It’s been five years since I read Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones. Stanley and Jones propose a model for preaching one-point sermons. I embraced the approach immediately. I preached my first one-point sermon right after I started reading the book (I had completed the first two chapters, as I recall). In 2007, I wrote a post about the book, One-Point Preaching (the most visited post on this site).
Over the years, I have read the book a couple more times. Each time helps me to process something that I hadn’t before, or remember something that I had forgotten. My goal has always been to start with the approach laid out in the book and modify it over time as I learn and develop.
The heart of Stanley’s approach is the ME-WE-GOD-YOU-WE map (or outline).
The ME part is a growing edge for me (although, Stanley points out in the book that speaking to the same group of people week after week lessens the need of including the ME section all the time). But the goal is to establish common ground.
I generally think of the opening ME-WE as the opening or introduction. In my outline, I think of it as the problem or puzzle.
My biggest weakness is the closing WE. I don’t often finish the sermon with this vision casting section (although I probably do this to some degree at the end of the service with the dismissal with blessing). I offer application in the YOU section, then wrap up with prayer. I need to improve my use of the closing WE.
Late last year, I started veering from this approach a little. I still tried to convey a main point, but I didn’t always craft a sticky statement. I believe there’s always a better way, so I may have been trying to shake things up, maybe I was trying to modify the approach. Whatever the case, up until a few weeks ago, I felt like I had been drifting for several months.
Preaching is hard work because of having to create something out of nothing … every week. And with the one-point preaching approach, that includes creating memorable sticky statements!
Reflecting on my sticky statements, some turn out better than others. I re-read some and wonder what I was thinking, while others have stuck with me to this day. The point is to capsulize the message in a way that’s memorable without sounding trite (Stanley says it’s better to be clear than clever).
The two biggest results of this approach for me have been 1) preaching with minimal notes, and 2) an increase in creativity. Greater focus leads to increased creativity. And building everything around one point, following a basic map, allows me to use minimal (if any) notes.
Well, I am excited about continuing to grow as a communicator (see Developing the Preaching Gift). One of the things that has helped me get back on track and start enjoying preaching again (as well as reaffirming my commitment to one-point preaching, ironically) is work by Nancy Duarte.
Duarte’s work is both fascinating and, I believe, game-changing. I also see a lot of similarities between what she presents and what Stanley and Jones present in Communicating for a Change. So, watch for posts in the coming weeks, reviewing Duarte’s book and comparing it with Stanley’s approach. Let’s see where this goes!