Identifying A Specific Audience . . . .

you pict 1   Add Variety!  Change It Up!

Again, there are different rhetorical techniques which can be used to give variety to a speech or a message.  It is not that one is necessarily better than another, but that the different techniques give variety to speaking — especially when you are speaking to a “come-again audience.”

There is a reason that the average person only lives 11.5 years in a house and remodels that house several times during those 11 years.  Homeowner warranties are offered because such warranty businesses know that the average owner will not be in that house for even 15 years.  The shingles are guaranteed for 25 years (and even 30, or 40 years), but the warranty is now void because the original homeowner is no longer there.*

Likewise, the average car owner only owns his/her car for 6.4 years and trades it in for another new or used model, not typically because of maintenance issues which could not or can not be resolved.  Car manufacturers offer a 100,000-mile warranty / with a 10, 8 or 5-year deadline because they understand that most car owners will trade in that car long before that mileage or those deadlines.

Such is the case because . . . .

we like are created to desire variety, change, newness, movement, color, difference, action. 

Various rhetorical techniques offer some different ways to . . . .

  • structure the speech
  • design an introduction
  • frame a point
  • drive a Big Idea
  • understand a biblical truth
  • conclude a message
  • expand the content
  • develop a truth
  • illustrate a point
  • approach a parable
  • capture an idea
  • make a transition
  • provide background/context
  • run with an analogy
  • etc.


John Ortberg provides an example of introducing and beginning a message in a different way.  He is going to specifically identify the audience to which he is speaking, and inject a little humor into it as well.

(Audio clip — John Ortberg – “Empty Tomb”)


And the more I thought about this, the more it seemed like — this Easter would be a really good time to talk in particular about resurrection and history.


And so I’ll tell you who in particular I am eager to speak to this moring in this talk.


If you’re here – and you would say that you are interested in spiritual life


You believe in — or at least are open to the existence of God and there being a spiritual dimension to human beings —


the possibility of life after death.


But to be really honest about it — you’re not real sure about the Jesus thing


– not real sure about the miracles, did they really happened


– not really sure about the “came back to life deal” —


You maybe have some reservations about Jesus being the only way to God.


And here’s what I want to talk about in this message


that Christianity at its heart is not a set of ethical teachings – – although of course, it contains them.


It’s not a set of practices – – although if you follow Jesus, you’ll want to adopt his way of life.


At its heart – the Christian faith got started as a claim about something that happened in history.

That Jesus rose


And there’s a group of people who said they saw it.


They touched it.


They heard it.


They were there  – they were witnesses.


and they’re either right, or they’re wrong.


And if you’re kind of wonder about that.

If you’ve got some mixed feelings around it

I am so glad that you’re here today.

You’re the person I want to talk to.


And I know some of you are saying right now — “Hey I’m not in that category — I don’t have those questions — what about me?


Well for the next twenty minutes or so you’re just stuck here.


Happy Easter!


So I’m going to ask that we all be kind of patient


It’s a little bit of an unusual message for Easter . . .



Ortberg illustrates just a different way to go about beginning or introducing a message.  He clearly identifies the audience to which the message will apply, while obviously realizing that he is not actually going to leave out all others, that those who are not in the particularly described category will also want to listen.

The method can be quantified with a simple template, although you may not have thought about step one as it is laid out below.

#1) Identify the audience you want to address in one of two ways.

a – The passage identifies the audience.

– i.e., I Corinthians 7 – those who have unbelieving spouses

– i.e., Philippians 4 – those who are here this morning and struggling today with contentment.

b- You want to direct the passage to a specific audience.

– i.e., John 3:1ff — those who would say the same thing about Jesus that Nicodemus did — a man from God, but not the Messiah

– i.e., I Samuel 17 — those who would say with David that there is a cause which they feel deeply enough about, that though they are the most unlikely, they are willing to be that one who will stand for such a cause.


#2) Verbally expand a little on that particular audience.  Notice, that Ortberg sought to bring in that audience using various possible descriptions of those who fell into that category.

you would say . . .  you would say . . . you believe in . . . not real sure . . . not really sure . . .  may have some reservations about


#3) Announcement:  “You’re the person I want to talk to this morning.”


#4) Remnant Disclaimer: “What about me?” — There are several ways you can bring in the audience who does not fit into that specified audience.

Humor:  The humor works (listen to the laughter, especially after the pause and the words “Happy Easter). The audience knows that they are not in fact excluded.

Eavesdrop: If that isn’t you, you can eavesdrop on the message.  There may be parts and pieces which will help clear up some questions you have as a believer (as a person not facing this-or-that) — and of course they know that will be the case!

Useful Wisdom: If that isn’t you, it may be that it isn’t you today.  However, probably if we live long enough, we will all find ourselves in this-or-that situation.

Other Usefulness:  If that isn’t you — praise the Lord, but you will come across others who are in such a situation.  Listen in, and perhaps you will be able to use this passage, to understand this passage, in a way that you can use it to help someone else today or someday.

Monitor:  Sometimes we just need to listen into what advice or help is being said to others — like going along with a friend to the doctor’s office — so we can reinforce what has been said.

Wiretap: Perhaps no one knows but you, but the Lord has been wiretapping your life, and He knows you need to hear this as well.






*”Keep in mind that, if you are not the original owner of the shingles on your roof, you may not have coverage under the manufacturer’s warranty; most manufacturers, including GAF, limit coverage to the original owner and the first subsequent owner as long as the new owner notifies the manufacturer of the change in ownership as set out in the limited warranty.” — “

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.