Can You Share Your Vision in An Elevator Speech?

ElevatorThere are often crucial moments when we have an opportunity to be vision-casters with people, one-on-one. It may be a car ride making a visit, coffee with a fellow member, or a staff meeting with five extra minutes at the end. It begs the question, could I state my vision for my church if I only had a few floors to travel in an elevator with someone?

You see, vision is great, but it needs to be transferrable. Members of a church should be able to share their church’s vision with their friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors, but they can only share a vision that has been concisely articulated from their leadership. And a vision isn’t “reaching people” or “glorifying God.” Those are eternal purposes, universal to every church. A vision (in an elevator speech format) would be more like…

We’re going to be a church that wraps our arms around the broken with an abundance of both truth and grace. We’ll have a multiplying network of small groups where people can really bear each other’s burdens. And we’ll gather in the middle of the marketplace for passionate worship and relevant teaching each week. The community will be better because we’re here – marriages will be fixed, education will improve, and people with all kinds of hurts, habits, and hang-ups will find healing and recovery in a new life with Jesus.

That’s my elevator pitch. What’s yours?

photo credit: nycbone

6 Ways to Abuse Your Freedom of Speech and 6 Ways to Respect It

I believe in free speech. I’m glad it’s the very first thing we added to the United States Constitution. I’m all for the freedom of the press, and I think blogging, social media, and even email (as a mass distribution weapon) are all great ways to exercise this freedom. These new technologies level the playing field and allow the huddled masses to become citizen journalists. This is all good.

The only problem with freedom is our tendency to abuse it. I manage communications and correspondence for a large organization, one that literally has contacts in every single nation in the world. Every single day, I review what is being said to and about our organization and its leadership across multiple platforms and channels, and having done this every day for quite some time now, I’ve reached a solid conclusion about the availability of communication tools today…

The faster, easier, and cheaper it becomes to communicate, the more readily we will abuse our freedom of speech, having felt empowered by tools we may not understand.

Let me give you some examples that I see every single day…

  • Spreading rumors through mass-distribution lists via email without checking sources by the mere click of a mouse.
  • Attacking someone’s tweet with another tweet by typing less than 140 characters and hitting the ‘tweet’ button.
  • Posting a picture without someone’s permission on a public Facebook profile or page.
  • Taking potshots at leaders on message boards when I have no expertise to substantiate my opinions.
  • Firing off an email response to confront a co-worker about a difference of opinion.
  • Writing a blog post exposing someone’s error and ranting about it without giving them a chance to explain.

This problem grew with the advent of email, and with the birth of blogging, some took it upon themselves to publicly police the world and their areas of interest. Often the very people being attacked didn’t have access to the tools to “blog back.” But now we do, and the problem hasn’t gotten any better.

This kind of quick-fire approach to spouting our opinions has created a culture of criticism. And while criticism ought to have its proper place, if we aren’t careful we will come to define ourselves by all the things we are against, don’t like, and rant about.

So rather than abusing our freedom of speech, I propose we respect it. And here are some tips for doing so…

  1. Listen, and then listen again, before reacting.
  2. Think before speaking.
  3. Show empathy by putting yourself in the shoes of the one you are about to criticize.
  4. See past what you disagree with to the heart and the history of the human being on the other side.
  5. Never confront personal issues by email or social networking… ever! You need verbal and visible communication too.
  6. Light some candles. Don’t just curse the darkness.

See something that gets you fired up? Do something positive about it before going on a rant against it. Speech is free. And it’s also cheap and easy these days. Therefore, it’s easier than ever to abuse and harder than ever to respect. But if we’re willing to respect it, we might just be able to change the world with it.

What Sets Preaching Apart from Other Public Speaking?

My favorite classes at Western Kentucky University weren’t the Religious Studies courses (my major), or even the History courses (my minor). My favorite classes were in the area of speech and professional communication (what I wish had been my major). I grew up super-shy like almost every other Pastor I know, but have grown to love speaking to crowds of people. I’m a student of public speaking, in fact.

But when I enter the pulpit to preach on Sundays, something is different. It’s more than a speech somehow. I think there are several factors that cause this to be reality.

Continue reading What Sets Preaching Apart from Other Public Speaking?

Boring Preaching Is A Crime

on the train to Sergiyev PosadNo, this is not a post about the loss of our religious freedom – it’s a reflection on a quote I’ve looked at many times since I first wrote it down about nine years ago at a conference on preaching…

If you think the gathering of biblical facts and standing up with a Bible in your hand will automatically equip you to communicate well, you are desperately mistaken. It will not. You must work at being interesting. Boredom is a gross violation, being dull is a grave offense, and irrelevance is a disgrace to the gospel. Too often these three crimes go unpunished and we preachers are the criminals. ~ Charles Swindoll

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Pastors: Don’t Forget to Sharpen Your Public Speaking Skills

Pastors have a bad habit of forgetting that we are ultimately communicators. We fall into the pattern of preaching and presenting God’s Word the way we always have, or the way other preachers always have. That’s why we get made fun of! That’s also one of the reasons people don’t listen to us.

In addition to studying God’s Word deeply and serving people all week, we also need to become students of the arts of persuasion, communication, and public speaking. If you can’t connect with the audience on Sunday, you’re already facing a major growth roadblock in your own ministry and in your church’s ability to reach your community.

I wanted to pass on this link to one of my favorite sources of inspiration concerning the art of public speaking. It’s really a condensing of multiple links, all of which are valuable. Check out Best Public Speaking Tips and Techniques: Weekly Review [2009-03-14] and subscribe to their rss feed. And don’t stop being a student of communication – that’s what preaching is all about.

Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking

The title of this post is attention-getting for an obvious reason – most people fear the thought of standing before a group of people and speaking… out loud. I was too, and still am to some degree. When I was a kid, I was painfully and awkwardly shy. In the fifth grade, I had to give an oral report on the life of Will Rogers. I handled it by self-interviewing. I sat in the teacher’s chair and rolled left and right, pretending to be Will Rogers on one side, and something of a Johnny Carson on the other. Did it work? Well I turned red, teared up a bit, and sweated profusely, but I got an “A.” I didn’t have to speak before another audience for about seven years.

Now, I’m a Pastor. I preach three times per week, teach classes, lead Bible studies and small groups, and occasionally speak in a revival or conference. Because of my role, I’ll speak before an audience between 150 and 180 times this year. My church is not large by modern standards, but our Sunday morning crowd often runs about 230 to 250, so there are plenty of potentially intimidating faces to be concerned with.

Continue reading Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking