Communicating for a Change – Pick A Point

One of Andy Stanley’s strengths is his ability to laser beam focus on only one point and really drive it home. In the last post on this book I mentioned that you have to know where your goal is. Notice I didn’t say what your goal is but where. The point in that is you are trying to take someone from point A to point B. Communication is a journey. Journeys are trying to get people to one place, not two, three, four, five, or more places. So Stanley believes having one point and communicating it to the best of his ability makes for great communication. He goes on to say, “once that point, that idea, that destination is clear, then the goal is to bend everything in the message toward that one thing.” (p.101)

In picking the one point approach Andy vocally dispells the multi-point method. He has a few reasons for doing so that you may or may not agree with. Ironically, he has three points in explaining why he believes three point preaching is not the most effective way to get results:

  1. By the time you get to the final point people hardly remember the first couple. “Whatever impact they might have made is washed away by the information and illustrations that follow. On a good day, it is that last point that usually sticks.” (p.102)
  2. We don’t live lives full of lists of points, “so there’s no compelling reason to remember a list of points.” (101)
  3. Points are designed to “move people through an outline” and he admittedly says good things can and will come from that, “But if life change is your goal, point by point preaching is not the most effective approach.” (101)
    1. He makes it clear that life change can and does come from this form of preaching but in his view it is not the “most effective” way to produce it.

In some ways this makes preaching easier. Each point of a sermon can now become a sermon to itself. That makes coming up with creative sermon ideas way easier because if you use that approach you now have 1/3 as many creative ideas to come up with each week. Those three points can now be three sermons with one point each. That makes for a good series!

So how do you get your one point, and yes you should have one point!? Stanley poses two questions that must be asked before of the sermon before it is delivered (p.104):

  1. “What is the one thing I want my audience to know?”
  2. “What do I want them to do about it?”

This does two things. It defines the focus of the sermon by setting the one thing that everything in the sermon needs to point back to and support. Next, it gives direction by setting up what the sermon must communicate in order to produce the desired result, call, or action on the audience. Let’s face it, change isn’t change unless something happens and pew sitting alone isn’t that something.

The next post will review how he goes about developing the one single point in each lesson.

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

2 Responses to Communicating for a Change – Pick A Point

  1. James Wood says:

    I like the principle of making one point and making it well, but I think that Stanley may take it to the unhealthy-extreme. I’ve tried to listen to his sermons and about ten minutes in I feel like shouting: “I get it! Move ON!” The closest analogy for me is Saturday Night Live sketches where they take one joke and make it, and then rehash that joke for the next five minutes.

    But I really do like the principle and purpose of preaching the way he does. I think I prefer a bit more nuance and depth to the one-point whereas Stanley delivers his one-point like a fire-hose.

    • mattdabbs says:

      I have had that same feeling at times. But you know, I would rather say “Ok, I get it” than…”you have been talking for 20 minutes and I still don’t know what you are trying to say.”

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