WOMEN PREACHERS & A description of Susanna Wesley’s innovations

A crowd gathered outside the kitchen window. They had come to hear the pastor’s wife explain Scripture. Tradition forbade women from preaching as a pastor might, but the crowd knew Susanna Wesley as the theological and homiletical equal to her husband, their pastor. On occasions when Samuel traveled to London on religious business, attendance at the Epworth church dropped. But because Susanna believed so strongly people needed a regular feeding of God’s Word, she threw open her kitchen window as an invitation for others to hear the Word. The pretext was that she was teaching her children, gathered around the kitchen table. But the open window allowed her message to touch the hungry hearts of the townspeople. Never before had such delicious provision come out of this kitchen.

Excerpted from Enthusiast! Finding a Faith that Fills (Bob Whitesel, The Wesleyan Publishing House, 2017), p. 135.

PREACHING & Great Presenters Do One Thing That Most of You Don’t, Science Says

by James Sudakow, Inc. Magazine, 1/18/16.

…What if I told you that the thing you spend the most time on when preparing for your big presentation might actually be the thing that influences your audience the least? That’s exactly what a landmark study by Albert Mehrabian, UCLA Professor Emeritus of Psychology, found.

Mehrabian found that there are three elements of communication that influence an audience:

Visual

This is not how cool your power point slides are (although that matters, too). What Mehrabian was referring to here were key things like eye contact, body movement, and gestures. In other words, these are the things that the audience sees you do with your eyes, your hands, your arms, and your entire body…

Vocal

This is all about your voice. The three key areas that are most important are your rate, volume, and inflection. A rate that is too fast makes you seem “junior”, lack of inflection makes you look dispassionate, and lack of volume leaves you sounding less confident.

Verbal

This is simply about content. In this study, Verbal refers to the actual words you are saying. In preparing a presentation, most of us spend a significant amount of time, if not the majority, on Verbal. It makes sense, right? You can’t make a good presentation without good content.

Here is where the research gets really interesting in a way that just might change your approach:

From the study, Verbal accounted for only 7% of what influenced the audience. That left a whopping 93% of audience influence based on Visual and Vocal. Specifically, the study showed that 55% of audience influence was based on Visual and 38% was based on Vocal…

Read more at … http://www.inc.com/james-sudakow/great-presenters-do-one-thing-that-most-of-you-dont-science-says.html

PREACHING & Relevant Topics in an Irreverent World

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, California continually has some of the most relevant sermons I’ve come across. Here is a link to their latest. If you want to preach in a way that answers people’s questions, you should subscribed to their newsletter (below).

Who is going to win? Who is the greatest? Which one is the best? We are surrounded by people, organizations and cultures who desire influence & power, and it’s easy to get completely swept up in all of that. But what if we have been striving for the wrong thing this whole time?

Join us this Sunday 11/20 to explore what it looks like when we give up power instead of demanding allegiance, when we care for others instead of oppressing them, when we live into the way of Jesus’ upside down kingdom.

**We are excited to be back in our “Gospel According to Luke” series and invite everyone to join us as we continue reading through Luke on a weekly basis.

 

WOMEN LEADERS & When She Preaches #MissioAlliance #TaraBethLeach

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Tara Beth Leach’s article ( below) is important. Having consulted for many churches with female pastors over the years, I have found one of the strongest bastions of male dominance is often the pulpit.  Once that ceiling is broken with her anointing, other walls may fall.  This is what Susanna counseled John Wesley (1791), and it seemed to work. John had originally asked a female preacher in the Wesleyan Connexion to refrain from calling her sermonizing: preaching.  Instead, he suggested, it could be called a “testimony.”  Susanna, John’s mother and by all accounts a better preacher than John’s father Samuel, told John to go, hear her and see for himself if the anointing rested on her.  Soon thereafter, John agreed that women could preach within the Methodist movement.

When She Preaches

Growing up, I sat at the feet of countless remarkable male preachers. Besides Beth Moore, I don’t recall ever hearing a woman preach until my sophomore or junior year of college. I witnessed countless men stand behind pulpits, open their Bibles, and preach the Word of God in awe-inspiring ways. I am thankful for these men, because at the feet of them, my faith was formed and challenged. But I often wonder what it would have been like for me to listen to a woman preacher before I myself preached for the first time. I imagine I would have been deeply encouraged and wildly inspired.

