Sticky Witness

Larry Osborne
Larry Osborne

Larry Osborne wrote a post about Sticky Preaching that, as a preacher, caught my attention and made me think a bit.  While thinking about it I began to wonder if the 5 Keys to Sticky Preaching he lined out could be expanded to apply to the day to day witness of everyday “lay” people — disciples making disciples.   Let’s take a look:

1) Set Aside the Commentaries

He is not advocating a lack of study, but rather allowing the message that God gives YOU from the passage come through.  Sometimes when preachers have a text that is assigned, or is the “next one” in the preaching plan they go to the commentaries or internet to find out what others have said in order to get the message.  This isn’t at all bad. But the preacher really needs to dig in and ask for a message that is God speaking through him — no him repeating a message God gave someone else.

As a witness this also true.   Do you have a story?  Have you taken time to think through and think about what God has to say to the world through your life?  For myself when I think through the events of my life and how God has worked the message is — never give up — God can use us regardless of where He has placed us.  Bloom where planted.  Rather than memorizing a canned witness speech — develop your story.  Tell what God has done, and is still doing, in your life.

2) Think Buffet, Not Banquet.

Here Osborne notes that a Banquet is one dish that is presented to perfection.  The Buffet is good food, prepared well, but offered so you can pick and choose.  He says:

As a pastor with a diverse flock to feed each week, I try to prepare a buffet of wisdom and insight from God’s word, knowing that not everyone will eat or need the same thing. I intentionally ask myself, What’s in here for the long-time Christians who have heard it all? What’s in here for the window-shopper who doesn’t know Job from job?

So for the disciple who is bearing witness — don’t strive to make you presentation perfectly polished so it can be presented in a few moments with every word carefully crafted.  Be aware of your surroundings.  What do these people need to hear?   Are they ready for the full gospel message?  Maybe they need to just hear a few words about how God is working the world.  Notice Paul in Athens.  He starts where they are. Using their own prophets and surroundings he tells them about a God at work in their world.

Good sound bites are principle-driven. As such, they are much more likely to transcend age, spiritual background and educational differences than simple prose or even a narrative.

3) Never Underestimate the Power of the Sound Bite.

As a preacher it is easy to fall into the trap of stating life principles in convoluted theologically correct statements.  Sometimes we need to give people a simple memorable phrase that will “stick”.  As Osborne notes:

Here are some examples:

—Instead of simply saying, “During times of discouragement, don’t assume you are outside of God’s will,” the sound bite might be: A valley doesn’t mean a wrong turn.

—When stressing the need to flee sexual temptation rather than trying to stand up to it, I might sum up the principle this way: We can’t resist what we’re supposed to flee.

When you hear these type of statements and they speak to you — remember them and offer them strategically in your context.   Be careful not to contrive ways to “look smart”, but rather when someone is seeking help — offer the sound bite as a piece of advice to think about.

4) Like Your Congregations

Osborne notes that:

I’ve found that it’s critical for me to cultivate a genuine appreciation of the various mindsets and subcultures in our church. That’s not always easy to do. It’s one thing to preach about the body of Christ; it’s another to genuinely embrace the differences and idiosyncrasies of the real people who populate all the tribes within our church.

Same is true for the disciple as he goes through life.  Sometimes those most diverse from our own preferences are those we have the best opportunity to explore differences with.  I have contact with a 20 something Goth girl who is quite different than my almost 60 middle class conservative self — but we have some great conversations exploring why we think differently.

5) Create a Common Anchor.

Here Osborne talks about items within their organization that provide common threads.  In your witness life that may not be as easy.  But we should know that we live to always point people in one direction — toward the Rabbi we serve.  Jesus the Christ.

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