This May 11 – 13 I will be leading a retreat for communicators in Dana Point CA. At this retreat we will consider three significant responsibilities of every communicator:
Preparing yourself. Preparing your message. Protecting yourself.
Here are a few things we will be unpacking that have the potential to take a message from good to great.
1. Powerful communication starts with consecration.
It often takes me nearly as long to prepare myself as a communicator as it does the message I’m communicating. It is so easy for me to get sidetracked by side projects as well as people’s applause and criticism. So for about 72 hours before I stand on a stage to preach the message of God’s Word, I give attention to my interior world. I realize I will never stand on the stage as a perfect man, but I can be pure and consecrated and congruent with the heart of God.
When I am pure, not perfect, I believe God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, creates a bridge of trust between me and the audience that I could never engineer on my own.
In short, God gives me favor.
God causes people to trust a consecrated communicator. And trust is an intangible and invisible element that must be present if people are going to take action and change their lives.
In our communicators circle in May, we will spend time talking about how we prepare ourselves not just our message.
2. Simple preaching and shallow preaching are not the same.
I have learned through experience and observation that “shallow” preaching is easy and “simple” preaching is hard.
Many communicators are accused of being shallow when they have actually taken considerable time to study, pray and prepare so they can make a complex subject simple.
It’s not easy to make complex things simple.
It takes tremendous effort and skill. And the effort required to move from shallow preaching to simple preaching should never be confused.
Here are a few distinctions between the two:
A shallow message is a result of lazy preparation.
A simple message is a result of meticulous preparation.
A shallow message is preceded by distraction.
A simple message is preceded by focus.
A shallow message leads to debate.
A simple message leads to obedience.
It is our job as communicators of God’s Word to make complex things simple, not shallow. There is a BIG difference, and we will talk about preparing the message much more at the communicators circle retreat in May.
3. It is possible to be over-prepared.
When I was a a young man and just entering the ministry, I heard a pastor that I respected talk about his preparation for preaching. One of the things he mentioned is that he never stepped onto the stage to speak without having previously preached through his message 10-15 times off stage earlier in the week. As a new pastor I adopted this habit and lived with it for almost 10 years until I realized its secret downside for me.
I often stepped on the stage
over-prepared and self-reliant.
After ten years, I had gotten so rehearsed, smooth and memorized with the message that I could deliver a passionate and impressive message whether the power of the Holy Spirit was present or not.
So roughly 8 years ago I tweaked one simple part of my message prep cycle. I still read, write, pray and prepare the message meticulously. But now I only preach it two times before I stand on the stage. Going from 10-12 times to two times produced three things in me…
- A spontaneity that is fresh and not planned or rehearsed.
- A sense of anticipation and excitement because I am not tired of the message.
- A feeling of dependence. I realize if God and the Holy Spirit do not show up and bring power to these words, then this message is doomed. I often find myself on my knees pleading to God to inhabit and empower the message instead of simply joining me in my already scheduled presentation!
In our communicators circle retreat in May, we will be considering the fine line between preparation and dependence.
To those of you who are preaching, teaching and communicating God’s Word this week … I am praying for you.
May God give you His wisdom and words.
May you speak boldly for the sake of Christ this week.