Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Why I Use a Message Guide for the Sermon

Have you ever wondered why I provide a message guide hand-out for the sermon each Sunday? We’ve done this since our very first service. Now we even project the sermon outline with the scriptures on the screen. Ever wonder why? Are we just trying to be cool and cute, or is there a strategic reason why?

We do it for a reason. It helps produce better converts, better disciples, and better retention of God’s Word.

Here’s TEN REASONS why I use them:

1. The unchurched or nominal attenders usually do not bring a Bible.

When unsaved people show up to church they usually do not bring a Bible with them because they don’t even own one. Even if they did bring a Bible, they can’t find their way around in it. By providing a message guide with the scriptures already printed, it allows them to keep up and most importantly, the message guide GETS THE WORD into their hands.

2. It relieves embarrassment in finding a text.

Okay, in any given church people are at different levels of familiarization with their Bibles. Some people can turn to a text anywhere in the Bible within a matter of seconds. Others can’t – they have to use the table of contents. By providing a message guide with the scriptures already printed, it relieves embarrassment for those who haven’t learned to keep up yet.

3. It removes the tension between the “IN” crowd and the “OUT” crowd.

4. They can be used for Small Group Discussion.

5. I can cover more material in less time.

With the scriptures already provided I don’t lose any time having to wait for everyone to turn to the different passages that we will cover on any given Sunday. This enables me to cover more material and more ground, and everyone is keeping up at the same pace.

6. It increases participation from the congregation.

I can say, “circle that word” or “underline that phrase.” This increases congregational participation which also leads to better retention of key points.

7. The message guide (and overhead screen) provides visual reinforcement.

Let’s face it. Most people are visual learners; we learn best by the things we see. Just the physical act of looking at the key points in the message guide or on the screen increases learning and "imprinting."

8. Without it, people forget 90% of what they hear within 72 hours.

The United States Air Force conducted a study and discovered that the average person forgets 90% of what they hear within 72 hours (3 days)! That is very discouraging. That means that most church attenders will forget what the pastor’s sermon was about by Wednesday. No matter how good it was, or how deep the truths are, they’ll forget. They will forget what Bible passages he read from and where he taught from.

Enter the message guide. We use a fill-in-the-blank message guide. By writing down the main points, and taking notes, the participant better remembers the content, which ultimately leads to better life-change.

9. The message guides can be kept for future reference.

10. They change lives.

God’s Word changes lives. It doesn’t matter if people are hearing it, reading it from their Bible, or reading it from a message guide – the Word is the Word in any form of delivery.

I am interested in getting God’s Word into people any way I can.