Over the past few years I’ve come across quite a number of people who talk about preaching and recommend Haddon Robinson’s book, but don’t really understand Robinson’s teaching on the subject. It seems that some people are impressed with aspects of the book, Biblical Preaching, but don’t really grasp some of the core teaching of it. In particular, the nature and power of the Big Idea in preaching. Today I’d like to focus on communication, but will continue the series tomorrow in respect to biblical studies, then finish with a focus on the Spirit of God. Do we really get the Big Idea?
The Big Idea is about communication – Many seem content with a series of points loosely connected to each other by a common text, or a common term, or simply a parallel outline. This may help the communicator and win the approval of listeners for whom a supposedly memorable outline is the chief end of preaching, but it isn’t really getting the point of the Big Idea. Robinson’s teaching on the Big Idea goes much further and pushes the communicator to pursue a genuine unity in their message, a Big Idea that filters down through every level of the message so that there is a genuine unity (rather than a superficial collaboration of elements). A true Big Idea message will have inherent unity, effective order and compelling progress. A true Big Idea message can be communicated in a single sentence.
Actually, Robinson’s insight on the nature of communication is rarely grasped. We communicate in ideas. Not words. Not information. Ideas. Yet so many preachers continue to speak words without planning how they will communicate ideas. An idea says something about something. An idea can only be developed in three ways – explained, proven, applied. If you grasp Robinson’s book, then you’ll know what you are trying to do at any point in your message. You won’t just be speaking, you’ll be seeking to effectively communicate. Your message will be a collection of sub-ideas, all serving the goal of the Big Idea. And if time is short, you’ll use your Big Idea with less elaboration, for that is the message!
Tomorrow I’ll continue these thoughts with a focus on biblical studies in relation to the Big Idea.