Communication and Connection

John Maxwell has written something that makes total sense. Often we assume that we are communicating information, but the reality is that we will not communicate until we connect with people on some level.

Something I know but do not feel, my communication is dispassionate.
Something I know but do not do, my communication is theoretical.
Something I feel but do not know, my communication is unfounded.
Something I feel but do not do, my communication is hypocritical.
Something I do but do not know, my communication is presumptuous.
Something I do but do not feel, my communication is mechanical.

When components are missing, the result for me as a communicator is exhaustion. However, when I include all three components- thought, emotion, and action, my communication has conviction, passion, and credibility. The result is connection. I believe you can achieve the same result when you include all three.

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Connecting Always Requires Energy

Connecting with others always requires energy; just think of how many low-energy relationship you have. Even if they come off as low energy, they usually possess a reserve of energy that is not evident on the surface.

They Get Out of it What You Put into it: It is important to move toward people emotionally and relationally. The more you put into your lesson, the more they will get out of it. It is very important to not wait until Saturday to compose your lesson. Begin early in the week, reading the passage and contemplating the key points of the lesson. Pray about how the information you learn will translate into a life applicable lesson for your students. When you know your material, you will have greater confidence when you walk into the room, and you will have a good idea about the time it will take to share and discuss the lesson.

Remember Key Events in the Lives of your Students: It is good to have personal information about birthdays, anniversaries, family names, even school activities and schedules. Try to create new memories by spending time together and celebrating special events.

Work at Remembering Names: It seems so simple but it is imperative if your goal is knowing your students. It is also a great way to learn names, introducing them to other people. The more people they meet the more chances they have to connect with others.

You’ve Got to Bring it: John Maxwell writes about four unpardonable sins of a communicator, and it takes energy to do each of these.

  1. Being unprepared.
  2. Being uncommitted.
  3. Being uninteresting.
  4. Being uncomfortable.

Ten Tips to Becoming a Magnificent Mingler (communication coach Susan RoAne):

  1. Possess the ability to make others feel comfortable.
  2. Appear to be confident and at ease.
  3. Have the ability to laugh at themselves (not at others).
  4. Show interest in others; maintaining eye contact, self-disclose, ask questions and actively listen.
  5. Extend themselves to others; they lean into the greeting with a firm handshake and a smile.
  6. Convey a sense of energy and enthusiasm.
  7. Are well rounded, well informed and well mannered.
  8. Prepare stories of actual occurrences that are interesting, humorous and appropriate.
  9. Introduce people to each other with an infectious enthusiasm that motivates conversation between others.
  10. Convey respect and genuinely like people, which is the core of communicating.

Five Proactive Ways to Use Energy for Connecting: One does not need to be a high energy person or an extrovert to master this energy. I am officially an introvert, but I force myself to behave like an extrovert at times. The issue is how one recharges. Introverts recharge in solitude and peacefulness while extroverts draw energy from being around people.

1. Connecting Requires Initiative: It is important to go first. Wal-mart has a wonderful strategy when it comes to connecting – “Every time a person comes within ten feet of me, I will smile, look at him in the eye and greet him.” Initiative is to any relationship what a lighted match is to a candle. Those that do not connect in our classes are likely not taking a first step toward others, so it is our responsibility to go first. Maxwell says that if you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up not doing anything for anybody. Try to find ways to help others. Grateful people are generally much easier to connect with. Initiating a conversation with someone often feels awkward. Offering to help someone risks rejection. Giving to someone can lead to misunderstanding. Those who connect go ahead and do what the rest of us never quite get around to.

2. Connecting Requires Clarity: It is imperative that we prepare.

We prepare personally by knowing ourselves. We all have weaknesses and shortcomings, but we cannot give what we do not have, we cannot teach what we do not know, we cannot share what we do not feel. If someone is prepared for the little challenges of life, we should be ready for the bigger challenges.

We prepare for our people by knowing our class. Connecting begins with people. The more you know about your people the better you will be at connecting with them.

  1. Who are they?
  2. What do they care about?
  3. Where do they come from?
  4. Why did they decide to attend the class?
  5. Why are they in the room today?
  6. What do I have that I can offer them?
  7. How do they want to feel when the class is finished?

We prepare professionally by knowing our stuff. Situations where we teach, speak or lead, we must be prepared professionally. We must know what we are talking about. As teachers, we must prepare days in advance for the lesson to come across with power.

3. Connecting Requires Patience: It is important to slow down. We live in an impatient culture and moving at the pace of others can be very exhausting. When we slow down we can move at someone else’s pace. Good connectors don’t always run the fastest, but they are able to take others with them. They are able to set aside their own agenda to include others.

4. Connecting Requires Selflessness: In life there are people who take and those who give. One’s spirit is renewed by a teacher with a giving spirit. Even if you have said something before, people receive it well when you are a giver, but they will tire quickly if you are a taker. The giver is the person who teaches out of love, grace, gratitude, compassion, and passion.

5. Connecting Requires Stamina: It is essential to recharge. Teaching can be taxing physically, mentally and emotionally. It is important to recognize and avoid the leaks that drain us. We also must be intentional about our personal renewal.

