The greatest hindrance we place before our audience is the trap of assumption.
- You get up on stage for a weekend service, tell people to open up their Bible and flip to that one story that only insiders or well-read believers know about, and say “remember when…”
In one fell swoop, you have divided your audience in half – those that know, and those that want to know. You make knowledge and information just slightly out of reach for your audience as a whole, and instead of speaking to the masses, you target the few.
You probably didn’t even do it on purpose.
But you did it. And you’ve most likely been doing it for a long time.
It’s hard to speak to the masses as a whole. You want to convey a message of hope and of depth, and it’s often difficult to do both of these things at once, unless you’ve had practice.
While you don’t want to dumb down messages, you do want to make sure you bring everyone into the story.
How can you kill assumptions and communicate clearly to the masses? We want you to wrap your head around the idea of taking your top shelf ideas and making them bottom shelf accessible. Here are a few ideas for you to walk away with.
- Simplify Everything. Some say that in order to do this, you need to speak as if you are speaking to a sixth grader. Look – the average audience is not full of sixth graders on a Sunday morning; please don’t think you need to cater to them. What we would recommend is having a simple outline with a consistent thought throughout your message. A quality sermon is one that starts with the end in mind, and takes you on a journey that expounds upon the initial concept. That’s what a quality story does, and how we’ve been communicating for thousands of years via oral tradition. As humans, we really get that.
- Drop the Lingo. It’s weird to step into a church and have things floated out there like renumeration and consubstantiation. While Google is readily available for your entire audience, you don’t want to make it a weekly practice to drive your audience to Google, just so they can understand your message. Keep your outline simple, and your words simple as well. PS: Your internal audience doesn’t even like using these words, so please don’t assume your external audience will want to hear them too.
- Challenge Them. Just because you are simplifying things and speaking the masses language doesn’t mean you have to dumb it down. In fact, our current culture wants to be challenged on their ideas. We are seeking truth on a scale never before seen, and therefore want to pursue the truth on our own. Your job is to open up new ideas on the truth of scripture to your audience and point them in a direction where they can take it further on their own and in community. In practical terms, this means crafting a message that doesn’t end with your sermon, but rather takes it home with them where they can find out on their own if what you are saying lines up with the Bible and resonates in their life. If your message ends on a Sunday, then so will their engagement. Make sure you bring it home with them.
We aren’t the best at this. In fact, we have to try pretty hard to make it happen. And that’s ok. Communication is something that comes naturally for some, while others have to work really hard at it. These three ideas can help you communicate your message to the masses, but it’s void if it isn’t complemented with someone who actively lives them out. For that, we recommend you give a listen to Chris Brown at North Coast Church or download his most recent message on iTunes.