How to be so Engaging, it’s Exhausting!
Recently, I ran a preaching masterclass with one budding preacher who really has a gift of leading and communication. His future is big. We listened to his message on ‘The Power of the Tongue’. It was good, strong, and had a great vibe to it. My role, however, was to show him how he could make it a great message, and to do that he had to look at it through the lens of ‘relevance’. We looked at the places where the message lost traction through the loss of relevance to where people were actually at. Here’s what we came up with –
1. Everyone Wants Vision.
Vision is the ability to see a better future. His overuse of Proverbs 18:21 (that life and death lie in the power of words) at the beginning of the message swerved it from being inspirational to being instructional. Instead of emphasising the vision ‘your words can change your future’, it was emphasising the commitment of good words over bad. In doing so, it lost some relevance early on. Yet it wasn’t hard to fix.
2. Everyone Loves A Story.
If you come out of the gates powerfully casting vision and don’t change gear in order to connect people to vision, your message will become almost totally ‘proclamational’. You can only preach effectively like this for short periods of time. And that’s what the message lacked – a gear change from potentially ‘changing your words can change your future’ to ‘let me show you the journey of change’. Without that, the message over-projected to create some kind of super-Christian who only used positive words. And no-one really likes an annoying super-Christian anyway!
3. Everyone Loves Authenticity.
His last point out of three was all about talking to yourself. Instead of speaking badly about yourself to yourself, it was about speaking well of yourself to yourself. I told him that I never did this and asked him if he did. His sheepish look gave the game away. He was repeating what he’d heard another motivational speaker say. And that didn’t make it true or effective. In fact, the remedy for ‘I’m such a loser’ isn’t saying ‘I’m such a winner’ – it’s hearing and meditating, and recalling God saying ‘you’re going to win’. To use yourself as the role model as to how someone actually hears from God, worships God and moves in the Spirit adds a ton of authenticity and easily grants to you that coveted ‘Access All Areas’ card.
4. Everyone Loves Humility.
The ‘tongue’ message that we listened to together would become a better message using my first 3 points, but it would never become a great message. Great messages are born out of a crisis and a crucible. They don’t come off the shelf. A word formed in a crisis is the same ‘chemical composition’ as a word found off the shelf yet it’s different – it’s punctured with holes of humility. Each hole saying it’s true for me it can be true for you. Humility always creates relevance because everyone is averse to any kind of pushiness from a preacher and, secondly, everyone knows how messy their lives actually are!
To become a national treasure (especially in the United Kingdom where I live) you have to have both proven success and carry some kind of fragility or brokenness. If someone is too perfect, they are liked but never treasured. For preachers to access all areas of people’s hearts, and not just some, they have to show a certain brilliance yet lace it with the humility of still being ‘under construction’. The more relevant we become, the more effective we’ll be.
– Dave Gilpin
No-one need tell us marriage is taking a significant hit, and that divorce rates continue to rise. And that what is true of the community is becoming all too familiar in God’s church. Divorce has become the preferred option to working through difficulty. It is simply easier. Or rather, it is sold to us that it is. The results militate against the advertising. Children suffer – no matter how much the parents insist they have an amicable relationship with their ‘former.’ Women are primarily the losers, poverty increases, crime rises and jail looms.
One-way through is to re-engineer marriage so that it becomes a smorgasbord rather than a set meal. Options are being added daily that are neither sustainable nor natural – in the sense that it takes a man and woman to initiate, birth and properly sustain a family. Anything else is literally unproductive, therefore unnatural, without any appeal to moral codes.
I suspect, or at least hope, this will go the same way as restaurants that have salad and food bars. They have been found to contain a lot of ‘less than desirable’ little extras.
A casual approach to Holy Matrimony, an increasingly popular trend, is part cause and part reflection of marriage breakdown.
Whilst we uphold marriage as honorable and holy – the Roman Catholic Church believes it to be a sacrament – we undo our intentions by agreeing with the world around us that is personalizing and making marriage ceremonies more and more blasé. We meet under trees, on the beach, in the clouds (Skydiving vows), in queues (see A Reflection), anywhere. We dress as though we were at a party. The minister wears casual clothes, the wedding guests even more so, the parents privately disappointed that the wedding day looks less sartorially attended to than a day at the races.
Wherever something becomes casual, outdoors-ee, it loses something, and it is this constant leeching of the holy, the serious, from the wedding ceremony that ultimately works towards undermining the institution of marriage. As it begins, so it goes.
This isn’t the rant of someone older, as though that in itself invalidates what is said. It is the rant of someone who sees the church treading the same cultural patterns of the world it is called to be light and salt to. (Worryingly we don’t recognize this – worldliness is thinking that what the world does is normal, therefore acceptable.)
Marriage is sacred and serious and requires an environment that fosters its sacredness, and not one that engenders a lessening of its sacred purpose. Solemn and joyful.
And this starts at the start – the wedding ceremony. When we dumb down this day we are dumbing down a future. We are falling into the trap of cheapening the act, therefore cheapening its purpose and what it speaks to and about.