Connecting Principle: Connecting always requires energy.
Key Concept: The larger the larger the group, the more energy it takes to connect.

Practical Steps:

  1. Before class, go to each person and introduce yourself or greet the members.
  2. Ask questions and find out information about your class members.
  3. If people are not opening up in the discussion, you might talk about their uniqueness and how it relates to the topic.
  4. Remember that preparation brings energy, and passion, which comes from conviction, brings energy.

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Passion-Driven Sermon, Part 5

The Passion-Driven Sermon: The Passion-Driven Sermon: Practical Theology for Pastoral Preaching (Jim Shaddix).

  1. Preaching from a Biblical Perspective
  2. The Message of Preaching
  3. The Shepherd’s Stewardship in Preaching
  4. The Shepherd’s Power in Preaching
  5. The Shepherd’s Relevance in Preaching

The Shepherd’s Relevance: Application of Incarnation?

Haddon Robinson is quoted as saying, “More heresy is preached in application than in Bible exegesis.”

1. Reforming Application from the Outside In: we must look at the basic nature of God and the passage before we jump in to personal application.

Reclaiming the Relevance: application is not primarily about addressing perceived needs with practical advice but addressing real needs and restoring right relationships.

Redefining the Meaning: as we visit a doctor, we are prescribed medication, which we must apply in order to get better.

  1. Specific Application – involves linking truth with a current situation in the listener’s life.
  2. Stored Application – involves truth that is being deposited and kept for life situations that the listener has not yet fathomed.
  3. Subliminal Application – involves application made below the conscious level. Much of the Spirit is not understood but is truth that is stored below our consciousness.

Redeeming the Focus: what approach to application provides the preacher with the best chance of connecting eternal truth with the most number of listeners? The funnel of relevance narrows at each point.

  1. Theological Application is first – what does the text teach us about God and His relationship with people?
  2. Universal Application – timeless truth in any given passage that is applicable to all people of all time.
  3. Generational Application – which is for all people living on the planet at the time the message is preached.
  4. Cultural Application – which is germane to all people within a particular culture.
  5. Communal Application – involves the connection of truth with those persons whose lives are bound by some type of relationship.
  6. Individual Application – when the preacher seeks to identify and address the needs of individual listeners or selected groups.

2. Transforming Lives from the Inside Out: Christ is to be formed in the believers (Philippians 3:10, 21; Colossians 1:27)

Preaching for Christ’s Character: the target of incarnational preaching is the character of Christ within the believers. The concentric circles are:

  1. Christ in You.
  2. Conscience (mind, will and emotions).
  3. Conduct.
  4. Community.

Preaching for Christ’s Conscience: you are what you eat. A man is what he thinks (Proverbs 23:7). Conscience is general and broad and may influence many different situations. It is more effective than to just change a person’s conduct. Let this mind be in you (Philippians 2:5).

Preaching for Christ’s Conduct: the purpose of preaching ought to see faith expressed in the conduct as a result of character formation and conscience alteration.

Preaching for Christ’s Community: loss of community is one of the most overlooked realities of contemporary church growth. Fundamental questions for the faith community has always been, “Who are we and what do we do?” Many churches are trying to convince a listening audience that we are all on the same page (same language, same problems, on the same journey). Some avoid the language of the church to use the language of the culture. The terms will lose their meanings; terms that help define the community of faith. People are growing in biblical illiteracy.

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Passion-Driven Sermon, Part 4

The Passion-Driven Sermon: The Passion-Driven Sermon: Practical Theology for Pastoral Preaching (Jim Shaddix).

  1. Preaching from a Biblical Perspective
  2. The Message of Preaching
  3. The Shepherd’s Stewardship in Preaching
  4. The Shepherd’s Power in Preaching
  5. The Shepherd’s Relevance in Preaching

The Shepherd’s Power: Subjective or Objective?

One ingredient separates the preacher from other passionate speakers, it is the anointing of God, whereby the preacher is binding himself to the Holy Spirit and His power.

The Work of the Shepherd: he is interdependent upon himself and the power of God.

  1. The Influence of Persuasion – Paul often used this method (1 Corinthians 2:4, Acts 13:43; 17:4-5; 18:4;19:26; 28:24; 2 Corinthians 5:11).
  2. The Interdependence of Preaching – Bible writers spoke with the authority of God (2 Peter 1:19-21). Secular speakers depend on their skills of argument and persuasion, but the preacher must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. The Christian preacher must also assume that God will speak to his listeners through his preaching.

The Work of the Scriptures: God-breathed Scriptures are the only source of faith and practice; that will bring lasting life change.

