We’ve probably all been in situations when we knew a speaker was “phoning it in.” It was evident by the lack of energy, outdated examples, or lack of relevant application.
We don’t want to find ourselves in that speaker’s shoes! Audiences are perceptive, so we want to always bring our best. When we feel worn out with an old message, we have a decision to make. Do I refresh this message or retire it?
Sometimes a message needs to be retired, or deleted, from our working list. A new direction in ministry will often determine this. I’m in a new place that requires me to evaluate my messages to decide what stays and what goes. If it doesn’t fall under the umbrella of my new tagline, it needs to go.
But some of my older messages can be updated with a fresh look at Scripture that will shift the focus in a way that both stays true to Scripture (essential!) and aligns with my new tagline.
The first step I always take in updating an old message is to return to the focal passage on which the message is based, and I ask God to help me approach it as if I’d never seen it before. I ask Him to show me anything new that I need to learn about the passage. A couple of the tools I use as I study:
- BibleGateway is one of my go-to resources when I’m studying Scripture. I use it to:
- Read my passage in many different translations.
- Do word studies of key words in my passage.
- Read multiple commentaries so that I know what some trusted theologians have said about the passage. Their thoughts keep my theology true and often spark my creativity!
- A three-step Bible study tool to dig deeply into the passage. I use this simple but powerful tool personally and share it with all my Message Development Coaching clients. In its simplest form, the three questions are:
- What does it say?
- What does it mean?
- How do I apply this?
Once I’ve dug deeply into the treasure trove of Scripture, I pray and ask God one question, “Of all this rich information, what’s the one thing you want my audience to know?”
These are the exact steps I went through the first time I wrote the message, but I’m always astounded at how God shows me something new when I seek Him. I think about it like this: Scripture is a multi-faceted jewel. It’s consistent and beautiful all the way through, but when you hold it up to the Light, you’ll often see one of the sides that you had never seen before.
That’s the most important source of updated content. Some other ways to update your messages include:
- Replace old stories with new ones
- Work on the flow
- Identify felt needs in your audience and connect one to your message.
The timeless truths burning in our hearts don’t change, but our messages need to change over time, keeping our flame burning to deliver God’s Truth to our audiences.
Amy does Message Development Coaching which is creating a new message from scratch, but she also does Written Message Evaluation in which she give you both written and oral feedback in a coaching call. Click here to schedule a free consultation if you’re interested in more information!