I was interviewed today by Craig Brian Larson of Preaching Today. Also being interviewed was Colin Smith, the Senior Pastor at Arlington Heights Evangelical Free Church. Colin seemed like a great guy (with a cool English accent) and it sounded like the church he is pastoring is doing terrific – they are running five services, including a video venue over 2000 in attendance. And he gave me a copy of his book Ten Keys For Unlocking The Bible, so he must be a good guy!
The topic for the interview was “How to Redeem How-To Preaching”. I have to be honest, when Larson e-mailed me and asked if I would do the interview I wasn’t even sure of a definition for “how-to” preaching. After swapping a few e-mails he said that the narrower definition is a style of preaching that always gives step by step formulas for how-to fix anything. That is not us. Just two weeks ago we did a whole BIG IDEA on “What To Do When The Mountain Doesn’t Move” where we talked about the mystery of unanswered prayer. We certainly didn’t have a how-to that would solve that mystery. But as we talked about a broader definition that meant the message would always be relevant to life…that was definitely us!
I think the part of the intent was to have Colin take up the cause of expository preaching and that I would take up the cause of how-to. I think instead it turned out both of us saying that no matter if you start with the text or start with a topic that it has to have application or be “earthed” as Colin put it.
As I was thinking about the interview, here is something I offered up. They come to you courtesy of myself and Tim Sutherland, the leader of our teaching team at CCC and the NewThing Network. These are four questions that we almost always ask regarding any talk we craft as a team:
Question #1: “What?” – This is simply asking what is it that you are talking about. This is an important question because it is very easy to talk about more than one thing. We have followed Haddon Robinsons teaching of always sticking to one BIG IDEA. The BIG IDEA is how we answer the what question.
Question #2: ” So what?” – The second question is asking so what makes this topic such a big deal that people ought to pay attention to you. What are you going to say in the next thirty minutes that warrants the attention of hundreds of thousands of listeners.
Question #3: “Now what?” – This question is the application question. This question will generally be answered with something you want people to do, think or feel differently after hearing this talk.
Question #4: “Where is Jesus in it?” – We want our teaching to always be Christo-centric and by asking where is Jesus in this talk we never leave out the obvious.