  1. Completing the Pastor: Preaching for life change comes out of the role of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:14-17). It is a work of inspiration of God, that is for all people. It also equips the shepherd in that it completes him; he has everything he needs to fulfill his calling.
    1. The Bible provides wisdom for all godliness (2 Timothy 2:17) – pointing to justification and sanctification; growing in Christ-likeness.
    2. The Bible provides instruction for knowing godliness (2 Timothy 3:16) – profitable for doctrine, a complete body of divine truth.
    3. The Bible provides rebuke for straying from godliness (2 Timothy 3:16) – reproof means to convict of error in behavior or belief.
    4. The Bible provides restoration to godliness (2 Timothy 3:16) – correction is found only here in the NT, referring to restoring something to its original and proper condition.
    5. The Bible provides training for pursuing godliness (2 Timothy 3:16) – instruction is better rendered training or discipline. The idea is to build up.
  2. Changing the People: Joshua was challenging the people to remain in God’s Word if they wanted to experience success or prosperity (Joshua 1:8). The idea is not foreign to the Bible (Psalm 19:7-13); Providing spiritual cleansing (Psalm 119:9-11); inspiring wonder (Psalm 119:18); navigating life’s journey (Psalm 119:105); spiritual nourishment (1 Peter 1:22-2:2).

The Work of the Spirit: transformation is the goal of Christianity.

  1. The Spirit and the Work of God – like the Incredible Hulk, we are transformed through the process of metamorphosis into the likeness of Christ (Romans 12:1; Matthew 17:2; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Philippians 2:5). We will be like Him spiritually, bodily (Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:49).
  2. The Spirit and the Word of God – Jesus’ prayer was that His followers be sanctified in the truth (John 17:17), and our ultimate transformation will be glorification. It is through the Word of God that we may be transformed (Romans 12:1-2).

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Passion-Driven Sermon, Part 3

The Passion-Driven Sermon: The Passion-Driven Sermon: Practical Theology for Pastoral Preaching (Jim Shaddix).

  1. Preaching from a Biblical Perspective
  2. The Message of Preaching
  3. The Shepherd’s Stewardship in Preaching
  4. The Shepherd’s Power in Preaching
  5. The Shepherd’s Relevance in Preaching

The Shepherd’s Stewardship: Good Stuff or God Stuff?

Many conservatives have championed biblical inerrancy, however they are often functional errantists (by the way they handle the Bible in their preaching, like it was entrusted to us for any and every use under the sun).

Exalting God, Not Resourcing Man: it is the testimony of God

  1. The Essence of the Bible – People are weary of sermons listing only historical facts and no connection to real life. The Bible has a most important quality, its divine feature, that it is God-centered and not man-centered. The shepherd is to speak God-stuff (thus says the Lord) and not just good stuff.
  2. The Agenda of the Bible – The beginning and the end of the Bible are similar, a creation with a garden and the Tree of Life. On the journey between the two we are called to conform to the image of His Son. The shepherd and sheep must align themselves with God’s agenda.

Explaining Revelation, Not Revealing Information: new vs. existing revelation; God told me…

  1. A Revelation About Revelation – The author received a comment about not getting his messages from God, since he preached through books of the Bible. He was preaching the next passage that followed rather than listening to God and preaching what God wanted. Preachers cannot say, “thus says the Lord” if they are getting information from non-biblical sources. Are they heralding heresy or transmitting truth? God has revealed through His Word, new revelation from God would mean that Joseph Smith or Charles Taze Russell might be right.
  2. An Explanation About Explanation – Preaching has evolved from being revelatory to being explanatory. Post-apostolic preachers began explaining that which God has already revealed and persuaded men to act upon it. The Bible is our only source of knowledge of God’s truth (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 Peter 2:2). Today, people are more interested in personal experience, emotional feeling and pragmatic application than explanation of the biblical text.
  3. An Understanding About Understanding – Explanation is not an end unto itself but a means to an end, which is understanding.

In Nehemiah 8, those who could understand gathered at the revival event. First, they read directly from the book (Nehemiah 8:8). Second, Nehemiah gave it sense, likely it was translated from Hebrew into Aramaic (Nehemiah 8:8). Translation is not as effective as interpretation.

The Emmaus Road experience we see something similar, they did not have proper understanding (Luke 24:25, 27, 32). Paul challenges us to renew our minds (Romans 12:2).

The preacher is not to give opinions, indirect implications or extra-biblical principles, but instead to reveal the Spirit’s intended meaning in Scripture; to help their lives to transform.

Edifying Churches, Not Reaching Seekers: Although we are to be all about evangelism, being seeker-sensitive is not the same.

  1. The Savior on Church Growth – Jesus mentioned building His church on the Rock (Matthew 16), and that all that the Father gives Him will come to Him (John 6:37). Human efforts produce human results. The early church had the Spirit growing the church (Acts 2:39, 2:47, 5:14, 11:24, 13:48). Church growth is His doing, not any strategy, method, principle or program.
  2. The Shepherd in Church Growth – We are to be equippers of the saint, for the work of service (Ephesians 4:11-16). The shepherd is to build up the body, teaching gifted men who can teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2).
  3. The Stewardship of Church Growth – Seeker-sensitive services boast about making it casual for lost people, but where is the highest percentage of lost people, inside or outside the church? Most lost people never darken our doors. So, it is better use of energy and resources to build up the body to impact their believers’ circles of influence. The Great Commission uses a term, “as you are going…” like along the way, make disciples.

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