Friday, March 8, 2013

10 Steps to Creating and Delivering Solid Messages

Creating new and fresh messages on a regular basis can be a somewhat daunting task in the busy life of the hard-working youth pastor. Here is a simple 10-step process to help you ensure that you are investing the time and effort necessary to deliver a solid message each time you speak.

1. Pray - What does God want to say?

Usually, this is the most overlooked step in the process. It's easy to try and take a shortcut on this one. Resist the temptation. The work you do in communicating the Word of God to students is too important. When in doubt, remember what MC Hammer said, "We've got to pray just to make it today."

2. Study - What does the Word of God say?

I believe in exegesis over eisegesis. It is imperative that we take the time necessary to see what God is saying from the text rather that us reading our own ideas, thoughts, and assumptions into the text. Let's be sure that when we speak our message is Biblical.

3. Brainstorm - What is everything I could say?

In this step, you write down every idea that comes to your mind surrounding what you feel like God wants you to say. Whether you write each idea on an index card, a Post-It note, or your iPad, no thought is a stupid thought (at this point). Be sure to include specific illustrations, stories, quotes, supporting scriptures, and one-liners.

4. Theme - What is the one thing I should say?

This is the one main point of your talk. Each message you deliver should have one main theme. You should be able to summarize it in one sentence. If you find yourself with multiple themes, cut it down to one.

5. Refine - What should I not say?

Go back to your brainstormed index cards and remove all of those ideas that don't fit with your singular theme. Then, organize the body of your talk with the remaining ideas and thoughts in a logical and interesting flow.

6. Opening - What is the first thing I should say?

Spend some time thinking through how you want to open your message. Will you open with a personal story? Should you open with an attention-grabbing video or statistic? Always work toward a strong opening and introduction. If you begin your talk in a weak or boring way, you will have lost the students' attention from the get-go and it is hard to get it back once you have lost it.

7.  Closing - What is the last thing I should say?

Be sure to finish strong. People typically remember the last thing you say. Ensure that you have included the main theme somewhere in your closing as well as any application of the message you have shared.

8. Rehearse - How should I say everything?

Aside from skipping prayer, if there is a step that youth workers are notorious for short-changing it is rehearsing and practicing the message. Rehearsal is crucial to figuring out the HOW of what you are saying. At which points during your message will you pause to add emphasis? How will you purposefully move to add character to the stories you tell? What are you going to do with your hands? Not only does rehearsing help you answer these different questions, it also allows you to get comfortable with the flow of your talk so your communication is as seamless as possible.

9. Deliver - Now say it.

Now that you have studied and prepared well, deliver the message God has given you allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your audience.

10. Review - How could I say it better next time?

Reviewing is an integral part of the message creation process. When you allow feedback from the students, leaders, and even yourself, you will be the kind of youth leader who is constantly growing and improving in the area of communication. If possible, use video recording to review from time to time so that you can evaluate not only what you said or how you sound, but also how well you communicated the message nonverbally.

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