“Hey, Pete, how long have you been a church goer?”
“Man, the week I was born, so my parents told me, my mother was in church the next Sunday, and I was with her!”
“A little exaggerated your mother, eh”
“I guess. But, it just goes to show that I don’t remember when I never was a church goer. But, why did you ask anyway?
“Well, with all your experience of going to church, and with all the sermons, lessons, Bible stories, little talks, faith stories, and testimonies that you have heard, what kind of advice would you give to the person who wants to connect with the people in the pew?”
“That is quite a question. I am not sure I can say much. Aren’t there all kind of books that tell people how to communicate in church talks. I don’t know that I have anything to say that would be of help.”
“Well, you may be right about there being plenty of books. And, you could also add magazine articles and web blogs to the mix. But, I want to know what you think, on the basis of having been a church goer for so long.”
“Well, I’ll give it a shot, but it may not be very profound. If it helps, fine.
“At the top of the list – tell stories, lot of them. That is what people remember. They don’t have to be complicated, but they do have to be told well. You want the folk to have a picture in their mind of the people in your stories. And, if you put words in the mouth of the people in the story, don’t have them all talking the same way. In real life, people don’t all talk the same way, do they?
“I remember as if it were just yesterday a preacher fellow whose sermons were basically just a string of stories that put flesh on the ideas he wanted us to think about. If he was talking about grace, he told stories of gracious people. If he was talking about love, he told stories about what it cost to love, and what joys love brought to someone’s life. If he was talking about Christian marriage, he told stories about people who were committed to each other, how they dealt with disappointment, with illnesses, with losing a job, or losing their spouse to cancer.
“Something else I can mention- make emotional contact with the folk. Our lives are full of emotional experiences. We sense remorse, doubt, failure, accomplishments, victories, defeats, betrayals, falling in love, of anger, of the joy of helping someone – you get the picture. Think of the people who populate the pages of the Bible – their lives run an emotional gamut. For example, think of King David in the Old Testament – what an emotional man he was as he fled from Saul, and later from his son Absalom. David hurt. Are we afraid of pain to the point that our pulpit communication is emotionally shallow? Of course, when stories are told well, they should feed into making emotional connection with listeners.
“BUT, if the speaker uses emotional content to manipulate the audience, that will backfire, as it should.
“That is all I have to suggest at the moment. Hope it helps.”
“Thanks, Pete, it was just what I was looking for.”