I just finished reading John Maxwell’s new book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, and I’ll be talking about it in a future CLI Newsletter (you are getting the newsletter aren’t you? if not, click here).
Here’s a powerful story that Maxwell shares in this book:
President Abraham Lincoln, an incredible communicator, was known during the Civil War to attend a church not far from the White House on Wednesday nights. The preacher, Dr. Gurley, allowed the president to sit in the pastor’s study with the door open to the chancel so he could listen to the sermon without having to interact with the crowd.
One Wednesday evening as Lincoln and a companion walked back to the White House after the sermon, the president’s companion asked, “What did you think of tonight’s sermon?”
“Well,” Lincoln responded, “it was brilliantly conceived, biblical, relevant, and well presented.”
“So, it was a great sermon?”
“No,” Lincoln replied. “It failed. It failed because Dr. Gurley did not ask us to do something great.” Inspiring communicators always expect a lot from their listeners.
I often joke about my propensity for “crash-landing” my sermons, but one thing I’ve learned to check for in every sermon I prepare: What am I asking these people to do with what I teach them? I call it “preaching for next steps.”
The point is – as President Lincoln noted above – no matter how biblical, relevant, well presented or even brilliant your message may be, the lack of a clear and compelling call to action will render it a failure in motivating people to radical obedience.
So, what do you expect of the people you’ll be preaching to this Sunday?
What is the great thing that you’re going to challenge them to do?
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