There Are Key Elements!
Previously, one of the articles highlighted the need to cut out unnecessary information. There is a limited amount of time that a speaker-preacher has (regardless of what you think is allowed or appropriate). There is a limited period of time during which an audience can effectively focus. Therefore, cut-cut-cut out the unnecessary!
Nevertheless, there are times where a speaker must make and take the time to layout a key element. At times, a speaker or preacher must make sure that a key element is included, explained, or defined. A “key element” means that without an understanding of that fact, concept, truth, cultural reference, word meaning, the listeners will miss and/or even be confused as to the point which is being made by you or in the passage.
There are some vital elements which must be known or understood which will require some introductory time before you actually deal with the passage or a particular point.
It is helpful to an audience to be altered to the fact that you are doing that . . . .
Let me take a moment in laying out an important concept, which without you will, and I would be confused.
Let me explain a keyword which is found in the passage, which the reader of the day would have picked up on, while we might miss as those who do not read the Bible in its original language.
There is a vital contextual or cultural understanding which makes this whole account understandable. A “fig tree”* is not something with which we deal with in our culture. In Luke 13:7 . . .
Let me establish, or lay down, a principle first, and then we will examine a passage which can then be seen as fleshing out that principle. It is in first understanding the principle that the passage opens up to us.
The writer assumes that you know this about “Nazareth” and if you do not, you will not get the import of what is being said to Jesus.
However, the point being made is more than the giving of a “verbal parenthetical clue” so that the audience knows what you are doing over the next few moments.
Rather, it is that there are times when a speaker must lay out some essential or indispensable “adjacent information.”
Are there Old Testament events or characters the audience may not know about, which is critical to understanding the passage? — i.e., Naaman.
Is there a cultural practice which the audience must understand or they will be lost as to what is actually happening?– i.e., levirate marriage
Is there a critical word used the passage which will confuse or distract the audience if I do not simply point it out and define it? — “concupiscence.”
Is there anything, which if the audience does not understand or know about, will leave them confused or lost?
While this problem happens less frequently in preaching, I see this happen all the time as I teaching Public Address on the college and/or university level. After the speech is over, and someone asks a question, then some say — “Oh — I didn’t understand that. Now I understand what you were saying.”
Now, there are those who will say, “Let me give you some context so that we understand what is happening” — while such is actually NOT necessary or the case.
Oh, there might be a person who is listening, who will not know what most everybody knows and understands. If that is the criteria for taking the time to lay out “adjacent information,” have at it. That will be the situation and demand most every message then.
Sometimes, it is because “we” studied it, they are going to hear about it.
Sometimes, we find in “interesting” and confuse that with “necessary.”
Too many times, it can be historical “filler” or “packing.” The test? — If left out would it make any difference?
All too typical is a preacher including too much unnecessary background and/or “last-sermon-review” information for his serial audience.
Nevertheless, it is also possible to “lose the point” by not seeing how important a key element is/was, which was not included, “seen,” or understood by the audience.
Example Of Key Elements:
I was reminded of key elements in communication after watching a recent advertising example. I was initially confused as to what was taking place until I watched it again.
If you missed seeing, or focusing on, and/or catching the implication of one key element of the advertisement, you would have been left confused.
The Nike Ad: A “Stopocalypse” has taken place — “I repeat: The world has stopped spinning — This is a crisis the likes of which planet earth has never seen — Top scientists are racing to come up with a solution.”
If you miss the hamster running on his exercise wheel in his cage, while the words, “Top scientist are racing to come up with a solution” are spoken, you missed a key element in understanding why people continue to join those who are running.
It is while a woman is watching the news, that she notices her hamster spinning on its wheel and decides to follow suit. That is the solution! Running like the hamster to get the earth spinning again.
It is possible to lose the impact of a message if the audience misses a key element which was not “seen,” understood, or left out.
Have you ever said . . . . “Oh — I forgot to tell you that . . . .”
- Crawford Loritts, “Going Through The Motions” clip about the fig tree