How I Write A Message

When I first got into ministry my experience with creating and giving a message was few and far between.  I had given talks on retreats as a teen and college student, and studied communications in college, but there was a definite lack of experience.
It’s a little embarrassing to listen to earlier recordings and read some of my first transcripts.  In fact there have been times when I wondered, “How did I not lose my job?”  The answer to that question is because I found a system, a style and I got better.  I find my style comfortable and consistent.  And, while there is no one style to writing a message, I wanted to share with you all mine:

  • Plan Ahead:  Each year I get together with the Pastor and the Associate Pastor to talk about the topics we want to cover.  We look at the liturgical calendar, the topics are target audience faces and how to make vision stick.  Planning ahead gives me margin to research and reflect over each subject.
  • Start Out With One Point:  Once you have your theme, decide what it is you want them to know about the subject.  But, just make it one thing per series and get specific with each week.  Too much information will cancel itself out.  I want people walking away embracing that one point.
  • Create An Outline:  The outline I use was taken from Andy Stanley’s Communicating For Change (ME, WE, GOD, YOU & WE).  Having an outline will help you with flow, transitions, a hook and closure.  Having an outline means having a plan.  
  • Write It Out: Don’t make edits until you write out the majority of your document.  If you stop to fix one edit you might find yourself stuck on a detail, and then flying off on a tangent.  Just bust it out, take a break and then come back to it later.
  • Send It Out:  Have someone you trust to speak brutal truth into your life read, edit and comment on it.  After working on a message for hours or days you’ll need a new fresh of eyes.

While all these tips help me, the habit that’s helped the most is to continually write.  Carry with you a pen and piece of paper and just jot down ideas when they come to you.  Writing is like working out, you need to be persistent and do it on a regular basis even when it gets hard.  Again, how we present our message is important, but if it isn’t written well, we’ll be facing a frustrating, uphill battle.
What tips would share with those who write for a living?