“How to be confident your audience will remember your point”

Tuesday Teaching Tips, Episode 92

What has a piece of string got to do with your audience remembering the point of your lesson? We learn from my friend Barry Edwards, and the prophet Ezekiel.

“Now, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a barber’s razor to shave your head and your beard. Then take a set of scales and divide up the hair. When the days of your siege come to an end, burn a third of the hair inside the city. Take a third and strike it with the sword all around the city. And scatter a third to the wind. For I will pursue them with drawn sword.” Ezekiel 5:1–2 NIV11

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God bless, Malcolm

The Sunday Sample – 27 August 2017

Reflections on Corporate Worship

Date:  Sunday 27th August 2017

Location: Watford & Lower Earley

Special Occasion: none

Both Watford and Lower Earley were empty! Seriously think we should consider having house-church on the August bank-holiday weekend. Not only are many away on holiday, but a bunch of Thames Valley folk are off at youth camp. We had a good time anyway, but a more intimate home-based service would be better.
 
The Watford service benefitted by us taking off from the school as soon as the service ended and popping across the road to the park. A new playground opened recently. The children had fun on the equipment while the parents picnicked in the sunshine. We must do that again. It rather looked as if some of the adults had fun too!

Speakers

I spoke in both locations. Not a common practice, but not a problem.
 
My lessons were OK. Not great, but not bad. Let me know what you think. The heat and small numbers made for a less energetic atmosphere than usual. But the engagement was reasonable. I know that my own assessment of my lessons is not always objective. I’ve often found that the lessons I think went well had little impact. The lessons I don’t like sometimes get the best feedback.
 
I aimed for 25 minutes in both locations and went longer. 29 minutes in both. Oh well, not far off. If you have any tips on shortening lessons, please leave a comment. See also this video on my YouTube channel.
 
Videos are here and here. Audio available at the Watford and Thames Valley churches of Christ iTunes podcasts.
 
Johan shared a deceptively simple, but profound communion talk. Here are his main points explaining the purpose of the Lord’s Supper using 1 Cor 10 & 11 as his source texts:
  1. Discernment – make sure we have a correct focus going into the Lord’s Supper
  2. Separation – from idols
  3. Communion – 1 Cor 10.16 – as in sharing together in something
  4. Remembrance – his name, works, life, exaltation
  5. Bond of Christian fellowship – 1 Cor 10.17
  6. Powerful proclamation – vital facts of the gospel
Note to self: keep working on succinctness.

Music Worship

Leon was awesome in Watford! Danny & Charl lead most of our songs, but they were away. Leon stepped in a led with passion and professionalism. He even got a round of applause for his leadership of one song. It’s endearing to see the way congregations warm to people stepping up to serve in faith.

Our song service in Lower Earley was super. Obi was majestic in his role as lead song-leader.

Other Thoughts

Last week I said I would:

  1. Lower Earley: confirm which person is leading which song well in advance – by Friday. Done
  2. Watford: keep my combined sermon and communion to no more than 25 minutes. Working on it….

The focus for next Sunday:

  1. Experiment with an opening set three-song medley sandwich in Bracknell. I’ll explain next week.
  2. Lead a devotional for all involved in the service in Bracknell.

Please comment on what you’re doing locally with your services. What are you trying that’s working? What is God teaching you?

Share reflections with us so we can grow and please God.

You can leave a comment below.

God bless,

Malcolm

 

Tuesday Teaching Tips, Episode 72 – “How to cut out the half you don’t need”

How to edit a talk

What’s the best way to edit a lesson? How do we know what to cut out? I’ve been using OmniOutliner to help with structuring my lessons, but I’m struggling to reduce my average sermon length to 25 minutes. It’s not that 25 minutes is the right goal for everyone, but I’m focussed on learning how to better edit my lessons. What do you do to edit your talks?

Audio:

 

Thank you for watching this video or listening to this audio.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

Thanks again for watching or listening. Have a terrific Tuesday and a wonderful week.

