10 Ways to Make Your Listeners Uncomfortable – cont.

Continuing ten ways to disturb the comfortable with your preaching:

6. Don’t make it clear when you are starting a rhetorical question. If the question slips in and people miss it, they then land in the pause as uncomfortable outsiders, unclear what it is they are supposed to be responding to.  Be sure to verbally, vocally, or even non-verbally, mark the start of a question intended to engage (even if rhetorical and they aren’t expected to answer out loud).

7. Give the impression that the answer to a rhetorical question is obvious, when it isn’t. Nothing like making people feel thick to add discomfort to their emotive experience inventory.

8. Give the impression that you need their facial response, but you’re not getting it. If you need it, look around and find someone whose face is encouraging (sometimes the grisly faces are grimacing in concentration – it’s the totally uninterested faces to be concerned about!)  If you request response too much and give the impression that you’re not getting it, then your listeners will grow uncomfortable trying to make you comfortable.  That’s not really their job.

9. Give a series of “it/this” statements without being clear what the “it/this” was. If they missed your original reference and then you string “it” sentences together, they’ll feel lost for long enough to grow uncomfortable.  “What difference would this make in our church?  What would it do in our nation?  What if your family put this into practice?  How might it change your life? Etc.”

10. Go for a big finish after a message that has barely got out of second gear. I was taught to make my introduction proportionate to the message – i.e. don’t overpromise and under-deliver.  The same is true of conclusions: don’t under-deliver then finish with an excessive bang.

There are other things, but I suppose I’d summarize some of this in this way.  Don’t be dependent on your listeners wanting you to succeed and being willing to go hunting for the message in what you are trying to say.  Instead prayerfully seek to be an arresting, engaging, confident, winsome, human and compelling communicator.  If you are uncomfortable, they will be doubly uncomfortable.  Once for themselves, and once for you.


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