3 Differences Between Powerful And Perfect Talks

Over the past six months, I have consulted with churches and communicators about the effectiveness of their messages.

Some messages are incredibly powerful, and some are not, which leads to the question, “What is the difference between a perfect message and a powerful message?”

Let me answer this question through these lenses:   Continue reading “3 Differences Between Powerful And Perfect Talks”

5 Things To Remember When Team Teaching

Recently my wife, Rene Clark, and I did some team teaching at Parkview Christian Church. Parkview is a multi-site church of 9,000 weekend attenders in the Chicagoland area where I am stoked to be a teaching pastor.

We have spent time teaching together in the past, but I have never shared any of our rhythm for preparing, praying and presenting as a team. So … here you go, friends:

Our message on LEVITICUS / “Take Me To The Cleaners” and 5 things to think about when team teaching:

1. Know your subject more than you know your notes.

I believe Carey Nuiewhof is the first person I heard talk about how a communicator should know their subject not just their notes.

This becomes even more true in team teaching because you must bounce off each other, and you alone do not have control of the flow at all times. There are times you must build a bridge in team teaching and insert something you know about the subject that appears nowhere in your notes!

2. Transitions matter.

It is much more difficult to team teach than teach alone, in my opinion. But team teaching also adds an element that a solo person teaching can rarely achieve. That being said, when you are teaching with another person you must take time to think through transitions.

You will each have different …

  • voice
  • inflections
  • intensity
  • content

And as much as possible these things need to match up when you make the hand off. This is not always easy to do as you will see in our message on Leviticus. We still have some work to do in transitions.

But we do work hard and spend much time talking through transitions so we can keep things as congruent as possible for the congregation.

3. Create space for each person to prepare on their own.

No two people prepare themselves or their message in the same way.

You should take time to prepare your sections of the message on your own … but also spend time during the preparation process bouncing ideas, intros, endings and illustrations off of each other. This is the genius of team teaching.

In addition, when it’s an hour before go time … each person prepares their heart, mind and soul in different ways.

Allow time to speak through the message together 2-3 hours before the message arrives so that when you are 30-60 minutes out, each person can come to God and prepare their heart, mind and soul in their own unique way.

4. Do a walk through.

When you are on stage by yourself … you are by yourself.

When you add another person to the often small stage space, it can make even little movements awkward. As you will see in our Leviticus “Take Me To The Cleaners” message, we had to make sure we were not stepping in front of or behind each other at odd times. This is super distracting for the congregation.

As you will see our movements were pretty choreographed as we spent time on the stage before the message actually “blocking out” our movements like a theater or dance production.

5. Know who you are talking to.

There will be three potential audiences for your message in most churches these days.

You will be talking to …

  • Each other
  • The congregation that is in the room
  • Those who are watching at a multi-site campus or online

Therefore, it is important to makes notes concerning who you are talking to during each sentence or section.

Most of the time you will be talking to those in the room or the camera that is capturing the video for the sites and online audiences. This requires that you not regularly look at or bounce off the person who is standing just a few feet from you on stage.

Then there are certainly times when teaching as a team that you want to interact mainly with the person you are teaching alongside.

This is part of the special sauce of team teaching.

Interacting with each other adds intimacy; often humor and spontaneity will make teaching as a team powerful and meaningful in ways that teaching alone can rarely match.

71 Curious & Tweetable Leadership Axioms

The Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit took place the past few days on August 6th & 7th, 2015. I have set aside this weekend to marinate on these leadership quotes & principles.

My prayer is that as you seek to live and lead curiously,
these leadership axioms will also add value to your life.

Here are 71 great quotes and inspiring leadership principles from this year’s summit!
(Special thanks to Jeremy Jernigan, Brian Dodd and others in the Twitterverse for some of these nuggets.)

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Don’t Be The Next ______

For much of my early ministry life, I was being told, you are going to be the “next” rather than the “first.” I believe this all started when I was at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky.  I was an up and coming youth pastor, and it was natural and meant to be a compliment to compare me to leaders who were one or two decades beyond me. While at Southeast working with Bob Russell and Dave Stone (two guys I love, respect and admire greatly) I must have been told 50 times …

“You are going to be the next Bob!”
“You are going to be the next Dave!”

Again, I respect and admire those guys greatly, and the comparison was truly a compliment – but to me it also felt like a box. To me, it seemed like I would never become who I needed to be if I did indeed become the next _______.

That is a slice of what led our family to leave a great job and a great church and move from Louisville, Kentucky to Los Angeles, California to plant a new church. I didn’t want to be the “next” anyone, I wanted to be the “first” and only Todd Clark. And for the past 15 years, I have been on a curious journey of becoming who God intended me to be.

About a week ago …

Continue reading “Don’t Be The Next ______”

4 Ways To Amp Up Your Creativity As A Communicator

Great communicators have the ability to blend content and creativity. In this article I want to talk about the role of creativity in communication. You can have the greatest content in the world, but if you are not creative in your communication or presentation, then you may as well not have the content!

So how do you become more creative? The good news is that anyone can become more creative in communication. Here are four methods to increasing your creativity in communication:

Continue reading “4 Ways To Amp Up Your Creativity As A Communicator”

7 Places For Communicators To Get Great Content

I am just finishing up leading a communicators cohort retreat in Dana Point, CA the past few days.  I wanted to share some of the things we discussed. One of the most common questions I get asked as a communicator is,  “Where do I get my stuff!”

Translation – where do I find great content for communication?

I am not going to tell you what I wish I did.  I am going to just tell you exactly what I do to curate content for my talks each week. In many ways I wish I was more methodical and original but this is what I do!

