February 23, 2012 Tony Morgan

10 Ways to Keep Me Engaged in Your Message

I have a lot of teaching pastors that follow my writing. You are professional talkers. You spend most of your work week figuring out what you’re going to say. Then, you spend most of your time in front of your biggest audience on Sunday morning actually saying it.

Let’s not forget, though, you’re the professional. I am not. You know more than I do. Just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you are effectively sharing that wisdom. I’ve tuned out a lot of smart people in my life. You can blame me for not staying engaged in your message. (I’m sure your problem is really my problem.)

Just in case you want my advice, though, I found this list in my archives. I wrote this several years ago, but the principles still apply. Here’s some advice to keep guys like me (who aren’t as smart as guys like you) stay engaged in your message.

10 Ways to Keep Me Engaged in Your Message

  1. Be real. Let people see the actual human inside you. Most times that will occur through your personal stories.
  2. Talk like normal people talk. I didn’t grow up in the church, so I don’t understand when you talk with a Christian accent.
  3. Use humor. If you don’t make me laugh, I’m probably going to tune you out. By the way, the best humor is revealed through your everyday life.
  4. Don’t tell me what to think. Lead me on the journey toward truth, but let me reach my own conclusions. In other words, don’t try to sell it.
  5. Be honest. If I think you’re credible, there’s a better chance I’ll think your message is credible.
  6. Avoid being too polished. In fact, I love it when you leave your prepared statements and share anything off the cu
  7. Reveal your weaknesses. As silly as it may seem, it makes me smile when I hear about your mistakes. It helps me to respect the areas where you are gifted.
  8. Be brief. Shorter is better. I’m probably only going to remember one or, at the most, two things that you say.
  9. Make me smart. I don’t care how smart you are, but I like it when you make me feel smart. That’s easier when you use small words and make it easy for me to apply what you’re teaching.
  10. Tell me why I should care. Help me understand why I should listen. If you don’t help me understand why it’s relevant to my life, I’ll to be thinking about my next blog post or my next tee time or my favorite 80s slow dance songs.

I’ve never had a seminary course on preaching, so I really don’t know anything about what it takes to prepare a good sermon. I think I’m pretty knowledgeable, though, when it comes to keeping people like me alert and engaged. Hopefully this helps you help people like me.

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Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, theunstuckgroup.com. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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