Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Learning from Billy Graham

I am always looking to improve my preaching and over the years have tried to learn from the best. One of my heroes is Billy Graham who, whatever your churchmanship, is undoubtedly one of the most effective communicators of the Gospel. What can learn from him? Here are some helpful pointers:

Flatten The Structure
Graham uses a modified form of Monroe's motivational sequence (see earlier post). He establishes rapport (identification), provides evidence that something is wrong (sin), announces there is hope (Jesus), assures that you can know Him, warns you to accept the consequences of your choice, then invites you to respond now. In classical rhetoric, this is logos.

Simplify The Message
Graham first believed he needed to cover the Bible in every message. Later, in response to his request for advice from Dr. Marcus Sloan (former Anglican archbishop of Sydney, Australia), he realized he could choose a single text, include the cross and resurrection, and call people to faith and repentance.
Though not an expositor, Graham focuses on the kerygma of 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. "There is a built-in power to the cross and the resurrection. It has its own communicative power. The Holy Spirit takes this simple message of the cross with its redemptive love and grace and infuses it into lives with authority and power."
Graham's preaching is directed to common people. His vocabulary is non-technical. His sentences are simple—and run-on at times. His model is Jesus, who used parables. "That is the only way I know how to do it. We must learn to take the profoundest things of the gospel and proclaim them in simplicity. ... We must communicate so people will understand. So preach it with simplicity. …People want simplicity, and I am sure that was one of the secrets of our Lord because the common people heard Him gladly; He spoke their language."

Trust The Infallible Scriptures
Graham often quotes John 3:16. Behind him in stadiums is displayed "John 10:10" or "John 14:6." He seldom seeks to argue logic. He believes "the natural man cannot receive the gospel on his own devices because there is a veil over his mind and heart. This veil can only be penetrated by the Holy Spirit, not my argument or my logic."

However, Graham struggled early with the authority of the Bible. He settled his doubts one night on a tree stump in the mountains and decided to accept it by faith as God's Word. Drawing on Romans 10:17, he trusted God to honour the faithful proclamation of His Word. His sermons are filled with "the Bible says …"
"First of all, I would say communicate the gospel with authority. Preach it with conviction and assurance, knowing that faith cometh by hearing the message and the message is heard through the Word of Christ. … When you quote God's Word, He will use it. He never will allow it to return void. … When I quote Scripture, I know I am quoting the Word of God. It is God's authoritative message to us. It is an infallible book. Let's never depart from that."

Include Fresh Illustrations
Graham often uses recent, personal experiences, but without making himself the centre or the hero figure. When using non-personal material, he is conscientious to give general attribution of the sources of quotes, statistics and published material. He avoids death-bed stories because he believes "it hurts the reputation and effectiveness of the evangelist, especially in America."

Speak To The Heart
Graham speaks with unending compassion. His motivation not only is obedience to God's call, but also love for people. It is demonstrated in deeds (often behind the scenes), as well as the emotion of the sermon. In classical rhetoric, this is pathos.

When discussing 1 Corinthians 2:2 Graham says, "When I stand before an audience—I don't care whether it is in England or in Kenya or Ecuador or wherever it may be—there are certain things I assume are in the audience already. To every group—whether it is at a university or on a street corner, whether it is in Korea or whether it is in a tribal situation in Zaire or in New York City or here in the Netherlands—I know certain psychological and spiritual factors exist. …These include:
1. Life's needs are not totally met by social improvement and material affluence;
2. There is an essential emptiness in every life without Christ, and only God can fill it;
3. There is a cosmic loneliness in people;
4. People have a universal sense of guilt;
5. There is a universal fear of death."

Offer An Early Appeal
Graham begins his appeal to respond very early in his messages. He does not wait until the conclusion. He often tells the listeners during the introduction what he is going to ask them to do.

Apply The Gospel Ethic
Bigotry. Economic disparity. Violence. Environmental abuse. Social injustice. Devaluing human life. Mass destruction. Graham addresses these social issues and more. "We also communicate the gospel by compassionate social concern. This is implied in the love we show others. I believe there is a social involvement incumbent and commanded in the Scriptures. Look at our Lord—we have a responsibility to the oppressed, the sick, and the poor … but the church goes into the world with an extra dimension in its social concern. We go in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. …This is not just humanitarianism. It is compassion and love. We give because God gave."

