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March 17, 2009Interviews, Leadership

Andy Stanley on Communication (Part 5)

In the final part of our interview with Andy Stanley he gives some advice to young pastors related to the responsibility of preaching.

In case you missed them, here are parts one, two, three, and four.

I am glad to hear so many of you mention that you ordered Andy's book, Communicating for a Change. If you have not done so, I recommend you do so.

Here is a bit more from our interview and a some additional information from Preaching Magazine.

Question: If you had to give one word to young pastors about communication, what would you tell them?

Andy: Show up every Sunday morning with a burden that is so heavy that you feel like you will die if you don't deliver it. And pray for that. Because if you don't have that, then you just have information. The people will put up with all kinds of a lack of excellence if there is an intensity and a burden that has to be delivered. And many times I have looked at my notes and thought, "Yeah, this might be helpful, but God, what's the thing I can't wait until Sunday morning to deliver? And I honestly can't wait for Sunday morning.

The other thing I always tell pastors, "If you preach from your weaknesses, you will never run out of sermon material."

In an interview with Preaching Magazine, Andy was asked a similar question: "Are there some things you've learned about preaching that you wished you'd known years ago?"1 Two parts of his reply really struck a chord. The first part had to do with how he structured his messages; the second dealt with how he planned his message series. As for how Andy structures his messages, this is what he said:

In terms of how I structure messages and memorize them, what I finally figured out is that there's basically three or four, maybe five parts to every message. What it took me years to learn is this: if I'll just get those in my mind and understand my transitions, I can forget the details. And I am far more free to communicate rather than try to remember something... And so in terms of memorizing sermons, I figured out there are only three or four big chunks and when I can mentally go through the big pieces, then I am ready. It took me awhile to figure that out. This helped my memorization and my communication style tremendously. I became far more conversational. I also discovered it's about a journey and it's about one thing, not four things.2

As for how he plans his messages, Andy described it this way:

All of our series planning begins with a team of people and me just throwing things up on the board and at every level of preparation bringing people into the process and saying, "What do you think about this? Does this make sense?" The average person gives me all the credit for that wonderfully delivered message, but it had a lot of hands in it...I think the whole team approach to series planning is helpful. My best visual aids weren't my ideas but when you get a group of people thinking, they all have a gift. So I wish I'd done that earlier. It takes the creative pressure off sometimes. I'll have other people out there thinking about it while I'm in here working on the details.3


1 "Preaching Without Fear," Preaching 20 (July-August 2004): 32.

2 Ibid, 32-33.

3 Ibid, 33.

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Andy Stanley on Communication (Part 5)