When you are planning your message, consider your relevancy strategy. When and how will you demonstrate the relevance of your message?
The Bible is relevant. We don’t need to “make it relevant,” but we do need to demonstrate how it is relevant. Here are seven quick points to consider:
1. There is a logic to the traditional Application-at-the-End strategy. Logically, we do explain the text before we can apply the text. This means that the traditional idea of taking the final few minutes to offer some applications makes sense. However …
2. There is a flaw in the traditional Application-at-the-End strategy. If people don’t feel that the message is relevant to life, then they are unlikely to listen through half an hour of distant and theoretical material in order to still be listening by the time the relevancy is demonstrated.
3. Generally look to demonstrate relevance throughout the message. As a general rule, seek to demonstrate relevance throughout the message. This would include:
A. Introduction—take the opportunity to show that you are not a Bible history lecturer, but someone who is aware of real life. Show that the message will be relevant to listeners’ lives. Point out that the passage itself is relevant. Three hits before the message has even begun!
B. Message Idea—make sure the wording of your main idea is contemporary. You can support it biblically, but word it for us, today.
C. The wording of every point—word the points “us” and “we” rather than historical labels for biblical content.
D. Explanations, Proofs and Applications throughout—traditionally called “illustrations,” make good use of contemporary experience and applicational description rather than offering lots of historical (and therefore distant) anecdotes and quotes.
E. Transitions—between each point, you can offer a glimpse of the relevance of the message again.
F. Conclusion—see point #1, above.
4. Recognize that there are exceptions to #3. If you are telling a biblical story with tension, then you probably don’t want to break that tension for an overt contemporary illustration. Know that the story will grip people if told well. And know that little asides can keep listeners subconsciously aware of the relevance of the message even as you tell the story. (For instance, a passing comment that the woman who found her lost coin texted her friends to invite them to celebrate with her won’t break the story, but will show you aren’t stuck in another world.)
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