Live With Consistent Integrity
"All of these assumptions [of effective preaching] can be realized if we preach Christ, backed by a holy life and filled with the Holy Spirit. … Our world today is looking primarily for men and women of integrity, communicators who back up their ministries with their lives. Your preaching emerges out of what you are; we must be holy people.  … The three common areas of Satanic attack against preachers are money, morals and pride; and we will battle them all of our lives." In classical rhetoric this is ethos.

Graham reacted against Sinclair Lewis' Elmer Gantry image of American evangelists who are manipulative, emotional, anti-local church, anti-intellectual and crave money. While in Modesto, California (1948), he and Cliff Barrows discussed all the things wrong with American itinerant evangelism and decided to do something to change it.

Professionally, they incorporated (accountability and publication of all finances) and receive public salaries set and raised by an external board of directors (rather than love offerings, gifts and honorariums). Personally, they hold one another accountable in their private lives. This includes developing humble attitudes, always learning, involving others, receiving counsel, accepting responsibility and admitting wrongs. Graham has walked away from Hollywood offers for fame, business offers for financial prosperity and the prestige of a college presidency.

Exercise The Promise Of Prayer
Since the 1949 Los Angeles tent crusade and all-night prayer sessions, Graham has understood the role of prayer in effective preaching. "Saturate yourself in the Word of God and prayer. … The Holy Spirit responds to the prayer offered to bless the simple, clear message of Jesus—His death, burial and resurrection—when it is proclaimed with confident faith."

With Professor Ellis of Princeton Seminary, Graham affirms, "You are never preaching until the audience hears Another Voice. … We must hear the voice of the Spirit of God. … The filling and anointing of the Spirit of God and preaching with authority is essential to preaching the gospel. … The glorious fact is the Holy Spirit takes the message, no matter how weak, how primitively it is delivered, and communicates it to the heart and mind with power and breaks down the barriers. It is the supernatural act of the Spirit of God. … In the final analysis, it is the Holy Spirit who is the Communicator."

Graham admits preparing a message is hard work. When asked how long it takes to prepare a message, he says, "A lifetime."
(See website on preaching here).

Lent

From the Philo Trust

Lent, the forty days before Easter (not counting Sundays), is a somewhat curious period in the Church’s calendar. Most things in the Church’s year are festivals and we happily talk about celebrating them. Lent is very different: it is a minor-key period which is never ‘celebrated’ but only ‘kept’. Some churches and Christians treat Lent very seriously, while others ignore it entirely.

Even among those who keep Lent, there is no agreement on how it should be kept. Many Christians try to give up something: for instance, chocolate, Facebook or television. It’s even become a period for us to try to break bad habits, almost as if Lent gives us another opportunity to retake those New Year’s resolutions!

Now what exactly is Lent about? One word used by those who observe Lent is ‘preparation’. Lent is about three preparations.

Lent is a preparation for Easter. Easter, with its message of Christ destroying sin and death through his death and resurrection, is the most exciting moment in the Church’s year. Yet we can undercut this note of victory by being so occupied that, amid the frantic busyness of our lives, we carelessly stumble upon Easter. Lent provides us with forty days’ build-up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday that forces us to prayerfully ponder the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. As the best way to appreciate a sunrise is to be there in the darkness before dawn, so the only way to appreciate Easter is to have come to it through Lent. We as Christians are, of course, an Easter people living in a Good Friday world.

Secondly, Lent is a preparation for Existence. A fatal flaw in our culture today is that people do not know how to say ‘no’ to bad things. It is now almost a virtue to give in to every desire that comes upon us. Yet a great element in Christian morality is to be able to say no to wrong desires. Paul, in Titus chapter 2 verses 11 and 12, says this: ‘For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.’ Lent gives us the opportunity to practice resisting harmful and hurtful desires that will continue for life. Trivial as it may appear, a battle won over chocolate or coffee at Lent may help us win a war over lust, lying or loving shortly afterwards.

Finally, Lent is a preparation for Eternity. If you take Lent seriously, then these forty days can seem to be a long and often wearying season in which we never get our own way. Here, for a time, pleasures are put to one side and joys are postponed. But Lent doesn't last. The darkness is broken by the joyful light of the glorious triumph of Easter Day. Here there is a splendid parallel with our lives. For many of us, much of our life seems to take place in what we might call ‘Lent mode’: things do not go as we hope, we do not get what we want and our joys are absent or at best short-lived. Yet, for the Christian, there is that wonderful and certain hope that however deep and hard the darkness is in our lives, it will ultimately be lifted and replaced by an indestructible joy. For those who love Christ, life’s long Lent will end, one day, in an eternal Easter in which death and sin are destroyed for ever.

