Ideas that Stick

In our approach to preaching (sometimes labeled the Big Idea approach), the main idea of the sermon is critical.  The idea is the core essence of a sermon that acts as boss over every other detail.  The main idea is like an arrow that is fired toward the target, and you want it to stick.  Consequently, anything I find about shaping a good idea is interesting to me.

Consider, for instance, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip and Dan Heath.  It’s not about preaching.  It’s about business.  One of the authors is a prof of organizational behavior and the other is a business consultant.  The focus is on business ideas, but they make some good points for us as preachers too.  After all, wouldn’t we love for the ideas we work so hard to craft as we study the Bible to be preaching ideas that “catch on” because they are memorable and clear?

In the next few posts I’ll share and apply the main principles from Made to Stick.

Principle 1 – Be Simple. The main idea in a sermon does not need to be dumbed down, but it does need to be stripped to the core of the idea, its critical essence.  The Heath’s do not simply teach that shorter is better.  A sound-bite is not the ideal.  According to the Heath’s, what is the ideal?  A proverb.  That which is both simple and profound.  We should be looking for the same.  Our initial attempts at stating the idea of a passage are usually both inaccurate and excessively long.  We must work to make the idea accurate and simplify it in order to get at the core essence.  Perhaps we would do well to aim for proverbial-like main ideas.  What do you think?

I’ll share more principles in part 2.

One thought on “Ideas that Stick

  1. Couldn’t agree more with this post Peter. This part of preparation is where I try to spend the most time on, because if I’m not clear and confident about this, the rest of my talk breaks down. It also keeps me from going down rabbit trails that may seem important to me, but most likely not my audience.

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