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There are some messages in life you wish would never end; on the other hand, there are some messages you are convinced will never end. Calvin Coolidge said, "Don't speak unless you can improve on silence."

Good advice.

Unfortunately for most of us, there are a few sermons or Bible lessons that ended before they ever really got started! Anyone who communicates on a regular basis has delivered a few of those. You know, the plane just never left the runway.

The worst of those "flights of communication" is when you do in fact take off, but don't know where you are going and crash in unfriendly territory. Many speakers have mentally put on a parachute but had nowhere to jump.

The First Time
My first sermon in 1978 was one such as that. I spoke one Sunday morning at Lakeside Wesleyan Church, in Lakeside California, a suburb of San Diego. The only thing I can say in retrospect is, "I'm sorry."

Jenny Stellgis was Jesus with skin on for me that day. She was a sweet woman who glowed with the love of God. She had taught fourth grade girls forever and was the church treasurer for even longer. Jenny was my encourager and had only positive things to say to everyone. She was a heavenly grandma to all of us.

At the conclusion of my sermon, she hopped up from her spot in the front pew, grabbed my hands, and with the joy of Jesus in her eyes and tremendous enthusiasm, said, "Dan, your next sermon is sure to be better."

I never felt so good about feeling so bad in my life!

In contrast, there are those stirring, moving, edge-of-your-seat, life-changing speeches or sermons that you never forget. One of my favorites was delivered in 1963 by the beloved and influential Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King.

You know it well: "I have a dream." I never tire of the words, the passion, the voice, the moment in time, even though I wasn't there personally. It's so powerful, it's as if I was there.

There are many Pastors today I just don't get tired of hearing; I could literally listen to all day. These are just a few:
  • Jack Hayford (Consecration)
  • Orval Butcher (Compassion)
  • Billy Graham (Credibility)
  • Kevin Myers (Connection)
  • Andy Stanley (Creativity)
  • Bill Hybels (Clarity)
  • Chuck Swindoll (Cheerfulness)
  • Jack Wolfe (Conviction)
What Makes Them So Different?
Let's take a close look at communication to understand more fully what makes some so memorable—in fact, life-changing—and some a sure cure for insomnia.

These eight key components will help you communicate the Word of God with greater impact. Use them to evaluate your own communication effectiveness.

Eight Key Components To Effectively Communicate Your Message:
  1. Consecration
    When I listen to Jack Hayford speak, I just know Jack has been with God. I know he has spent time with God and has a fresh word. His great church in Van Nuys, California is blessed to have him. Do you know communicators like that too?

    When you hear from them, you feel like God himself is speaking. I know we all try to be a vessel for God's voice, but I have to admit, when I hear Jack there is something that is very special.

    This first key component can get a little mystical, but that's OK—there is mystery in the Gospel. There is a power that is bigger and farther beyond all of us who communicate God's Word. It is of course, the power of the Holy Spirit.

    * Bathe yourself and your message in prayer. I don't mean a token prayer, but long earnest petition before the Lord to seek His wisdom, power and favor. Without this, your message will ring hollow and upon seemingly deaf ears when it comes to transformation of people's lives that will last for all eternity.

    Pray hard and pray long. There simply are no shortcuts when it comes to prayer and time with God.

    * Commit yourself and your message to God's purpose and pleasure. This deals with your motives. Do you seek the approval of people or of God? Do you Do you speak the whole truth in love or do you avoid certain touchy areas that might offend people and rock the boat?

    Do you draw attention to yourself or to God? You must choose one because you cannot do both. While I was in seminary, I suffered a painful and embarrassing experience. I was a decent communicator: not the best and not the worst, but I was in the game.

    From early on, I have been blessed with a certain gift for humor in my communication style. I had just finished delivering my sermon to the preaching class and feeling pretty good about myself, sat down. Secretly, I was awaiting the praise of the professor.

    Instead, he said, "You're kinda funny aren't cha? But here's the problem: You can either draw attention to yourself or draw attention to Jesus, but not both. Which will it be?"

    That was it. I thought I would die. But today I am so grateful for that painful lesson. He wasn't saying not to use humor. Rather, he taught me about my motives and why I use humor. From then on, it was to enhance the message, not make myself look good.

    * Give the Holy Spirit room to guide you in the delivery. There are so many times I have listened to a communicator in the pulpit like Jack or John Maxwell when they obviously "left their notes" and pursued the new direction that God was giving in the moment.

    This doesn't mean they weren't prepared. On the contrary, they are very prepared, which is how they free themselves up mentally and emotionally to hear prompts from God to make changes during the message.
  2. Compassion
    Pastor Orval Butcher is retired now, but was the founding pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego. He was the pastor when I received Christ as my savior. OK, I'm biased, but that man really cared and everyone knew it.

    Have you heard pastors who seemed like they wept for you as they prepared the message? Do you know what it feels like to have a person of God communicate a message and you know they desperately, on a deeply personal level, want you to "get it." They truly care for your soul!

    Warren Wiersbe said it well: "A minister without feeling is no better than a book." R.W. Dale told G. Campbell Morgan that D.L. Moody was the only preacher that he felt had the right to preach about hell. Dale said, "I never heard Moody refer to hell without tears in his voice."

    There is no "how to" for this one! You either care or you don't. I'm assuming that you do, but be sure your people know you care. Tell them you love them. Tell them often. To truly care means to pay close attention to people and their needs. This brings heart to your message.
  3. Credibility
    When it comes to credibility, there is just no one like Billy Graham. You may be thinking, "Hey, he's not a pastor." Technically, you're right, but he's still my credibility hero when it comes to Christian communicators, so give me a little grace on this one.

    I like to raise the bar high as I evaluate myself in all eight areas, and the bar just doesn't get any higher when it comes to Dr. Graham: over 50 years without a blemish. He undoubtedly has one of the most public lives ever lived. His season of influence has outlasted the reign of kings. Presidents and world leaders still seek his counsel.

    We know all too well the many pastors who have fallen into moral failures. The impact of this on Christians and Christianity is devastating. Roger Ailes says it well: "You are the message."

    Pastor to pastor, let me beg you to make sure you have strong prayer partners and that you are in honest open community with those to whom you will tell the truth and will do the same for you. Don't think, "It couldn't happen to me." It can. It does. It happens daily.

    "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings" (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV).

    The kingdom needs you to stay strong.

    "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7 NIV).
Part two of this teaching will start with "Connection." For now, how are you doing in the first three areas of consecration, compassion and credibility?

This article is used by permission from
Dr. Dan Reiland's free monthly e-newsletter
The Pastor's Coach available at

Author Biography

Dan Reiland
Web site: 12 Stone Church
Dan Reiland is Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.

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