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Thursday, July 05, 2012

Preach like a Rock Star

Rock stars have something to teach us preachers. It's not how to do our hair and what pants are the most stylish. Rather, it's the application of a Brain Rule - "Repeat to Remember."

Get to the chorus of nearly any pop song and you'll hear a hook that is repeated, over and over and over again. The standard formula popular songs (top 100 on the Billboard chart) repeats in four-fifths of all songs over 50 years. The same chord progression, the same tempo, the same time signature, and the same verse structure.


The chorus happens four times in an average rock song. It's the bit that gets stuck in your head. It's the thing you sing in the shower. It's the part that you hum to yourself and get stuck in someone else's head like a contagious disease.

It's what every preacher dreams will happen to their sermon. But most preachers preach forgettable, words that never last, never connect and aren't shared. It's sad, but it's the truth.

So, how can you preach like a rock star?

Distill your point. You can make one point in your sermon. Figure out what it is and craft everything you say around that one point. Throw away anything that's off topic. Get rid of it. Ruthlessly. If you're jumping around from point to point, your audience won't follow you.

Find your hook. Just like in a pop song, there's a hook to your sermon. What one phrase is catchy, repeatable and sums up your point? Work on this. Spend time hashing through options. Throw away bad hooks. If you skip this step, most of your sermons will be forgotten.

Repeat to remember. Pepper your hook throughout your sermon. Like a hook in a song, your sermon-hook will be the refrain that ties everything together. Make a point and then bring it back with your hook. Make another point and then bring it back again with the hook.

Do this artfully. You can't just stand up for thirty minutes and repeat yourself. But, if you don't have meaningful repetition, your words will evaporate almost as soon as you're done saying them.

Below is one of the better examples of this type of sermon. I wouldn't repeat the hook as much as this, but that's my style and preference. You can see, in less than four minutes, how powerful and memorable a hook can be . . . Sunday's Coming.

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