Whether or not you keep Lent, starting on Wednesday 5 March this year – and in what way you keep it – is your choice. But to keep Lent, thoughtfully and prayerfully, is to come into a rich and lasting inheritance.
Be blessed this Lent and bless others!

J.John

Check out website here.

Monroe's Motivated Sequence

The following is an excerpt from the website "Mindtools" (click here) and introduces a method of motivational speaking called Monroe's Motivated Sequence. It poses the question whether some people are born speakers and motivators or can they be taught certain techniques to help them.

"While there are certainly those who seem to inspire and deliver memorable speeches effortlessly, the rest of us can learn how to give effective presentations too. Key factors include putting together a strong message and delivering it in the right sequence.

Monroe's Motivated Sequence: The Five Steps

Alan H. Monroe, a Purdue University professor, used the psychology of persuasion to develop an outline for making speeches that will deliver results. It's now known as Monroe's Motivated Sequence.

This is a well-used and time-proven method to organize presentations for maximum impact. You can use it for a variety of situations to create and arrange the components of any message. The steps are explained below.

Step One: Get Attention
Get the attention of your audience. Use storytelling  , humor, a shocking statistic, or a rhetorical question – anything that will get the audience to sit up and take notice.

Note:
This step doesn't replace your introduction – it's part of your introduction. In your opening, you should also establish your credibility, state your purpose, and let the audience know what to expect. Delivering Great Presentations provides a strong foundation for building the steps in Monroe's Motivated Sequence.

Step Two: Establish the Need
Convince your audience there's a problem. This set of statements must help the audience realize that what's happening right now isn't good enough – and it needs to change.

Use statistics to back up your statements.
Talk about the consequences of maintaining the status quo and not making changes.
Show your audience how the problem directly affects them.
Remember, you're not at the "I have a solution" stage. Here, you want to make the audience uncomfortable and restless, and ready to do the "something" that you recommend.

Step Three: Satisfy the Need
Introduce your solution. How will you solve the problem that your audience is ready to address? This is the main part of your presentation. It will vary significantly, depending on your purpose.

Discuss the facts.
Elaborate and give details to make sure the audience understands your position and solution.
Clearly state what you want the audience to do or believe.
Summarize your information from time to time as you speak.
Use examples, testimonials, and statistics to prove the effectiveness of your solution.
Prepare counterarguments to anticipated objections.

Step Four: Visualize the Future
Describe what the situation will look like if the audience does nothing. The more realistic and detailed the vision, the better it will create the desire to do what you recommend. Your goal is to motivate the audience to agree with you and adopt similar behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. Help them see what the results could be if they act the way you want them to. Make sure your vision is believable and realistic.

You can use three methods to help the audience share your vision:

Positive method – Describe what the situation will look like if your ideas are adopted. Emphasize the positive aspects.
Negative method – Describe what the situation will look like if your ideas are rejected. Focus on the dangers and difficulties caused by not acting.
Contrast method – Develop the negative picture first, and then reveal what could happen if your ideas are accepted.

Step Five: Action/Actualization
Your final job is to leave your audience with specific things they can do to solve the problem. You want them to take action now. Don't overwhelm them with too much information or too many expectations, and be sure to give them options to increase their sense of ownership of the solution. This can be as simple as inviting them to have some refreshments as you walk around and answer questions. For very complex problems, the action step might be getting together again to review plans.

For some of us, persuasive arguments and motivational speaking come naturally. The rest of us may try to avoid speeches and presentations, fearing that our message won't be well received. Using Monroe's Motivated Sequence, you can improve your persuasive skills and your confidence.

Get the attention of your audience, create a convincing need, define your solution, describe a detailed picture of success (or failure), and ask the audience to do something right away: It's a straightforward formula for success that's been used time and again. Try it for your next presentation, and you'll no doubt be impressed with the results!

Check out the following websites which have lots more information and helps:
http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/MonroeMotivatedSequence.htm
http://www.sanjuan.edu/webpages/mikeberry/speech.cfm?subpage=66682