Winston Churchill was the ultimate dinner guest.
He was, that is, unless you wanted to get a word in edgewise.
Churchill monopolized the conversation, we are told. He did this particularly if the setting was his home in Chartwell and you were the guest. Even one guest was an audience and the man most assuredly did love an audience.
I suspect most preachers have that in common with him.
Now, if we have to sit there and listen to someone go on for an hour or more, most of us would prefer the speaker be a Winston Churchill. Or Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin.
But Churchill did something which made his conversation so unforgettable and his speeches so noteworthy: He planned in advance his little set speeches. Which is to say, he prepared his spontaneous remarks.
On a large number of subjects, Churchill had a set speech–that’s the only term that describes it–of a few minutes which he had worked out well in advance. He had thought the subject through, practiced expressing himself, discarding and rejecting and improving on expressions and words that did not carry the freight, searching for just the right word and the best explanation of his views on an issue.
When he got it just right, he added that little presentation to all the others filed away in his amazing brain.
This is what I am suggesting to pastors. But not for dinner conversation.
This is a helpful technique for your preaching.
Consider these five….
Consider these five subjects which every pastor should have thought through and should have a brief presentation on so that at the drop of a hat–or in response to a question or invitation–he can speak with just the right explanation that carries the day.
–What do you believe about the inspiration of the Scriptures, Pastor? After all, weren’t they written by men and didn’t the early church pick and choose what would go into them?
–What is the most effective way to present/explain the gospel to modern man? People today consider themselves too sophisticated to believe the Bible.
–What is the Christian position on abortion and the right-to-choose? Few subjects are as divisive in our generation as this one.
–I know Jesus was a good man and a great prophet, even, but why do you believe he was God in the flesh? Isn’t that a little extreme?
–Why does it matter whether Jesus rose from the dead? Many a religious founder is still in the grave and his religion goes forward.
And then there is the one huge subject on which every believer should always be prepared for…
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear, having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (I Peter 3:15-17)
Not only preachers and, pardon the term, professionals, but all other followers of Jesus should be prepared to explain themselves and give their testimony.
This means, we should…
–Be ready. God will not send advance warnings that sometime today you will have an opportunity to make an eternal difference in someone’s life. Be prepared.
–Ask the Father for His guidance in this. Pray!
–Think this through ahead of time. What do I believe? Why do I believe it? What is the basis for my believing such a thing?
–Discard anything that is unworthy, untrue, or unnecessary.
–Practice explaining it just as you might rehearse a speech you plan to give before an audience. Go over it repeatedly, looking for the best way of expressing your thoughts.
–Ask a friend to listen and give you feedback.
–Improve on your little set speeches as you grow and learn and as you change, for you surely will. Growth is all about change.
Do not miss the larger cautions the Apostle Peter gives to us as we would explain ourselves to the questioning world: Meekness. Fear (humility). A good conscience (don’t say anything you do not believe whole-heartedly). Making sure your life backs up what you claim.
May we represent our Savior well. May He use us for His glory. May we be ready at all times to step into the breach and do our job.