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