Me … We … God … You … We …
As you might well surmise from the transcribed sermons I repeatedly use as examples I believe that Andy Stanley is one of the most effective communicators of our era. That is both due to the age in which we live and his unique skills of communication. Andy Stanley understands our age*, which some pastors and speakers have yet to realize or accept, and he is a natural and gifted communicator.
As all of us would say when it comes to mentioning or recommending nationally known Bible preachers and teachers, who are therefore almost automatically controversial because of either their comments or positions (We would be just as controversial, but we are not close to being known nationally), “I do not agree with all that Andy Stanley preaches and teaches.” — Nor do I have to be in agreement to appreciate his communication skills.
Andy Stanley is known for what is called the — “Me-We-GodYou-We structured sermon.” You can find a discussion of this in his book “Communication for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication” — This book is a must-read for teachers, preachers, and speakers for more than his presentation of this sermon structure!
- ME (Orientation) – Introduce yourself and your topic – find common ground with your audience.
- WE (Identification) – Build an emotional common ground with your audience – build as many bridges emotionally as possible.
- GOD (Illumination) – God has a solution for us today – engage your audience with the text
- YOU (Application) – Find one point of application everyone can embrace.
- WE (Inspiration) – cast a vision – prompt a decision by briefly describing what would happen if this group of people would follow what has been taught
— Andy Stanley
Here is an example of the “Me-We” part of his sermon structure. As always, it is a direct transcript of the message and is broken up as it is in order to reflect the actual message, because the art of speaking is not the art of writing!
It is from the introduction of a message titled, “On Location: Shine.” I selected this one on purpose because Andy reverses the “Me-We” in this message and goes “We-Me.”
Either way (“Me-We” or “We-Me”) this rhetorical technique still . . . .
- identifies you with your audience
- introduces the Big Idea
- brings the listeners into the real-life nature of the message
- is effective
One of the things that we all have in common — and we’ll kind of get into this “On Location” thing in just a second — but this is kind of interesting — isn’t true that at some point in your life — when you went from my childhood to adulthood — and it may have been when you’re a senior in high school — or maybe a senior in college — or I don’t know when it happened — but there’s this — there’s this transition we all go through — we all decide either consciously or subconsciously that — you know what I’ve got to figure out what works for me — there’s this thing of — I’ve got to start you know — I know what my parents said — I know what the church said — I know what my granddaddy always told me and all this stuff — and I know what common sense says — but uhm — I got to figure out what works for me and so we all — at some level — all of us — begin experimenting with life — and maybe again it was that freshman year in college or maybe as the first week of the freshman year in college we decided I’m going to do everything I was always told not to do because I got to see if it works for me — I got to figure out what I’m missing out on — maybe it was when you got your driver’s license — maybe it was after college you came to Atlanta got your first job in a big city you were anonymous nobody knew anything about you and so you kind of had the freedom to experiment —
But all of us to some extent — all of us — this is normal all of us experiment with life — to figure out what works for us because there’s something in you and there’s something in me that wants to figure out how do I get happy — how do I be happy — you know — how do I make myself happy — what kind of decisions – relationships will make me happy — and so you know — when you transition to adulthood you just experiment. . . .
And who wants to think about purpose — in fact I remember — I grew up in church so I you know I heard you zillions of sermons and every once in a while this issue of purpose would crop up and I was like a good kind of Christian — you know preacher’s kid kind of guy — but I can remember having these thoughts when somebody would talk about — discover your purpose in life — I would think — I don’t really care what my purpose is — who is — who that is — you know that — I don’t care — I want to have more money — or I want to get one of — drive one of those — I mean — I mean I’m sure purpose is important but — purpose doesn’t grab any emotion in me — at all — what grabs emotion or what you know charges me up emotionally is — what am I going to do — where am I going to do it — and who is going to be there — the whole issue of “why” just was just not on the radar screen.
Andy’s message illustrates some other great and interesting rhetorical techniques,** which we will reserve for another time.
I NEVER tired of listening to him, and he always illustrates some interesting techniques of effective communication!
*This is not only an age of short attention spans, but it is an age of . . . .
- job & financial pressures
- family demands
- ever and readily present alternate theological voices
- this world’s attractions
all which push and pull God’s people all kinds of different directions.
Pastors who fail to understand these real-life demands often . . . .
- fail to “review & red-line” portions of their message which are unnecessary or extraneous to the point
- lack rhetorical variety, change, and movement
- ruin a good 35-40 minute message in 60 minutes.
** Okay, here is another interesting rhetorical technique Andy uses in this message — taking a noun and making it an adjective . . . .
but all of us to some extent all of us this is normal all of us experiment with life to figure out what works for us because there’s something in you and there’s something in me that wants to figure out how do I get happy — how do I be happy — you know — how do I make myself happy — what kind of decisions — relationships will make me happy — and so — you know — when you transition to adulthood you just experiment.
So we make some happiness decisions — right — and we spend some happiness money –and we get into some happiness relationships — and then we get out of those happiness relationships — because I mean it didn’t me so happy — then I got into a new one — then I spent some more happiness money — then I wish I hadn’t leased that happiness car and you know — buy a happiness condo — you know
- some happiness decisions
- spend some happiness money
- into some happiness relationships
- out of those happiness relationships
- some happiness money
- leased that happiness car
buy a happiness condo