Book Review: Communicating for a Change by Stanley and Jones

The purpose of Communicating for a Change is to present a method of teaching (preaching, really) which has as its aim life transformation. To that end, Stanley gives 7 imperatives:

1)      Determine your goal. Answer the question, why am I preaching in the first place?

2)      Pick a point. Out with the multi-point messages aimed at data transfer. Instead, pick a point, reinforce it, illustrate it, and make it stick. Communicate your burden.

3)      Create a map. A map looks like an outline but it’s not one. It’s the stops along the journey to get to The Point. It’s relational. Stanley’s messages always follow this map: ME-WE-GOD-YOU-WE. A map creates tensions, then resolves it.

4)      Internalize your message. You don’t have to memorize it, but no it inside and out. If you need notes to remember your sermon, just how important is it to you, really?

5)      Engage your audience.

6)      Find your voice.

7)      Start all over. Ask yourself some key questions. What do they need to know? Why do they need to know it? What do they need to do? How can I help them remember? If you can’t answer these questions, you’re not done.

Communicating for a Change is split into two parts. The first part, written be Lane Jones, is a story about a weary pastor getting sage advice from a truck driver. If you’re like me, you’ll want to skip this part. Resist the temptation. It feels cheesy at first but the story really does help you understand the point of the book.

The second part of the book is Stanley’s contribution and it follows the outline listed above.

I have a couple of minor issues with Communicating for a Change, written about in the blog posts linked above. But, it has this going for it – of all the books on homiletics I read in Seminary this is the one that has stuck with me the most. Its advice is compelling, practical, and memorable. Of those books, this is the one I would recommend to anyone interested in improving their preaching skills because of its accessibility. Preachers young and old can benefit from reading it.

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