When women don’t preach, the church suffers. It is as Carolyn Custis James says in her book, Half the Church,

When half the church holds back – whether by choice or because we have no choice – everybody loses and our mission suffers setbacks. Tragically, we are squandering the opportunity to display to an embattled world a gospel that causes both men and women to flourish and unites us in a Blessed Alliance that only the presence of Jesus can explain.[1]

Because, when a woman preaches, something profound begins to happen in the pews, the ground begins to shift, barriers are torn down, and the once silenced mouths are opened.[2]

When She Preaches, Women in the Congregation Begin to Imagine Gifts Outside of the Traditional/Patriarchal Roles

When she preaches, the women in the pews can begin to undo the narrative that tells them they are inferior to men. Many women sitting in the pews on Sunday morning aren’t sure what to do with scriptures that tell them to “keep quiet in the church” and are even told that scriptures like this should be applied to all women in every context. However, when she preaches, other women in the pews are pushed to think critically about those tough passages; they are pushed to consider their own gifts; they are forced to ponder a false narrative that they have embraced for far too long – that they are somehow less capable or less gifted in the Kingdom of God. When she preaches, women see a super-natural talent embodied in another woman, empowered by the Spirit, and propelled to edify all of the people of God. And it is then that women in the congregation begin to ask: can I preach, too? Maybe they will unearth the talents that have been buried for far too long; maybe they will spread their wings and fly; maybe they, too, will use their gifts in new and inspiring ways.

[1] Carolyn Custis James, Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 19.

[2] See a powerful post on Sarah Bessey’s blog, Why Not Have a Woman Preach” right here.

Read more here … http://www.missioalliance.org/when-she-preaches/

PREACHING & A Pastor Talks about the Pressures to Plagiarize

by John Frye, Pathos, 9/23/16.

Recently Scot McKnight had an excellent post about pastors plagiarizing. I read the post and followed the comment thread. Many good (and bad) things were pointed out about pastors preaching sermons of other pastors. Almost all thought it was deceptive to preach another pastor’s anecdote or experience or sermon as if it were their own. That is outright lying.

What in the US American evangelical culture would tempt pastors to plagiarize?

The unwise set-up of many pastors’ conferences. I have been a pastor for 40 years now. I’ve attended countless pastors conferences. When well-known, celebrity-status pastors are trotted out to be the main speakers, the message to the home-town pastor in middle Iowa gets the message: I am nothing compared to this guy (or lady)…

The book market for super pastors. Many Christian books by well-known pastors are marketed with built-in sermons that the pastor can preach to get his/her congregation interested in the book. Small group discussions can be spawned around the topics of the books. Yes, this is a way to market books through the local church…

The ubiquitous presence of Christian radio (and TV and podcasts). So many church attenders are able to hear very capable and charismatic preachers on their favorite Christian radio stations. By contrast, their pastor seems so bland compared to the dynamic, nationally known preachers. Yet, who buried Grandma Smith? Who prayed over the cancer survivor? Who was there at the birth of little Susie? Who did the wedding of Bill and Marta?..

Isolating the sermon as a thing unto itself. This really bugs me. I do not call communicators of the Bible in megachurches “pastors.” They are not. “My sheep hear my voice. I call them by name. They follow Me.” The sermon in US American mega-churchism has been horribly divorced from relationships. This is not a good thing. Some mega-church pastors are even protected from the riff-raff of the church. They let the lower rungs of church staff deal with the real pastoral issues. There is a spiritual elitism at work here. Sad. Sermons are made not just from Bible texts but from lived and known local stories. We have dis-incarnated the sermon.

Plagiarism is a collapse of faith. This collapse of faith knocks down three dominoes. First, a belief in the Creator God’s ability to grant creative, original thought to the local church pastor (stuck in the cornfields of Iowa)… The sin of comparison has sent too many pastors into depression. It has to stop. Stop now. Let the small town pastor meditate through the Book of Ruth. No kings. No priests. No mighty warriors. No prophets. What? An alien, a bitter widow, and a farmer. Second, a collapse in the dignity of the local, local, local church! A collapse in the dignity of the very local church is a collapse of a biblically-informed vision of the church… Third, a collapse of wisdom and discernment. Media-driven comparisons, ability to be known through marketed books or TV exposure, ability to coin a catchy phrase or two are drivel in comparison to that one old widow pouring her life into young mothers in the “hollers” of West Virginia…

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2016/09/23/a-pastor-talks-about-the-pressures-to-plagiarize/

 

PREACHING & 11 Tips From the Best TED Talks Speakers

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In the communication portions of my courses (as a missiologist, they all have a communication segment) I often play TED Talks that serve as examples of reliable/valid communication theory practiced well. Here is an Inc. Magazine article that similarly highlights communication tips from some of the most popular TED talks.

11 Public Speaking Tips From the Best TED Talks Speakers

by Jeffrey James, Inc. Magazine, 7/26/16.

There’s no question about it: TED Talks have raised the bar sky-high for what’s considered a memorable and compelling business presentation.

That being said, there are a handful of TED Talks speakers so talented that they almost make the rest seem dull and uninspired.

What makes them so special and popular? It’s not just their subject matter, although that obviously plays a role.

Here’s the secret: what the truly great TED speakers do differently from the rest can be found in the first few minutes of their presentation.

And that makes sense if you think about it. It’s during the opening remarks that the audience sits up and pays attention… or reaches for their iPhones.

With that in mind, here are five of the most popular TED Talks speakers (as measured by page views), with the techniques they use to enthrall their audiences.

