Preaching

3 Questions to Ask When Speaking To A New Audience

I had just been asked to speak to an audience I had never met. The good news was I had (what I thought was) a killer message in my back pocket. I had delivered it about 2 months earlier and hit “knocked ‘em dead”. It was good stuff. I agreed to speak and added it to my calendar. No prep needed...

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Okay, you’ve probably already guessed. It didn’t go well. I assumed that my new audience was similar enough to my original audience that it would go off without a hitch. I assumed wrong.

It bombed. I paused for laughs, no one laughed. I tried to make it personal with some life application but it was like talking to a room full of sleep-deprived ER nurses. They could have fallen asleep at any moment considering how non-riveting my content was. 

I made a huge assumption that I understood an audience I had never met. We might get lucky every once and a while, but when it does work, it’s more likely that we are just brining our message down to the level it connects with the broadest audience. Not specifically with our audience. Honestly, they deserve more than that. 

To overcome any assumptions we may have, I suggest asking these 3 questions whenever you plan on speaking to a new audience. 

These aren’t rhetorical questions either. 

Get on the phone, shoot out an email and ask. 

  1.  What does this new audience have in common? 

    This could be a demographic question. It could be a life stage question. It could be an occupation question. And if your answer comes back as a bullet point list, that’s even better. The more you can understand about your audience, the better. 
     
  2. Is there something specific you need to address? 

    Rather than both parties (you and the organization asking you to speak) making an assumption about your content, ask if there are any specific issues they were hoping you’d address. This can give you a better sense of what your audience is struggling with. 
     
  3. Is there anything related to the agreed upon topic that they would prefer you did not talk about? 

    What you are really doing with all three of these questions is to identify exactly where your audience is coming from. The more you understand about who they are, the more intimate you can be with your content. 

    By asking this question you make sure you fit into their current speaking plan. You would hate to cover the same thing the last speaker did. 

In the end, you want your audience to feel like you were speaking to each of them as individuals and the best way to do that is to understand who they are. 

Who knows, you might get lucky and only need to tweak that old message to serve the new audience. 

Why Creativity Matters in the Church

The local church has an opportunity to be uniquely local, to contextualize the gospel and address exactly what our community is struggling with.  

This is precisely why am excited to share a guest post with you today by Gabe Kolstad, "Why Creativity Matters in the Church".

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Enter Gabe. 

A lot of people are talking about creativity in church work right now, and it’s raising some tensions in me (and maybe in you too?). We’ve been haggled on both ends of the creativity spectrum over the years. On the one hand we’ve bought into the rationale that says, “God hasn’t called you to be creative – He’s called you to be effective.” Therefore, copy & paste at will. And on the other hand we resonate with the thinking that says “All ministry is local.” Therefore, creative contextualization is the only way to impact a locality. It’s a tough balance to strike, really. And if you add the complexity that multi-site churches bring to the table, this can be a serious monkey on our backs as leaders.

To get some clarity on this issue for myself, I’ve spent some time wrestling with the purpose behind it all. Why be creative anyway? Why does “creativity” even matter in the church?

A THEOLOGICAL REASON
Zooming out a little, we can look at the big picture by seeing God’s own character and activity since the beginning of time. We call God our “Creator.” And the Bible says He created humans “in His image” (to be like Him in character – Genesis 1:26). So logically we can deduce that if we are not “creating” at some level, we are not in alignment with God’s basic design for our existence. You see this in the task God gave the first humans to assign names to all the animals. Yet He did not give them a list of names. They were to make them up! (Not sure I’d want that job). And while it’s true that on the 7th day God rested from His work, in a way He has never stopped creating since. In fact, even the universe is known to be in a continuous state of expansion. New things are being created every day.

How do we apply that to ministry?

Well, for starters, we can be sure that creativity is OK in the church. It is not a waste of time or money, and it is not simply a means to an end. It is a perfectly valid expression of our worship to God, and also an important reflection of our identity as image-bearers of the Creator.

A PRACTICAL REASON
Thankfully there’s also a practical reason for creativity, and here’s what I believe it is:

Creativity Creates Anticipation.

Especially when applied to something as repetitive as church services. Think about it, we do the same thing 52 times a year. Granted, Major League Baseball has us beat in the number of gatherings per year. But we’re not necessarily trying to compete on that point.

Creativity creates anticipation.
— Gabe Kolstad

If you’re like me, you’re already asking the next question: Why does anticipation matter? And here’s where the lights come on for me. Anticipation matters because we are the delivery system for the most important message in the history of mankind, the Gospel. And if we bore people with the Gospel, we are guilty of the greatest crime humanity has ever experienced. Anticipation creates attention, and if there’s one thing God wants people paying attention to, it’s the Good News.

So…what are we going to do about it?

This post originally appear on Gabe's blog, GabeKolstad.com


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gabe is the Lead Pastor at Westside Community Church in Beaverton, Oregon where he serves with his best friends. He has had the privilege of leading Westside through a number of exciting changes, including growth, expansion, and relocation. You can learn more about the story of Westside in the recent book “Hope For Stuck Churches,” available on Amazon. Gabe is a Certified Trainer with Church Leader Insights and a multi-time Advanced Coaching Alumni with Nelson Searcy. He loves seeing leaders discover their potential, grow, and make a lasting difference.

Gabe is married married to his Jr. High Sweetheart, Melissa, and they have 3 children: Dawson, Caitlin, and Caleb. They love great food, traveling and finding new adventures together.

Gabe's articles and posts can be found at www.gabekolstad.com, www.outreachmagazine.com, and www.churchleaders.com.