N-G.
Research has shown that the brain can just tune out facts, figures, and principles. BUT, the human brain simply and absolutely cannot tune out narratives, anecdotes, or stories! When you tell a story, people have to follow it. They can’t help it.
All you need to do, and this is so much easier than you’d think, is prepare a couple short stories/illustrations that will highlight and explain the content of your message. Be real. Tell the truth. Paint a picture with your words.
In Matthew 13:34 it says that Jesus “spoke all these things to the crowd in parables [stories]; he did not say anything to them without using a parable [story].”
You and I are certainly not more interesting than the Son of God! We also need to use stories when teaching our people spiritual truth.
About two months ago I was in Sioux City with my wife, and just as we were about to drive the 50 minutes home, I got an email. I noticed on my phone that it was a long email. So, I handed the phone to my wife and asked her to read it to me while I drove.
The email was from a person who listens to the 200churches podcast. This person wrote about the difficulties her and her husband were having in their ministry, and how she came upon the podcast online, and listened to several hours of episodes that afternoon.
She said that when her husband came home, they both listened to more episodes together, and their entire day was turned around because of the joy, honesty, and helpfulness of the podcast episodes that Jonny and I recorded.
While I was driving down the expressway, I was so moved by her email that I began to cry. These were tears of thankfulness and joy that God actually used what we created, to encourage others in ministry! That’s why we do them, but we don’t always get to hear about it from our listeners. In turn, her email made my day!
So that’s my short story at the end of this blog post. A story is more interesting, isn’t it? You should use at least one this Sunday. Go crazy and use two! Your people deserve it.
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