To see the techniques in action you need only watch the first two minutes of the TED Talks embedded below. (Although they’re definitely worth watching in their entirety!)

1. Sir Ken Robinson

TIP No. 1. Use self-deprecating humor to lower barriers.

Unlike many other TED Talks speakers, Robinson doesn’t have a dynamic physical presence. Furthermore, because he’s an academic, he must overcome the perception that he’s likely to deliver a boring lecture.

He therefore opens by poking a little fun at himself and at educators in general. By puncturing his own balloon, he makes everyone feel more comfortable and more likely to listen to what he has to say.

TIP No. 2. Tie your experience to the shared experience.

In the midst of his humor, Robinson relates his personal experience at the conference to that of the attendees. This further humanizes him and brings him into the community of the audience.

Robinson establishes such a strong rapport with the audience that he doesn’t need visuals or graphics to make his points. This is a testament to how well he manages to capture and then hold the audience’s attention.

2. Amy Cuddy

TIP No. 3. Get the audience to take an immediate action.

The point of all public speaking is to convince the audience to make a decision, which means convincing them to move (conceptually) from wherever they are now to wherever you’d like them to be.

Cuddy starts by getting the audience to move physically, thereby creating the momentum for the conceptual move she intends them to make. This is a more creative take on the “show of hands” opening that less-talented speakers use.

TIP No. 4. Create a sense of suspense.

In her first few sentences, Cuddy also promises the audience they’ll be learning something important later in the presentation. This causes the audience to pay attention lest they miss the promised nugget of wisdom.

Note how cleverly Cuddy intermingles Tips 4 and 5! The suspenseful promise lends additional meaning to the movement, while the movement helps “lock in” the importance of the promise…

5. Dan Gilbert

Tip No. 9: Start with a startling fact or statistic.

Gilbert introduces his TED Talk with an unexpected fact that’s immediately relevant to his overall message, and uses contrast (20 minutes versus two million years) to frame that fact, thereby making it seem more vital.

Startling facts grab the attention of both sides of the brain. The neurons in your left brain signal “Yay, here’s a fact to remember!” while the neurons in your right brain signal “wow, that’s really weird!”

TIP No. 10. Use visually arresting graphics.

Gilbert immediately reinforces the startling fact with a graphic of two skulls that reinforces and strengthens both the informational content (for the left brain) and the emotional content (for the right brain).

By simultaneously hitting both sides of the brain, Gilbert completely captures the imagination and interest of the audience, even though he’s only 30 seconds into the presentation.

TIP No. 11. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

This is true of all great TED Talks speakers but particularly true of Gilbert, who is a master at reducing complex ideas into easily understood chunks of content.

Indeed, if you watch any great TED Talk, you’ll notice at once that speakers neither “drill down” into details nor take the proverbial “50,000-foot view.” Instead, they simplify without ever becoming simplistic.

http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/11-public-speaking-tips-from-the-best-ted-talks-speakers.html

Read (and watch) more at … http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/11-public-speaking-tips-from-the-best-ted-talks-speakers.html

STORYTELLING & Inspirational Leaders Use Stories to Inspire According to Research

Charismatic People Do These 7 Things, According to Science

Recent scientific studies reveal the ‘secret sauce’ that helps great leaders influence and inspire us all.

by Jeffrey James, Inc. Magazine, 8/15/16.

1. (Inspirational leaders) tell stories rather than relate facts…

Humans use stories to put facts into context and give meaning to random events of the world. Stories create rapport between the storyteller and individuals in the audience and “move” them emotionally to take action. That’s why every great TED Talk contains a story or series of stories…

(Charisma is the ability to influence and inspire others merely by your presence. According to a recent article in The Atlantic,several new scientific studies reveal that charismatic people habitually use the following key behaviors)…

3. They avoid speaking to fatigued audiences.

Charismatic people instinctively sense when it’s the right time to inspire others. The study about sleep-deprived speakers also revealed that sleep-deprived audiences are less swayed by charisma than well-rested ones. That’s why charismatic speakers seldom schedule talks before breakfast or late at night.

4. They express deep moral conviction.

The great religious leaders of history were so charismatic that their followers believed they were touched by God. The same is true, in a more limited sense, of charismatic business people. They’re neither wishy-washy nor namby-pamby. They show by word and deed that they aspire to something greater than their own self-interest…

6. They have broad interests and are deeply curious.

Charismatic people connect more easily because they’ve acquired general knowledge on a broad range of subjects, thereby creating more opportunity to find points of common interest. A charismatic leader responds quickly when other people bring up subjects that interest them. By contrast, specialists are seldom charismatic.

7. They let people hug them.

While charismatic leaders never force themselves physically on other people (which would be creepy), they are open to being hugged and touched. Apparently, many people unconsciously believe that some of the person’s charisma will “rub off” onto them, much like touching a lucky charm.

Read more at … http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/charismatic-people-do-these-7-things-according-to-science.html