It’s imperative that we step aside and let leaders speak, but it’s imperative that we also give our leaders the tools to do so. I have found that coming up with a basic message writing format really helps me, as well as my leaders. Here’s a format that I have developed from guys like Andy Stanley and Doug Fields:
Giving a message is like taking a flight and going on a journey somewhere…
TAKE OFF: Intro/Grab Attention/Get students on board.
Just like a plane on take off, most of the thrust and power goes into the getting the plane off the ground. Without a good thrust, you will run out of runway. In the same way, no matter how great our message content is, if we are unable to grab attention and get kids ‘on board’ and ‘take off’ with an idea, we will run out of ‘runway’ quickly. What media, drama, or special element will help us take off?
TOPIC: What issue do students face? What problem are you presenting?
TRUST: How have you struggled in this area. How do you relate to this problem? (It’s important that students can sense that we are on the journey with them, and that you have or have had struggles in this area).
TRANSITION: One sentence that takes us ‘above the clouds’ of the problem and transitions us into clarity of God’s answer. Example: How can you and I deal with this issue in our lives? It’s a good job God didn’t leave us in the dark. Let’s take a look at God’s Word and figure this out…
WORD: This is where we draw out God’s truths for students. Usually I try to break down this part into the following: i. Context – What was happening at the time. ii. Characters – Who are the people being addressed or written about. iii. Our context – How does this apply to us today. iv. Why is this important for us to understand? Remember to ensure that we pick a passage that addresses the issue that was raised at the beginning. It’s easy to take students on unnecessary diversions by focusing on every detail of the passage. Try to stay with the big idea.
WHAT IF: As we begin to descend to ‘land the plane’ it’s important to ask the question, What if you and I were to live this truth out in our lives… what would our lives look like? What would our decisions be like? What would our relationships look like? … It’s important that we begin to give them a runway to land on with us. So that they can visualize the vision God has for them. Just like a pilot can see the certainty and safety of the landing lights of a runway, students need to see the certainty of how living out these truths will impact their lives… Without the “What if “questions, we are asking students to land in the fog…
WHAT NOW: What steps can students take to live out these truths?
As they ‘disembark’ do they know where they are going this week? Just like passengers need directions once they get to the airport terminal, so students need further steps they can can as they navigate through their week. What specific steps can we give them to take that will help them start living out the truth they have just heard?
This is the basic way I have shared with my leaders to help them take students on a journey. It helps to give them a natural and normal format to follow and gives them a starting point in their message journey and gives them an easy ‘landing’. Try and tweak it for yourself?