Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Report on Communicating for a Change, by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones

As a middle school pastor, the task of putting God’s truths into digestible pieces for 11-14 year olds to understand and apply to their lives can be a little challenging. I’ve read and used both Ken Davis’ book "How to Speak Youth" and Doug Fields & Duffy Robbin's book "Speaking to Teenagers" (Click here to read my review of Doug & Duffy's book). I have recently found another awesome resource called, "Communicating for a Change" by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones. I’m not sure where I heard about the book, but it has been on my “books to read” list for a number of months. I wish I would have read it much earlier. I have two big “takeaways” from the book and one quick thought that I hope to reflect on further at another time.

First, the thought: the opening of this book was more of a “turn off” than a “draw me in” idea. I like that there was an attempt to do something different to make it interesting, as the idea of a preacher learning how to preach from a truck driver was definitely different. But, for me, it just wasn’t a draw. I have to admit that if I hadn’t had some of my local friends recommending the book, I probably wouldn’t have finished it. However, I am very glad that I did. The two things I took away have been huge for me and I started using them immediately when sharing with the middle schoolers.

The first one is the whole idea of “Internalizing the message”- learning my message to the point where I don’t need a lot of notes. Andy stated, “You should be able to sit down at a table and communicate your message to an audience of two in a way that is both conversational and authentic.” I’m a huge note guy – I’ve always had a piece of paper in my hands as I share my thoughts. I have now been challenged by this and hope to be able to put my notes on the music stand and leave them there.

The second thing I took away was from the chapter, “Engage Your Audience”, where Andy and Lane talked about “slowing down around the curbs – the transitions are important”. They shared an important and simple concept for building a message: “ME-WE-GOD-YOU-WE”. Interestingly enough, that is how I’ve put together a number of my messages without realizing I was doing it. The one thing I haven’t done a very good job at is helping my audience go from Me to We, We to GOD, etc. I need to “slow down around the curbs” so I don’t lose my audience.

Overall, this book has reinforced what I have been doing right, challenged me to adjust and not get into a rut when putting together a message. I would recommend this book to anyone who teaches.

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