Stand and Deliver Resources
Part B: Preparing a talk
B.2 Deciding what to speak on
We will always have to make a decision as to what we will speak on. This applies even if we are given a theme or bible passage. Within any theme or bible passage, there will be multiple options for what we focus on in our talk, and what our 'take away' message will be.
Whether we're starting from a blank slate or from a given theme/passage, we have to make a decision. For Christians, this means discerning what the Spirit wants us to speak on. But what does that actually look like?
The initial idea
Below are some examples of questions you can ask yourself to help you discern where the Spirit might want to lead you when preparing your talk. These questions aren't guaranteed to give you a clear answer! But they may help you if you are struggling to gather your thoughts.
If you've been given a 'blank slate' to choose whatever you want to speak on:
- Has there been a particular bible passage that has stuck out to you lately?
- In your recent small group, was there a faith topic or bible passage that really got you talking?
- Have you been mulling over a particular aspect of God's character lately?
- When you have an idle moment - e.g. on the bus or waiting for a lift - what does your mind turn to?
If you've been given a theme to speak on:
- When you think about this theme, what's the first thought that comes to mind?
- Do you recall a bible passage that relates to this theme?
- Have you had any real-life experiences lately that relate to this theme?
- If you could ask God one question about this theme, what would it be?
If you've been given a bible passage to speak on:
- When you read this bible passage, is there a particular section or word that jumps out at you?
- Does this passage relate to something that's been going on in your life lately?
- Does this passage excite you / encourage you / comfort you / prompt you to dig deeper? Why?
- Do you find this passage confusing or uncomfortable? Why?
Cast your net wide
In the 'Loud and Clear' resources, Ali Martin talks about how once you've got your initial idea, you cast your net wide. This means exploring this idea broadly - i.e. noticing what comes to mind, reading the bible and other books/blogs/commentaries and articles, looking out for illustrations in your life, or looking out for inspiration that comes through things you watch or conversations you have or songs you sing. Ali talks about being a detective by following 'leads' that the Spirit might be putting in front of you, and seeing where they take you.
Find your focus
Once we've cast our net wide, we need to find our focus. You may have come across many great insights, illustrations or lessons that fit your theme or bible passage, but we won't be able to fit them all in the one talk. We need to discern what to include now, and what to save for another time. We need to ask God "What do you want to say to these people at this time?".
Some suggestions from the 'Loud and Clear' book on finding your focus:
- Spot the part in our preparation that we get particularly excited or passionate about. Chances are that is our main focus!
- Look for a common thread that links all your ponderings together.
- Ask "What is my bottom line; the one thing I've love God to help me get across, the one thing I'd love people to go away with?"
- Ask "Can I describe my talk, or the emphasis of my talk, in one sentence?" (it doesn't have to be a catchy phrase at this stage; you just want to be able to explain what you really want to say in a succinct way).
>> More to help you decide what to speak on:
- Read: 'What to preach when you don't know what to preach' by Joel A'Bell for Hillsong Leadership Network (360 words)
- Listen: Podcast episode Loud and Clear Part 1 by Ali Martin at Soul Survivor UK Week A 2016 (44mins)
- Read: Chapters 2, 3 and 4 of 'Loud and Clear' book.
- Watch: Loud & Clear Session 2: Having a focus (50 minutes):
This content is provided free, however all content is copyright Redhill Church unless stated otherwise (we refer to the work of other individuals and organisations throughout - see list in Part D). So feel free use these resources personally and in your own church, however if reproducing this content please ensure all copyright holders are credited accordingly.