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5 Keys to Sticky Preaching

3) Never Underestimate the Power of the Sound Bite.

Sound bites are important, not for memory but for clarity. That’s because the more diverse our audience is, the greater the likelihood for a large gap between what we mean to say and what they hear. 

Good sound bites transcend different demographic distinctions. They increase the odds that what I say will be understood and remembered accurately. 

While proper exegesis, faithfulness to the text, solid biblical concepts and transitions are all crucial, without a sound bite, most of what we say will be lost. There’s just too much information flying at people today. The battle for mental shelf-space is intense. By Sunday afternoon, even the “ah-ha’s” can be lost.

So I work really hard at boiling my main points and principles down to a few sound bites. These sound bites capture the essence of what I’m teaching in a memorable way that people can take home. They help make the message stickier to more people. 

Good sound bites are principle-driven. As such, they are much more likely to transcend age, spiritual background and educational differences than simple prose or even a narrative.

Here are some examples:

—Instead of simply saying, “During times of discouragement, don’t assume you are outside of God’s will,” the sound bite might be: A valley doesn’t mean a wrong turn.

—When stressing the need to flee sexual temptation rather than trying to stand up to it, I might sum up the principle this way: We can’t resist what we’re supposed to flee.

—Rather than merely warning people to guard themselves against the little compromises that can eventually lead to a larger spiritual failure, the sound bite might be: Spiritual failure is seldom an explosion; it’s usually an erosion.

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Larry Osborne is a senior pastor at North Coast Church in Vista, California. With 20 weekly services on five campuses, North Coast is known for both its innovation and its small back door. You can learn more about the principles he shared here in his upcoming book, Sticky Church (Zondervan/October 2008) and the Sticky Church Conference. You may also visit the North Coast Training Network at www.NorthCoastChurch.com/Pastors.