Today's Word for Pastors...
Today's Preaching Insight...
Consider Shorter Attention Spans
In the May 2003 issue of Ministry magazine, executive speech coach Patricia Fripp observes, "Today's audiences have very short attention spans. The first and last thirty seconds have the most impact. Don't waste those precious seconds with trivialities. Come out punching. . . . You might start with a story, an interesting statistic, a startling statement - anything rather than something predictable. Being too predictable can be boring. With the advent of the TV remote control, no one watches anything that stands still long enough to bore. Today's audiences will forgive you for anything except being boring. . . .
"We must keep our audience's needs in mind. In the first sentence or so, you want people in your audience to elbow their neighbors and say, ‘This is going to be good. I'm glad we're here!' When a sermon is immediately compelling, it's as if you forget everything else. It's important to memorize the first three or four sentences of your introduction. This allows you to start fluently, connecting with your audience."
Rivers gain more attention than the little streams that create them. You can name the great rivers of the world, but you cannot name their tributaries. However, without the tributaries, there would be no river. And it must be remembered that the smaller streams, while less well-known, are purer and are found on a higher elevation. Some of our lives are tributary lives. It is our role to provide the pure water from the higher elevation that enables another to be a mighty river of power and influence.
J. Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati, OH.
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