If there is such a thing as a professional listener I’m it. I never go into a meeting with a church about building without having listened to at-least a sermon or two from the pastor. I’m amazed at how much I can learn about a pastor, his personal interests, his family, and his church by listening to a message or two from his podcast. Podcasts have become a major part of my work.
A couple weeks ago I was preparing for a meeting with a church building committee and I listened to a recent message from the pastor. One of those messages was on stewardship. The pastor had 4 or 5 bottom line messages he was attempting to communicate. Honestly I faded out on him a time or two and had to back up to try and follow him. The one point I do remember however is this one “If you aren’t tithing you’re stealing from God”.
Now I’m not a professional communicator, but I have spoken quite a bit so I’m not completely oblivious to what happens when your best laid plans submit to a moment of high powered emotion. I wonder, however, if the pastor went back and listened to that message what he would hear. Would he hear a message that gives him hope of a better future and makes him want to take action or would he hear something entirely different.
It made me wonder if the pastor listens to his own sermons. I’ve been at North Point Community Church for many years now and someone once told me that Andy Stanley listens to his 9:00 message before the 11:00 service to see what changes he can make to have a bigger impact. That’s commitment to the communication.
Is it possible to listen to a message you’ve given and evaluate it from a professional standpoint while at the time seeing it through the lens of a regular attender, or a first time visitor?
Ask yourself these questions:
Where am I trying to take the listener?
Am I building good on ramps to that destination? (Good stories, relevant analogies)
Am I slowing down in the transitions so I don’t lose them?
Am I being real?
How does the bottom line of this message conflict with the way I live?
Is this something I’m modeling or will start to model? (Be honest with us)
What will they walk away with?
Is the take away clear and compelling?
If change is what you want for us, you have to be will to bring some to your own life. You’re ability to communicate well is one of the critical factors for turning your vision into a reality. I have yet to build a church where the communication wasn’t already good and getting better.
The bottom line is this: if you aren’t listening to yourself, we probably aren’t listening either.