Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra
In my last year at Iowa State, out of obligation I took a speech class. At the time, it seemed like a wildly irrelevant class—why does an economist need to learn how to give a speech? By the time I reached seminary, preaching was not only on my mind, I credited my preaching experience as an elder with helping me to understand my call as a pastor. In a world so desperate to know the love and salvation of Christ, where else can you get 20-40 minutes of people’s undivided attention—especially knowing that your own kids could be sitting in the front row?
In their book, Communicating for a Change, Andy Stanley and Lane Jones focus on seven points needed to communicate effectively. In the first part of the book, they outline the seven points in a truck driving analogy. In the second part of the book, they drive down into the seven points in more detail.
The seven points are:
- Determine your goal—what do you hope to communicate? (33)
- Focus on a single point—if you provide too much information, your audience will not remember anything (39).
- Make a map that helps you travel from information to relationship (44). Stanley talks about ME-WE-GOD-YOU-WE as the map or outline of how to structure a sermon.
This ME-WE-GOD-YOU-WE map requires some unpacking. The ME section explains who you are. The WE section moves from what I am thinking and feeling to what we are thinking and feeling. The GOD section introduces biblical truth into the discussion. The YOU section is about application—what are you going to do about this biblical truth? The final WE section casts a common vision (48-49).
- Internalize the message—“until you can deliver it with no notes, from memory, then it’s not your message” (52).
- Engage your audience emotionally—“You have to connect with your audience around a real need in their lives. Something they feel.” This involves reminding the audience of “tension that they already feel” (58-60). You look for memorable points and go slow on the transition points to keep people engaged (63-64).
- Find you voice. Stanley and Jones observe: “You are not talking to people. You are talking at people.” Your voice is the authentic you—present, vulnerable, the real you. The goal of finding your voice is to be able to take people on a journey, rather than give them a sermon (70-72).
- Find your traction. Delivering a sermon on time every week is hard if you get stuck in the preparation. Stanley and Jones suggest a checklist of questions: 1. What do they need to know? 2. Why do they need to know it? 3. What do they need to do? And 4. Why do they need to do it? (80)
In parsing the first point, Stanley and Jones observe that pastors have really three primary approaches in preaching:
- Teaching the Bible to people;
- Teaching people the Bible;
- Teach “people how to live a life that reflects the values, principles, and truths of the Bible.” (94-95)
Expert multiple choice test takers always go for the longest answer—Stanley and Jones clearly favor the third approach. Their incentive is captured in this brief statement:
“How would you communicate this message if your eighteen-year old son had made up his mind to walk away from everything you have taught him, morally, ethically, and theologically, unless he had a compelling reason not to? What would you say this morning if you knew that was at stake?” (98-99)
Stanley and Jones’ point is compelling and one of the points of the book that I remember most vividly.
Andy Stanley is the founder of North Point Ministries in the Atlanta area, a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, and he author of numerous books. Lane Jones is also of North Point Ministries and a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and a Christian author.
Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones is a book recommended to me by my pastor when I started entered seminary and began preaching for myself. The book is engaging, easy to read, and proved to be a great help in preaching.
Stanley and Jones Preach Communication
Other ways to engage online:
Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com