Here are my seven options for content …

1. The Bible

It doesn’t matter if I am talking to a Christian audience or not the Bible is the foundation of every talk. I do not know where every single verse or characters life story is located.  So I use the free online resources Bible Gateway and Blue Letter Bible study tools almost daily to locate and study the Bible based content I need.

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2. Podcasts

Podcasts are like the commentaries of our day. I remember back when I was in Bible College I marveled at my professors libraries that contained dozens or hundreds of thick commentaries. So much so that when I graduated and began my first student ministry position one of the few things I requested for birthdays and Christmas were thick volumes of commentaries. These commentaries were of course the written thoughts of wise men on certain passages in the Bible.  Today, these thoughts of wise men on certain passages in the Bible are called podcasts. I don’t even really try to search for certain topics. I just listen to podcasts a lot. And as I am listening I keep my Evernote APP open to take notes.

The one caveat to this would be that I treasure my Warren Wiersbe “BE” books. They are a traditional commentary but they are also a constant generator of great content for my talks.

3. Evernote

I keep what I call “5 Lists” on Evernote. I have been compiling these lists of 5 things for about three years and I now have well over 200 separate lists. (Many of which have far more than five items listed.) Whenever I need some relevant content for a talk there is usually a list that fits my subject. Here are just a few of my “5 List” topics…

– 5 Things About Being a Parent
– 5 Things About Starting A New Job
– 5 Ways To Make Memories
– 5 Things Great Leaders Do
– 5 Ways To Become A Terrible Leader
– 5 Truths About The Local Church
– 5 Things About Social Media
– 5 New Authors Everyone Should Read
– 5 Constant Battles For Communicators
– 5 Great Life Verses in the Bible
– 5 Things That Build Great Families

I also use Evernote clipper on my web browser. Whenever I see content that fits one of my upcoming message subjects I just clip it into my Evernote application.

4. Magazines and Papers

I read parts of the USA Today every day. There is always something in there I can either add directly to my weekend message or to one of my Evernote “5 Lists.” I also read the following magazines each month…

– Wired
– Relevant
– Entrepreneur
– Surf (This has nothing to do with messages but it makes my mind chill.)

5. Books

I treat books differently in that I often try to read books that are at the very edge of my interest and intelligence. I like to do this because whenever I can read anything near the “edge” I am stretched. I have never written about this or even tried to describe this before so let me see if I can explain to you what I do.

A recent example of a book that stretched me and was at the edge of my interest was called “Writing on the Wall: Social Media – The First 2,000 Years.”  I have a definite interest in social media but the world history part stretched me. The good new is I was interested enough in the subject of social media to endure the history part and allow myself to be stretched and learn new things.

An example of a book that stretched me and was at the edge of my intelligence was called “Beyond the Idea: How to Execute Innovation in Any Organization.”   This book is a very intellectual look at innovation. I was at the edge of my intelligence quite often. I had to read slow. But my interest in the subject of innovation allowed me to stick with it and as a result my former edge of understanding and intelligence was expanded. I allowed my mind to be stretched because my heart was interested in the subject.

6. Social Asks

From time to time I have had the benefit of having either a full-time paid or several unpaid research assistants. I do not have that at this point in time and frankly in this world we live … I am not sure I need one. Because I feel like I have hundreds!  One of the places I gather content is from my “tribe” on social media. For instance …

– If I am having trouble locating a specific quote … I can post or tweet and usually within minutes someone has sent the full quote to me.
– If I need thoughts on a book … I can post or tweet and get all kinds of thoughts and opinions.
– If I want to know what hurdles parents of toddlers are facing these days … I can just ask my social media tribe and they are thrilled to add their input to the content gathering process.

You cannot (should not) build a whole sermon off a crowd-source model but this is a great way to get relevant information and check the heartbeat of those to whom you will be communicating.  You can test the dexterity and interest of an introduction before you ever get up to speak the message.

7. Google

It is an amazing and scary day in which we live. By just typing a few words you can find hundreds of sites on your subject. This is a blessing and a curse. As it is way too easy to copy and paste a talk together these days.

The problem with a “copy and paste” talk is that it’s a surrogate talk.

What if God wants to work in you just as much as He wants to communicate through you? What if God has something fresh to say through you to other people? How will you know that?  The only way is to spend more time with God than you do with Google.

 

I hope these things help.

How do you locate great content for talks?

 

How To Reach & Keep Families – PART TWO

In the previous article we talked about “WHO” we are trying to reach and what today’s families really look like. In this article we consider five things concerning “HOW” to reach and keep new families at your church.

1. Realize first time visitors no longer exist.

Well, I mean they do exist. They are real people. But when a new person visits your church, though it may be their first time on your campus, they are not on a blind date.

Those who are visiting your church will most certainly check you out online before they attend for the first time. Therefore your digital footprint must be a priority, and two things should be up to date and active:

Continue reading “How To Reach & Keep Families – PART TWO”

3 Ways To Take Your Talk From Good To Great.

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.

Continue reading “3 Ways To Take Your Talk From Good To Great.”

Communicators Retreat in California!

I am stoked to announce a retreat for communicators in beautiful Dana Point, California this May 11 – 13. If you are a lead pastor or teaching pastor I would love for you to consider joining Gene Appel, Dudley Rutherford and me as we consider three significant responsibilities of every communicator:

Preparing yourselfPreparing your messageProtecting yourself.

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There are currently 8 of 14 total spots remaining, so sign up today!

*Updated 3/6/15

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