God has chosen preaching as the method He uses to communicate His message to our world.
Jesus told us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel.
Paul told his young preachers to ‘preach the Word’.
God has called, and gifted, some people to be preachers/communicators. Whoever has this calling should do all they can to improve their skills as a communicator, so that when inspiration flows we are able to articulate clearly what we are feeling within. It’s a terrible thing to be at a loss for words, phrases or knowledge and be unprepared for those moments when we need to communicate our heart and soul. Great artists, singers, musicians and writers are forever practicing their craft, so they are immersed in their calling, constantly educating themselves and sharpening their skills. Here’s five points for great communication:
Great communication is always from the heart, not the head.
The head is a great servant of the heart, soul and spirit, supplying information, memories, understanding, reasoning and strong argument, but the mind should never be the master, drowning out the heart. We must preach what we are passionate about and we should preach that with passion. We must preach what we feel, not just what we know. People are moved by people who are moved. Pain in the speaker arouses pathos in the hearer. Enthusiasm in the speaker arouses enthusiasm in the hearer.
Great communication always engages the audience with stories.
Every principle must have an illustration. The law of preaching should be that we don’t announce a principle unless we have a story to illustrate it. Every page of the Bible has a story on it. Every day we are involved in the story of our life and the lives of others. Preachers are always gleaning stories from theirs and others journeys.
Great communication is simple.
Simple ideas. Simple words. Never too many thoughts. Just one big message, one big point, said in three different ways with stories, hammering it home so it’s unforgettable. A great point can be drowned out with too many other points. If the preacher is attempting to impress his audience his great point will get lost in the horde of knowledge he pours out over the pulpit.
Great communication is brief.
If we think we are improving our message by lengthening it we are wrong. The famous TED talks are just 18 minutes long because they have researched the science of listening and discovered this is an optimum length of time for a message to be absorbed. I’m not saying we all need to speak on Sundays for just 18 minutes, but you don’t want to be too much longer. A great message can become a terrible message once it goes beyond ‘that moment’ when we should have stopped. Stopping is harder than starting for some.
Great communication always has a call to action.
There must be some kind of considered response at the end of the message. ‘Come to Christ’. ‘Surrender to God’. ‘Commit to the call’. ‘Give’. ’Let’s pray together’. ‘Write down your response’. ‘Let’s stand and praise’.
PS PHIL PRINGLE