The Second Most Important Part of Message Prep

When you are in ‘crazy busy  ministry mode’ and you have to put a good message together, what are the elements you spend most time on? That’s the question we’re looking at today…

Last weekend I preached in ‘big church’ on Philippians 2. It’s always a great privilege to preach in church and It’s always a great opportunity for me to advocate for our student ministry. It’s comforting for parents of teenagers to know that their kids are in safe hands… Well, that’s the plan at least!

As I prepared the message last week, I did not feel I had as much time to run through my presentation and transitions. I felt like I had good time to dig into and unpack the passage, (that’s the most important part of message prep), but by the end of the week I had many commitments to take care of and ‘presentation practice’ as I call it, did not get as much attention as I would liked. You see, every message that I give, I try to practice and make sure that I fully ‘own it’ by the time I present it. As Andy Stanley says something like, “if you don’t own your message, why should you expect the people to own it when they leave?”

So what do you do when you are short for time and have not been able run through your whole message sufficiently? My advice: Practice the ‘take off’ and the ‘landing.’

1) The Take Off – This is the introduction where you gain attention, present a problem and give your audience a compelling reason to hang with you throughout the message. Just like an actual take off in a plane, people want to be able get up safely above the clouds and see where they are going without being stuck in the ‘clouds of confusion’ for too long. In other words, it’s imperative that we present the issue and clearly help our audience see where we are going for the next 20 minutes or so. Having a clear ‘take off’ off is essential and will set up the rest of message well. 

Even if our transitions and content is less clear later on, people will make the effort to follow if the ‘take off’ has been clear and compelling. 

2) The Landing – Just as a good ‘take off’ is imperative, it’s essential that we give our audience a vision for a better future and practical next steps that they can attain in the coming weeks. The last thing they need is to ‘circle’ in a ‘holding pattern’ as they try to figure it what to do with what they are hearing. Therefore, its most important that we paint a picture of what their lives could look like if they were to live out the biblical principles we have just been referring to. In addition, its imperative that we provide practical and attainable steps that our audience can take in the coming weeks. In other words, they need something concrete they can ‘land’ on that is attainable and worth looking forward to.

As someone who is passionate about communicating God’s truth to students and ‘big church,’ I would always encourage you to ensure that you completely own the message you are about to give by practicing it and working out the transitions. However, there are times when you don’t have time to work out all the details. It’s at times like this when it’s imperative to focus on your take off and landing.

What tips would you add to this?

Phil <><

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