The Receiver: Your Audience
Three Things Your Audience Is Doing While You Are Speaking
#2) Some listeners are mentally processing your understanding.
There is a natural deference to a speaker and specifically a pastor when it comes to an audience who is there purposefully, voluntarily, and typically by the membership. Nevertheless, as you yourself know from situations where you are a listener, you are still doing more than being an acquiescent listener.
Presence Does Not Speak Of Persuasion
You may choose to believe that your audience is not challenging your thinking or understanding of the passage. Whether they are as knowledgeable about the passage under consideration as you, do not conclude that they are convinced of your understanding of the passage.
Proof: Are there those who have said to you after your message . . . .
“You know, I was taught that the passage says . . . .”
“I was thinking that the passage meant this-or-that.”
“My translation uses the word _____ and it seems to imply _______”
“I turned to this other passage while you were speaking, which says . . . . .”
“How does that fit in with this-or-that other truth?”
“There is another side to that truth which you did not mention.”
“Pastor, you said that to honor our parents, we ought to obey our parents. I was thinking, what if our parents ask us to do something we know is wrong, or . . . . “
. . . . All these kind of questions, coming from various members of the church — (including your own wife at dinner – haha) — asked and/or unasked, signal that the audience is doing something while we are speaking.
It is not that they disagree, but neither are they necessarily convinced – at least not yet.
Put together any number of these factors . . . .
- different translations
- “individual soul liberty”
- being “an independent ________” (this-or-that)
- “that’s your interpretation”
- previous beliefs
- The First Amendment
- what he/she was taught by another pastor
- it isn’t what they want the passage to say
- related positions which conflict with that meaning
- taught to be “Berean Christians”
- the implications of the truths / passage
- fellow Bible class teachers
- fellow biblical scholars
- being an American (No one can tell us that we have to _____!)
- the balancing truths of Scripture
- cross-referencing Bibles
- study Bibles and notes
- beliefs about biblical manners & customs
AND don’t forget this factor . . . .
- when you begin “meddling” (it touches their life)
AND add in this factor . . . .
- 30-45 minutes to check you out in their Bibles
If you have spent any time in the local church ministry, you well-realize that there are passages, topics, beliefs, and/or truths which are resisted — even though . . . .
you spent hours in your study
you are the one who attended seminary
they have just read the passage for the first time that morning
you read Greek & Hebrew
you have been there for years
you are aware of divergent views which most have never considered
you are probably accurate
. . . . “some” ( I would suggest “many” – more than you or I would like to believe) will still be “agnostic listeners” – “a doubting Thomas” = (that phrase should settle it!)
√ Some are passively following and agreeing with your understanding of the passage. They just follow and believe your grasp of the passage.
√ Some are still mentally multi-tasking as they desire to arrive where you are in your understanding of the passage.
√ Some are routinely unconvinced because they believe that is part and parcel of being a wise and careful believer.
√ Some are clearly resistant to what you are saying about this passage (maybe virtually all you teach-preach – which bespeaks of another problem). They do not see themselves in your theological tent, or in your theological encampment when it comes to this-or-that doctrine.
While you are speaking, your audience is . . . .
Mentally multi-tasking, fed by a variety of factors.
AND because of that, we need to plan and/or adjust to that reality before and while we are speaking. I say, “while” because the realization that some are questioning what I am saying at times catches me while I am speaking).
Ask yourself some questions. . . .
- Where or what are the questionable or disputable points of the message?
- What questions have come up before, which are probably still present today?
- What are some of the other translations?
- What is the historic understanding of the passage?
- What is worth dying over? Major on the Major
- Can you encourage independent biblical thinking and investigation?
- Could you be wrong about this area / position / understanding?
- What is the balancing principle & should I at least mention it?
How about including such comments as . . . .
- I understand that there are those who will and even do disagree with me about this.
- This task is never over. We will battle until we reach the shores of heaven.
- I recognize that there are other positions.
- Let me identify the 2 most common positions / objections.
- Here is the proof . . . . Look at verse . . . .
- We do not need to agree on everything, but we do need to think through what others understand Scripture to teach.
- We can still love Jesus and work together when we fall on one side or the other of our understanding of Scripture.
- When we all get to heaven, those who take the position ____ will finally arrive where they also understand that _______ (adding a little humor always helps)
- (My favorite) — I am only presenting one side of this area. That is what the passage is addressing. While you may be thinking about a principle of Scripture which pushes against this principle, it is not in the writer’s purvue at this point as he addresses God’s people at ______.
Such comments will not only take the edge off as people listen, but such comments also help pastors lower the resistance of the skeptical, differing, or rejecting.
We can also end up sounding a little more reasonable!
Remember . . . .
Presence Does Not Speak Of Persuasion
P. S. It is worth noting that Andy Stanley repeatedly communicates that some audience members may not agree with “this-or-that.” Whether you agree or like that approach, at least he has a handle on the fact that while he is speaking there may be listeners who are doing more than listening, that some would disagree — which perhaps is truer today than in the preceding decades. In fact, it may be accurate that a growing church wisely recognizes this reality. It will be the homogenous-satisfied church congregation which is dismissive of this audience factor.