Why Christian Apologists Should Study Preaching (Part 2)
by Matt Rawlings
I once sat in on a presentation by a noted Christian apologist who blazed through several points in less than an hour. When I asked people what they remembered from the talk, most mumbled something a kin to, “God and stuff.”
What good does it do for we apologists to finally gain a hearing for the Biblical command to defend the faith (1 Peter 3:15) and then overload our audience with so much information that they don’t remember anything about it? Too many apologists open up the fire hose instead of graciously offering Dixie Cups of life-giving water.
Preachers who have truly studied their craft have known this for a long time. Andy Stanley and Lane Jones argue in Communicating for a Change that preachers should pick A point to speak on and no more.
In the first half of the book, Stanley and Jones’ utilize dialogue between a minister who feels he might as well be preaching to a cemetery and a gifted speaker (who happens to be a truck stop pastor) that is trying to help him. The trucker tells the preacher to just focus on one point, which confuses the minister. So, the trucker states:
“Let’s try something. Ready? Forty-two, seventeen, eleven, thirty-nine, seventy-six, twenty-four, nine, twelve, eighty-four. Now, repeat those numbers back to me.”
“Well…I can’t do that. I can’t remember all that.”
“…[n]ow let’s try again. Forty-four, forty-four, forty-four, forty-four, FORTY FOUR. Now repeat back the number.”
See his point. If our audience is going to remember what we are presenting, we need to keep it as simple as possible and one point will do just fine.
But you would ask, “how do you determine the one point?” Glad you asked.
Stanley and Jones assert every speaker should do the following:
1) Dig until you find it. In their case, they are talking about THE point of a passage of Scripture. For apologists, it should be a single phrase that best encapsulates the one argument we want our audience to remember. So, it would be necessary to prayerfully reflect upon the argument until we can boil it down to a sentence or so that anyone can remember…
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