128 – How to Prepare a Dynamic Men’s Bible Message
Part 2 of 2
In the last issue we explored the first two steps for preparing a strong Bible message — the starting point and preparation point of view. To review, since 1986 I have prepared a weekly message for our Man in the Mirror Men’s Bible Study here in Orlando. I’ve distilled lessons learned into a worksheet to help prepare and deliver a solid biblical message. If you teach the Bible to men, or want to, adopt or adapt this method, or use it to stimulate a method of your own. Here are the final three steps:
3. STUDY MY TEXT
First, why is this story (or text) in the Bible?
Rule #6: Why does this story move us? Probe until I find the passion in a verse. Penetrate to the point of passion. ____________________________________________
Key Words in text: ____________________________________________
What would we say is happening in today’s language (e.g., no straw but same quota = downsizing)? ____________________________________________
What is the purpose of the text? ____________________________________________
Rule #7: What is the PROBLEM this message solves? What is underlying belief PROBLEM (heart issue)? Distinguish between the presenting problem and root problem.
META-RULE: How does this text show men Christ? _____________________________________
Rule #8: The right question will produce the right message. What questions/problems does the text raise that I find puzzling or intriguing? Which of these would my listeners most want/need to have answered? Where is the tension that needs to be resolved? What is the question my men will never ask because they don’t want to sound like an idiot or heretic? What is the one question that can most focus this message? (focus = the art of exclusion).
What is the right question? ____________________________________________
Truth: What does this text Say? _______________ Mean? __________________
Proof: Is it true? Belief: Do you believe it?
Rule #9: Goal: to make true believers. Not enough that it’s true; nothing happens until he believes it’s true.
Implication : What difference does it make? What questions should we ask ourselves? Application: So what? How will you let it change your life?
(Subject, Complement, and Exegetical Idea from Biblical Preaching by Haddon Robinson) Subject: Exactly what is this biblical writer talking about?
What’s going on? ____________________________________________
Test it, go back through text, relate to details. Does subject fit the parts? Is it too broad? Too narrow? Does the subject exactly describe what the passage is talking about? Complement: What is the subject saying about what it is talking about? ______________________________________________________________________
Complete Idea : A complete statement of the main idea presented in the passage (Subj + Compl) ______________________________________________________________________
4. THINK ABOUT MY MEN
What is the PROBLEM this text solves for my men? What are the real PROBLEMS my men are struggling with that this passage addresses? ______________________________________________________________________
What is the PROBLEM I’m trying to solve? Are they the same? ______________________________________________________________________
Rule #10: Find the gravity. Where is the gravity? Why is this important? Tap into the dissonance on the topic. That is where the energy is. Show men why this matters. Why should they care? ______________________________________________________________________
Rule #11: Have something to say. What is it that God wants to say to my men from this text? (Don’t focus on what men need to do for God, but what God has done for them). ______________________________________________________________________
What does man need to know about God to better know himself? ______________________________________________________________________
5. PREPARE MY MESSAGE
Now, break the message into 3 parts and answer the following questions (actually, not “all” the questions every time, but those that make sense to answer given the text and topic).
Part 1 — Relevance: 5 to 10 minutes
Have a good answer to the questions…
- Who is this message for? Have a clear picture of the man you are speaking to. ________________________________________________________________
- Why give this message? _________________________________________
- What is the purpose of my message? ________________________________________________________________
- What is the compelling promise the text makes? Raise men’s expectations for what will happen here. _____________________________________________________________
- Rule #12: How will I arrest their attention? To arrest the attention of men whose minds are in 1,000 different places, you have to relate the message you are about to present to “their world.”
- How does this message relate to the real problems my men face? To be “heard” your message must address a problem, issue, or challenge your men face.
- Rule #13: Present men with a PROBLEM they want solved or a question they want answered.
- Where is the gravity? Help men feel the gravity of the problem. Take them to the brink. They have to literally feel the weight of a problem, or they won’t want to solve it. Toy with it. Where can I create a tension that needs to be resolved? Someone should be on the verge of shouting, “Okay, I get it! What should we do?” The message must crackle with emotional tension.
Part 2 — Teaching: 10 to 15 minutes
Now that you have their attention (the hard part), you can solve the problem you’ve made them “feel” from your text. Questions to answer once gravity established…
- What does the text say? _____________________________________________________________
- What does it mean? _____________________________________________________________
- Rule #14: What is the unique contribution of this passage to our understanding of God, ourselves, and his purposes? _____________________________________________________________
- Rule #15: What is the one question I can answer that can most focus this message? The right question will produce the right message. _____________________________________________________________
- Rule #16: The Big Idea: What is the single point I want to make? Put that into a sparkling, memorable sentence and repeat it several times during your message. Why? So on Tuesday someone can repeat that sentence, or the general idea of it, to a hurting co-worker or neighbor. It must have an aha factor, an insight my audience will not have seen on their own reading of the text. Give them an unusual look at the usual. _____________________________________________________________
- What do I need to “explain” or “prove” more clearly about the Big Idea, especially in light of the stated purpose?
- What is the message God wants to bring to my men? What have you
uniquely taught me, Lord, that can release the faith of these men, and bring revival, and changed life?
- Rule #17: What is the unique contribution I can make to the unique contribution/response that my men can make? This means I must be vulnerable
Rule #18: Find the resonance. Speak like Isocrates, not Demosthenes. Try to use one metaphor per message. Tap into the dissonance men feel about the topic — that’s where the energy is. Compare/contrast words/concepts for sharper relief. Speak with voices of reason & passion. Alternate between story and teaching in 5 minute increments. Where does emotive power come from? Tell real stories about a real God working in & on real people. Use silence. Use concrete language. Prepare this section of your message first, then flesh out Parts 1 and 3.
Part 3 — Application: 5 to 10 minutes, but thorough
META-PURPOSE: Bring my men to see the Greatness of Jesus, then ask them how Jesus would want them to respond in their walk with Christ, family, work, church, and community.
Questions to answer to bring your message home (in addition to this whole section, pepper you message with applications too)…
- Rule #19: What is the message for my listeners — the take away? ___________________________________________________________
- Rule #20: So what? How does it apply to my men at 9:00 am? What do I want my men to think, feel or do differently as a result of this message? (That’s another way of asking, What is the purpose of my message?) What changes do I want them to make? What do I want to happen as a result of my men hearing this message? It can be: knowledge, insight, attitude, or skill. As a result of this message I want my men to _____________. Help men break the cycle. Give a nod to those attempting to do it right.
- Have I encouraged the heart, given enough vulnerability & insight (not info.) to change the mind and will, and walk out changed? It is not the amount of information, but the impact of the information. Otherwise I’m just reporting.
Establish Relevance, deliver the Teaching, and connect the dots to their real world with grace-based Application. That’s how it’s done. Oh, and smother your message in the gospel and in grace. Help men change the core affections of their hearts. How? Bring them into the real presence of Christ. No man should leave your meeting feeling like he’s just been beat up. No man should leave feeling like he has to “do” something to make God happy, or to improve his record to be good enough.