In this series I’m asking Andy Stanley some questions about preaching but I’m cheating when I say that: I’m reading his book (Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication
) and generating my questions that he answers in his book.
OK, you are you; Andy is Andy; John Ortberg is John Ortberg; Fleming Rutledge is Fleming Rutledge; Phyllis Tickle is Phyllis Tickle; Jon Tyson is Jon Tyson; I could go on but you get my point. Each of these preachers has a style and a quite unique style too.
Which leads many of us to this (rationalized) justification: “I preach my way, they preach their way.” Which means: “Leave me alone.” Which means: “I’m not open to learning how to be a better preacher.” Which means: Read Andy’s chapter on style.
What are some styles of current preachers you observe?
So, Andy, what do you have to say about style?
Here’s what he says: (1) You must learn to see what works, and learn to see what works for you.
But, and this is a big and good point Andy makes: (2) being yourself is not an excuse for poor communication.
Yes, be yourself but be the best communicator yourself can be! (3) Keep on getting better.
What do you do to make sure you are improving your preaching?
The best lesson I learned about preaching, well at least in the top three, was a lesson about style and it came from pace. I have a natural excuse: I’m a professor. We can bog down in details and proof and it can go on and on and we can offer, say, five or six Bible references to prove our point … and we can and we do … and we lose the audience sometimes. I learned this lesson from my editor at Paraclete, Lil Copan, who once told me that I needed to stop convincing my audience and start trusting that they believed me. Then she said it, “Just explain it. Just explain what it says. Don’t break it apart into all its pieces and then inductively prove it all. Your audience trusts you to tell them what it says.”
Of course, this can go to far but it was a valuable lesson and it changed my preaching from having sections that bogged down in proof — and sometimes we need this but my “style” got stuck in it — to keeping a better pace of interest.