Several months ago, a friend of mine and I were discussing how difficult it is in our present time to train up new communicators. Remember old-school church… You had at least four different platforms to allow new communicators to get reps. Sunday School, Sunday morning service, Sunday night service, Wednesday night service, and if that wasn’t enough, you still had the youth group available for them to get their heresy out of the way. Today, however, most of us only have one type of service, and we wouldn’t dare let an amateur take the stage there. It left me thinking… Where is the batting cage where I can get these men and women ready for the game? How can we help communicators connect with their audience and connect the audience with God’s word? We are still working on this problem, but one promising visualization is allowing us to present a technique that transcends style and grows our communicators. Without destroying their individuality, we want to help amateur communicators take giant strides without giant risks.

After looking at some of our favorite speakers, we were able to see a pattern emerge in their communication. They were able to go seamlessly from depth to what we call stickiness and back again without much effort, and they went back and forth many times during their talks. Attached is a chart we created to help explain this method to new communicators.

On the top end of this graph is stickiness. Sticky elements of a sermon are the elements that people remember. For all you funny guys out there, this is your go to area. Hilarious stories, visuals, surprises… You get the idea.

Jesus did this a lot. He’d say, “The kingdom of heaven is like a _______.” This was sticky because it related an unseen kingdom to a seen world. Stickiness matters in a sermon because it connects the dots for the audience. I try to keep in mind that if a teenager can’t follow this train of thought, then I need to rework it.

The bottom part of this graph has a very creative name, “depth.” Depth would be not just a Bible verse, but a contextual explanation. It would be an exposition about the passage that you would only know if you had memorized the full Matthew Henry Commentary and could read Biblical Hebrew. Of course, I’m kidding (because my default is stickiness), but depth would require more nerding out on a topic. Think of depth like free diving. You take a deep breath and then go deep into the waters, and just hang out. The trouble is that not everyone can hold their breath as long as you can, so you must surface or drown your audience. However, the answer is not to just skip going deep. The answer is to take deep dives, but come up for air often. Your audience needs depth, but they also need to connect it to their lives. 

Here’s the trouble with nearly all of us; we have a tendency, as I just proved with my writing. We tend to go one way or the other. Think about your leaning; we all have a preference. I love hanging out on the sticky side; it’s just a preference. However, I must also connect the sticky to the depth. Stickiness might grow our crowd, but our crowd won’t grow. I want both. I want the amount of people I reach to grow, but big deal if I don’t help the people I reach grow. I need both, and I need both every Sunday. I read recently that the average “consistent church-goer” attends once every six weeks. 

If that is true, I can’t dedicate an entire day to just one side of this graph.

Please don’t hear me wrong… We very well might have a series designed to reach new people, (sticky) but we’ll still throw in some shallow dives into the bottom part of that graph. On the other hand, if we run a series intended to draw people deeper into their relationship with the Lord, we still must come up for air occasionally into the sticky zone.

Every communicator should take their audience back and forth into different heights and depths of these two halves. We want our communicators to move  seamlessly back and forth multiple times in a service, helping people understand the mysteries of God and clearly communicating what God has placed in them to be said.

Paul, when he is giving instruction on communion, says in 1 Corinthians 11:23, “For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself…” The main thing every communicator should know is that we must receive before we can communicate God’s message. However, by God’s beautiful design, He allows “The Way” to be communicated in a variety of ways. God uses each of our giftings, experiences, styles, current circumstances, and platforms to share the same word in unique ways. One of our greatest challenges as communicators is not allowing our tendencies to monopolize our communication. We need both sides of this coin no matter our tendency. I hope this simple chart helps you, and as you become “all things to all men,” I pray your church grows in every way.

Marcus & Chelsea Briggs are the lead pastors of Riverpark Church. They work hard to present Jesus to the world around them in a passionate and authentic way. They believe that church should be a place where everyone is welcome, and they seek to make Riverpark that place. Marcus and Chelsea desire to further the influence of Jesus in the Shreveport-Bossier area by fostering community both within and outside of Riverpark. Their life’s goal is to make a difference in others’ lives by helping them know and love God. Marcus and Chelsea enjoy spending time with their three children, playing tennis, and building community with friends and family.