God bless,

Malcolm

The Sunday Sample, 25th June 2017

Reflections on corporate worship

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Location: Watford (Dunstable Downs) and Lower Earley

Special Occasion: outdoor service for the Watford church

We’re continuing our run of experimental services in the Watford church. This week saw us make an expedition to the Dunstable Downs. It’s a beautiful spot (highest in Bedfordshire) and gives views of the three counties of Bucks, Herts and Beds. A wonderful location to remind us of God’s vision for all peoples. After singing and praying we reflected on Matt 28.16-20.  Jesus took his disciples up a mountain at least in part to give them a vision –

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:16–20 NIV11)

The location has added poignancy for me because my parents brought me to the Downs when I was a baby. At the time we lived in nearby Luton.

Note to self: research the Watford church members to find out if they have places of spiritual significance locally that we could go to for the purpose of inspiration. 

 

Speakers

Fabian was our speaker in Lower Earley. His youthfulness, combined with an exceptionally able mind, meant we were treated to a fresh and well thought-through exposition on the story of Zacchaeus. Hearing him preach filled me with hope for the next generation. It’s vital we give these young people opportunities to teach.

Note to self: don’t forget to ask members of the congregation for feedback on young speakers so that I can give the young people well-balanced feedback, and not just my own opinions.

 

Music Worship

The singing at Dunstable was good – if a little affected by the fresh wind! We’d have benefitted from one song that was children-friendly. The Lower Earley singing was good – especially in the second half of the service  – for some reason I cannot fathom. Rudie assigned leaders to the songs in advance which made for a more settled sense of leadership. Rynhardt led, “Ancient of Days”, and helped us to utilise it the best so far – largely because he interspersed the sections with guiding us as to where the song was going (repeat chorus etc.). This style of leadership is very effective when there are many ways to get through a song.

The Lower Earley singing was good – especially in the second half of the service (for some reason I cannot fathom). Rudie assigned leaders to the songs in advance which made for a more settled sense of leadership. Rynhardt led, “Ancient of Days”, and helped us to utilise it the best so far – largely because he interspersed the sections with guiding us as to where the song was going (repeat chorus etc.). This style of leadership is very effective when there are many ways to get through a song.

Note to self: encourage more song leaders to do as Rynhardt did when appropriate.

 

Other Thoughts

Last week I said we would:

  1. Focus on agreeing who is leading which song in advance (Lower Earley) – done, and made a positive difference
  2. Prioritise ventilation – not needed this week

Focus for next Sunday:

  1. Thames Valley has the annual outdoor service at Wellington Country Park.  I will emphasise to all speakers the significance of being ready to move up front to do their part. When outdoors it is especially important to avoid delays at transition points.
  2. I will not be at the Watford service this week, but I will ask the speakers and song leader (Danny) if there is any way I can support them in my absence.

Please comment on what you’re doing locally with your services. What are you trying that’s working? What is God teaching you? Share reflections with us so we can grow and please God.

You can leave a comment below.

 

God bless,

Malcolm

The Sunday Sample, 11 June 2017

Reflections on Corporate Worship

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Date: Sunday 11th June

Location: Watford and Lower Earley

Special occasion: n/a

I just love the look on this young lad’s face! The astonished joy etched on the face of Enitoni was a sight to behold. He is looking at his candle-strewn birthday cake (just out of shot). We had a good time in Watford in the morning, and likewise in Lower Earley in the afternoon. Here follow a few reflections on both services.

Speakers

Both services featured inexperienced speakers. It added to the atmosphere of the occasions in a very positive way since the congregations were willing the speakers to do well, and the speakers themselves brought fresh perspectives. Leon preached his first sermon (highly recommended viewing/listening – check the Watford church of Christ podcast and YouTube channels). It will not be his last. Michael shared his first communion talk since being restored two years ago. Wale preached his second ever sermon in the UK.

Note to self: don’t be afraid to ask people to speak even if they are inexperienced.

Music Worship

The song services went well in both places. The opening song was preceded by the scripture which inspired the song – which helped connect the spiritual point with our hearts and minds. I would say it helped the focus of the worship. The communion song in Lower Earley was led without a leader in a central position. I sense this helped people reflect on the words more than usual.

Note to self: agree who is leading which song in advance. 

Other Thoughts

Focus for next Sunday

  1. Agree who is leading which song in advance (Bracknell)
  2. Use scripture to help us focus

Please comment on what you’re doing locally with your services. Share ideas with us so we can grow and please God.

Let me know your ideas. You can leave a message here, or send me an email: mccx@mac.com.

God bless,

Malcolm