Our church’s precious pastor of 27 years just retired, and the search is on for a new shepherd. I have the privilege of being on our pastor search committee, so I’m listening to sermon after sermon. Most are wonderful but some are missing a key component–focus.
This is a blog post that was done at the beginning of our site, but I was reminded as I listen how important it is to start with a single focus. I hope you find this helps as you write your Christmas messages!
Principle 1–Simple (From Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath)
Sticky ideas are simple ideas. Here’s how the Heath brothers define simple:
“…sound bites are not the ideal. Proverbs are the ideal. We must create ideas that are both simple and profound.”
They cite the Golden Rule as the perfect example of a simple, sticky idea. It’s easy to remember, but it could take an entire lifetime to actually live it out.
This idea of keeping our messages simple ties right into Stanley’s book. After studying scripture, researching commentaries and filling pages of notebooks with facts, ideas and inspiration, we need to ask God, “What is the one thing that you want my listeners to remember? What one life-changing thing do You want them to know?” These questions help us to find The One Thing that God wants us to communicate to our audience.
How many times have you walked away from hearing a speaker thinking “That was great!”? How many times could you still remember the point of the message a week later? a month later? Six months later? That’s the problem with messages that have many points. They may seem wonderful to listen to, but are they life-changing for the listener? I believe that a one-point message can be engaging and challenging as well as life-transforming.
I’ll give you an example. At She Speaks this year, Lysa TerKeurst gave the Friday night message. I can still tell you the point of the message from 2 months ago. “Your reactions determine your reach.” It was a sticky message that is still messing with my life. Not only do I remember the main point, but I remember the scripture Lysa used and many of the stories, because they were all wrapped around that one point.
So try it. It’s a really simple but not easy way to construct a message. Anybody who makes it looks easy has really spent hours working on a short, simple, memorable proverb. See what you can do with focusing your messages on one compelling point.