Communicating for a Change – Developing a Single Point

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The second half of chapter 12 is all about how you develop your one point to its fullest. Here is his process of developing a one point message (p.106):

  • Dig until you find it
  • Build everything around it
  • Make it stick

Dig until you find it:
He uses the term dig because he sees sermon preparation as a “discovery process”. “Preparation involves discovering what the text says and what it doesn’t say, what we wish it would say, what we didn’t expect it to say.” (p.106). Again, we aren’t trying to make scripture fit our message. We are trying to take the message of scripture and present it accurately and effectively.

As you dig the one point begins to emerge from your study. You don’t normally start off knowing what that one point is. Instead it develops during the sermon preparation process and it hits you what you are really trying to say. It is easier to start with your point in mind. Some situations call for exactly that (as he explains on .107). But often when we start with our point in mind we make everything fit the point rather than letting the text tell us what the point is. Dr. Bland at Harding Grad called that jacking your point up with a text. If you are picking a point before you allow scripture to give it to you then you have the cart before the horse. You are then trying to back up what you are saying with scripture rather than trying to communicate what scripture is trying to say on its own.

Build Everything around it:
One of the most challenging parts of sticking with one point is what Stanley calls clearing out the clutter. Once you know what the single point is you you have the challenge of sidelining all those other good ideas you have in your notes for another day. Don’t chase rabbits and stick to the things that will take people where you are trying to get them. He says this takes discipline. I agree! He says, “If you don’t take time to reorient your message around the one thing, it will get lost amongst the other things.” (p.110)

Make it stick:
If you have heard Andy Stanley speak you already know what this is about. He always has a single phrase that sums up the message. He wants people to remember it. He calls this his “sticky statement” and says it has to be “short and memorable.” (p.111). This statement serves not only to focus his audience but to focus himself in what he is communicating on Sunday. This is key because he doesn’t really use notes when he preaches. According to this book his powerpoint use is sparing. He has structured his speaking in a way that he prepared in a way that makes his message memorable so he can be able to present it in a memorable way to his audience.

Being a “Burden Bearer”:

The last thing he talks about in chapter 12 is what he calls being a “burden bearer.” What he means by that is that any given message worthy of being communicated to an audience of any size has to have that one thing the speaker, preacher, etc feels they have to get off their chest…

that one message, idea, principle, or truth that had to be delivered at all cost. The one thing isn’t just information. It is not just a carefully crafted phrase. It is literally a burden. It is a burden that weighs so heavily on the heart of the communicator that he or she must deliver it. (p.113)

How do you know what this is? He says it comes from asking yourself the question “‘What is the one thing I must communicate? What is it that people have to know?’ If you don’t have an answer to that question, you aren’t ready.” (p.114). Fair enough, right? I mean, if we don’t feel the burden can we expect them to? Can we expect them to be convicted if we aren’t? He says this is what puts “passion to preaching”. I don’t know about you but I needed to hear that.

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