The grand pronouncement of Moses, underpinning human history, upheld by Jesus, and believed by the church, is becoming a quaint little ceremony. We aren’t helping ourselves. We are secularizing the sacred by the art of being casual.
A couple waiting in line at the first US screening got hitched with a Star Wars (look alike) cast. The Celebrant was Obi-wan-Kenobi, and the Father Darth Vader. Not sure who Chewy was?
The crowd cheered and yelled, and my heart sank.
Marriage has been so trivialized that we think this constitutes a marriage celebration. What happens if the husband turns on the Franchise, or outs Darth Vader as a plastic version of himself.
And what tie binds, except the ever-fickle definition of love – something I am in until am not anymore.
Of course you could always look at this as, just fun – which I am sure it was to them. And life should have fun, for goodness sakes. Fun, however, does have context, and I’m not so sure a marriage ceremony should be merely fun, or hinged around fun, much less Star Wars – a fun movie itself.
Marriage is the springboard of social health and wellbeing. Linking it to Star Wars is like giving a light sabre to a child – damage is inevitable. I will go to see Star Wars. Can’t wait! But I’m unlikely to renew my vows before, during, or after the screening.
Written by Simon Mcintyre
We have the honour of sharing devotionals from Colin & Beth Blois from C3 Hope City // Read Beth’s devotional below on assurance & confidence in the “Yes!” of God!
Psalm 85:12 (ESV) Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
I am not sure if this is a girl thing but I am the kind of person that doesn’t work well with vague! I love certainty, clarity and assurance, I like black or white, grey doesn’t suit me!! What I love when I read this scripture is the first thing that hits me is ‘YES’ that assurance, that confidence, no uncertainty and no grey!! YES the Lord WILL give what is good. This isn’t a question its a statement of certainty – goodness will find you! I am constantly struck by the goodness of God and His nature to do good in my life! Wherever I go, whatever I face I am being pursued by His goodness.
In this season we can carry that confidence that ‘Our land’; your land – your family, your Church, your city WILL yield, it will produce and provide increase. What an amazing promise! Your land – no matter how barren, your family – no matter how broken, our cities – no matter how far they may feel from God WILL be restored, they will grow!
We are loving our devotionals series, are you?! This month we have the honour of sharing devotionals from Lars & Megan Halvorsen, from C3 Darwin! // read this weeks devotional from @meganjhalvo below
Psalm 116: 16 (MSG) Oh God, here I am, your servant, your faithful servant: set me free for your service!
One of the great benefits of salvation is freedom. Freedom from sin, guilt, shame, our past, sickness, bondage and the list goes on. It is for freedom He has set us free!
What is the purpose of this freedom though? The world would tell us that freedom is all about the ability to run your own life, forge your own path, follow the desires of the flesh and be free from the restrictions others place upon us.
The true freedom of the Kingdom is of course different. I love the heart cry of David here in this Psalm: “Set me free for your service!” He had the revelation that the purpose of his freedom in Christ was to actually freely lay his life down in service to God.
One of my favourite things is hearing people’s joy when they discover the fulfilment that comes from serving. As we serve God, others, our church and our community we bring a revolution!
No matter what role, title or function we perform, let’s always keep at heart: “God, here I am, your servant.”
Check in every Monday for a new devotional from one of our pastors from around the globe – this month we have the honour of hearing from Same & Jess Picken from C3 Toronto. Read Sam’s devotional on #purpose for this week:
1 Corinthians 9:16 “Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News!”
A huge struggle we have with PURPOSE is knowing “What am I meant to do?”. I find most people want to please God and live out their purpose, but knowing whether the next move we’re thinking is the right one can be paralyzing. But if we remain in indecision for too long, that itself becomes a bad decision. Kingdom vision compels us. In this verse Paul reveals that his purpose became so strong that little decision making is actually required. He is COMPELLED by the cause of eternity. I believe God wants us living with this level of passion for the local church and for the kingdom of God. Remember that everything you have and everything you do is for this cause. Living for God and spreading the gospel is the greatest, most compelling purpose anyone can live for.
Lars & Megan Halvorsen are the senior pastors of C3 Darwin, and are checking in this week with a devotional for you! Read Lars’ devotional below:
Psalm 145:18 God’s there, listening for all who pray, for all who pray and mean it.
Our two daughters, aged 5 and 3 are at a stage where they are always competing for my attention. They will do the craziest things to gain my focus. Anything from pulling a funny face or inventing a new dance move, to creating an artistic masterpiece or even feigning an illness. Whatever it takes to get Daddy to look!
This scripture shows us we have a Father in heaven whose attention needs not be competed for. We do not need to perform a clever trick or call incessantly for him to “watch me!”, He is already leaning in and listening for the prayer of His child. Think about it: the King of the universe is seated on His throne, and yet right now He is inclined toward you anticipating your heartfelt prayer. Your prayer at any moment is eagerly awaited. May knowing this to be true inspire you to pray more often, more naturally and more like a child who has their father’s undivided attention.