More Information = Less Clarity

When it comes to teaching, is it not true that we bombard our people with lots of information? The research we have done may well be from the Bible and trusted theological commentators, but so often we present way too many truth units! We often lose sight of the main thing we want our people to “take away” from the lesson.

The Big Idea: Focus on the Message-Multiply the Impact… 1

BUSINESSES: The result is a church with more information and less clarity than perhaps ever before, but the church is not alone in its predicament. Businesses also get distracted with lots of little ideas and forget the Big Idea. Many marketplace leaders are relearning the importance of the Big Idea in regard to advertising. It was a multimillion-dollar sock-puppet ad during Super Bowl XXXIV that epitomized the absurdity of the advertising during the dot-com bubble. This same era brought us commercials with cowboys herding cats, singing chimps, and a talking duck — all great entertainment, but they didn’t convey a thing about the brands they represented. Brand consultants Bill Schley and Carl Nichols Jr., in their book, Why Johnny Can’t Brand: Rediscovering the Lost Art of the Big Idea, tell us this type of advertising is not effective branding. Schley and Nichols teach companies to redefine their products in terms of a single, mesmerizing “Dominant Selling Idea.” They go on to explain that somewhere along the way, “Johnny” forgot the basics of revealing the Big Idea in an easy, everyday way that cements a brand as top dog in the hearts and minds of consumers without resorting to puffery and shallow glitz. What are businesses learning? That “more” results in less clarity. (And less money!)

THE CHURCH: We have bombarded our people with too many competing little ideas, and the result is a church with more information and less clarity than perhaps ever before.
Don’t misunderstand — this is not a rant against entertainment or churches that are entertaining. I actually think churches should be more entertaining. But that’s a rant for another book. This is a rant against churches that don’t discipline themselves to create experiences that convey and challenge people with one Big Idea at a time. Why? Because the lack of clarity that we give our people impedes the church’s ability to accomplish the mission of Jesus. “More” results in less clarity.

THE POINT: Let’s see about refining our message so that people can grasp it. If one can’t explain it to someone else, they really have not “gotten it.” Let’s not circle the room looking for a place to land, but enter the classroom with the Big Idea we want our students to hold on to. Everything we do should support the main idea for the day.

1 Ferguson, D., Ferguson, J., & Bramlett, E. (2009). The big idea: focus the message—multiply the impact. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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