Let’s face it, our time is valuable and so it only makes sense that we would want any and all of our communication to be effective. People today have so many options of who they are going to listen to, read, and study that if we aren’t on the ball they will just go somewhere else. A few months ago I decided to evaluate the effectiveness of my communication style. I just knew there was room for improvement. One of the books I landed on was by Andy Stanley. The reason I landed on this book was because if you have ever heard Andy Stanley speak you know how effective he is at communicating. The man is gifted. When I saw he had a book out on how to communicate I couldn’t resist. His book, Communicating for a Change: 7 Keys to Irresistible Communication is a game changer for me. This is a must read book for anyone involved in teaching, preaching, or communicating to groups of people in general. It is important to know that this is not just a book for preachers. Preaching will have the most immediate and obvious application because that is his angle but it would also be helpful in making our teaching, blogging, and other forms of communication more effective because these principles are pretty universal. There are a few points I want to share from this book that will hopefully motivate you to want to pick it up and improve the way you communicate (if you need to as much as I do).
First, you have to know what your goal is. If we don’t know what the sermon is actually trying to accomplish then neither will the people in the audience. I first learned this at Harding Grad with Dr. Bland. He always made us right a focus statement and a function statement about our sermon. Stanley puts less emphasis on teaching Bible to people than he does “teaching people how to live a life that reflects the values, principles, and truths of the Bible.” (p.95). The difference between those two things in tremendous. We can teach disconnected truths with no concern for its implications on real life or we can engage people where they are with truths from God’s word in an effort to change the way people live, think, etc. Stanley writes, “In short, my goal is change. I want them to do something different instead of just think about it.” (p.95). His point is we can teach biblical truths all day but if it isn’t leading to life change in our hearers then we have missed the mark as communicators (unless you audience is perfect, of course). The only way to accomplish that is to purposefully consider that need in the preparation process. If it isn’t in the preparation it won’t be in the pulpit.
He asks these questions, “So what’s your goal, How do you define success? Which concerns you more, how you did on Sunday or what your people are doing on Monday? And if is the latter, does your approach to communicating support what you are trying to accomplish? Or does it compete?” (p.98). If we don’t have answers to those questions, chances are we have room for improvement.
The motivation to read this book doesn’t start with the how to’s (although those are really good and I will mention some in a later post or two). The motivation starts with the humility to critique ourselves and ask how effective we have been vs. how effective we could be if we were willing to evaluate and make needed changes. It is deadly to assume we have no room for improvement or that the method we have always used is the only method we will ever use regardless of what the situation or audience calls for.
I am going to spend a little more time in this book here on the blog but first I want to convince you that it is worth a read. The nuts and bolts of what makes Andy a powerful and effective communicator are great but they won’t do us any good as communicators unless we realize our methods may need some refining, focusing, and revamping. If you are willing to take an honest look, listen to what others are doing, and try things out then this book and some of the posts that will follow are for you.