Place 3 – Starbucks. Huh?
Let me clarify before I start into this that I personally don’t tend to pick Starbucks (or pray in a closet, for that matter), but the principle applies. I have a good friend, and a preacher I highly respect, who does literally go to a coffee shop for this phase of his preparation.
He takes five 3×5 cards and puts names on the cards – the names of individuals in the church, a cross section, essentially. With his five listeners spread out on the table, and surrounded by real life and culture, he is then able to prepare the message. He can ask himself as he goes, “would this communicate to Jim?” or “How would Kerry take that?”
The goal in this place? To prepare a message that will effectively communicate the prayed-through main idea of the passage to the particular listeners as an act of love for them and for the Lord.
The best biblical content will be wasted if it isn’t targeted appropriately. Our task is not to make the Bible relevant. It is. Our task is to emphasize that relevance. And by definition, something can only be relevant to specific people. Relevant to this age. Relevant to this culture. Relevant to this community. Relevant to this church. Relevant to these individuals.
So John Stott was on target when he urged preachers to be at home not only in the world of the Bible, but also the world of the listener. Haddon Robinson took the two worlds notion and expanded it to distinguish contemporary culture from the specific culture of the local church. So we can misfire with traditional presentations in a changing culture, as we can with postmodern engagements in a church that hasn’t gone there.
Whether we sit in Starbucks, or ponder the church’s phone list. Wherever we spend time with church members and people from the community we seek to mark. Somehow we need to make sure our messages are more than great biblical content. They have to be on target, and to be on target, we must know the hearts we aim to reach.