So I’d like to offer up three principles for effective communication. This is a gritty super-simple list. And I think these principles work no matter the arena that you work in. These are things that I’ve seen, but I’d love your help in refining this list and making it better.
1. Give a specific title
A better title would be something like “Why the Cross Still Matters.” This at least has a measure of direction. It’s going somewhere. Of course, to an unchurched person, and most church people (nowadays), this still doesn’t carry enough of a punch to beckon me to listen.
The second reason why a specific title is necessary is because it will give you direction. I was recently coaching one of my leaders through this process. He knew that he wanted to preach on Isaiah 58. So I asked him, “so what are you going to say about Isaiah 58? What do you want to communicate to the people based on the text?” And he began listing about 4-5 different ideas. I challenged him to be as specific as possible, and to address only one of the issues.
With a title like this you’re addressing a felt need in a very specific way. With a title like this you will have me on the edge of my seat as I listen.
By the way, I believe that every message has a definite question that you’re answering. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing an inductive, deductive, narrative, or expository type message. If you’re not answering or addressing a question of some type, then you’re just giving baseless information. I’m not going to sit before you and listen to you just spew out information. It’s a waste of my time and energy.
And when you frame something in terms of a question, it helps to give your message a razor sharp focus.
2. Use a bullet/big idea
“I have a conviction that no sermon is ready for preaching, not ready for writing out, until we can express its theme in a short, pregnant sentence as clear as a crystal. I find the getting of that sentence is the hardest, the most exacting, and the most fruitful labour in my study. To compel oneself to fashion that sentence, to dismiss every word that is vague, ragged, ambiguous, to think oneself through to a form of words which defines the theme with scrupulous exactness–this is surely one of the most vital and essential factors in the making of a sermon: and I do not think any sermon ought to be preached or even written, until that sentence has emerged, clear and lucid as a cloudless moon” (J.H. Jowett, The Preacher: His Life and Work, p. 133).
3. Apply it clearly
In the story of David: God can use the insignificant moments of your life (being a shepherd) to prepare you for moments of great significance (Bullet).
“Maybe right now you’re in a dead-end job and you think you’re wasting your talents…remember that God can use the seemingly insignificant moments of your life to prepare you for…” (Application)
In the story of Elijah: We often hear God the loudest when we’ve closed ourselves off to distractions (Bullet).
Maybe some of you are having trouble listening to the voice of God. You’re wondering if He still speaks. I want to encourage you that “we often hear God the loudest when we’ve…” (Application)
After you’ve answered the “so what?” you must now answer the “now what?” question.
Tell me what you want me to do. This is usually part of the application. Give me something specific to implement and tell me when I can implement it.
So if you were to make a really simple list of steps for effective communication, what would you add or takeaway from this?