Wordsmithing And The One Point Sermon

Not long ago, I received an email from someone who attended Good Shepherd for a season and then had to move to another part of the country.

Anyway, part of his email said that he and his family still remember and use the phrase “forgiveness is learned, so teach it well.” It’s a phrase I used in a sermon in 2006.

In fact, it was the one point from the very first one point sermon I ever delivered.

And by including it in his email — sent several years later from over 1,000 miles away — he demonstrated the power of the one point sermon.

See, for years I gave sermons that had three or four main ideas. We included a fill-in-the-blank outline. It’s the way the majority of pastors prepare and deliver messages.

But I’ve never had someone send an email three years after the fact saying “hey, Talbot, I still remember those three points that all began with the letter P!”  Not once.

In 2006, I read Andy Stanley’s Communicating For A Change and its simple logic gripped me. So I began the often arduous process of winnowing several main ideas into the one idea that must be preached — and then crafting the best way to say it.

That sermon-from-the-email back in 2006 came from the Jacob-Esau reunion story in Genesis 33, and focused on the impact it must have had on young Joseph. Previously, I would have preached that passage and gleaned a four-step process for forgiveness. That time, I narrowed it down to one: Forgiveness is learned, so teach it well.

Here’s how this played out in our most recent series, “Creatures Of Habit.”

We began on January 8 with a message called “Force Of Habit” that landed at this bottom line: To get TO the masterpiece you have to go THROUGH the monotony.

Week 2: Spend your life REACTING and you’ll be full of regret.  Spend your time PREACTING and you’ll rise above.

Week 3, the conveyor belt message: To drop the habit, disrupt the patterns.

The fourth week, in a message called Habitude: Ask God for help when you don’t need it so it will be a habit when you do.

And then the series concluded with the fasting Call To Action:  Fasting is not for Somebody Else.  It’s for Everyone Here.

You get the idea. My prayer is that these sentences/phrases/truths will implant deeply in people’s minds, thereby shaping their lives Monday through Saturday.

Because you can remember and live one thing much better than four things.

And guess what?  The one point for the first Sunday of The Path Of Most Resistance this Sunday?  I really like it.  But I’m not giving it away til Sunday.