In preaching and public speaking, one of the greatest challenges a speaker faces is how to make the message applicable to his or her listeners. In other words, how to move from information to transformation.
Over the years, I have learned to “think ahead” when it comes to preaching. As I’m researching and writing my message, I try to think ahead to the different types of people who will be in the crowd and the different aspects of life each of them faces.
To jumpstart your move to application, you might consider thinking through how your message applies to one or more of these areas:
- People stuff. How does your main point affect their marriage? How they raise their children? Handle employees?
- Conflict and tension. Does your main point or passage help resolve a conflict or give perspective to a particular tension? Is there an immediate step of action they can take? Is there an underlying principle that will help prevent future tension?
- Pressures of life. How does this message apply to a single mom who is trying to raise three children on two jobs? Does it comfort? Does it provide hope?
- Personal witness. Is there a call to holiness? Does the passage challenge a person to start or stop doing something? Does it deal with honesty? Integrity?
- Resources. If a person better managed their time/money/talent, how would life be different? Is there a resource the listener could use in such a way that models the passage? Is there a resource that is lacking?
- Dreams. Tap into their hopes. Call forth their potential. Ask “what if” questions. “What if everyone was more generous?”
By thinking ahead to these areas, you can help craft good, solid application points that will stick.
What do you think? Are there other areas that you use while preparing a message?