Since April, I’ve been a regular commuter using San Diego’s excellent public transit system. Essentially, it takes me an hour to get to work and I use this as me time. While walking, riding my bike, standing on the platform, or riding the trolley I am typically listening to music or podcasts.
My weekly repertoire includes exactly zero “Christian” podcasts. (Unless you count my own!) What I’ve found that I enjoy listening to most are shows that tell stories really, really well. The other day it hit me that some of the shows I listen to every week would actually be excellent to listen to for those who craft messages each week.
So, here’s my list of shows I’d recommend preachers listen to in order to sharpen their delivery: (add you own in the comments)
1. This American Life. I’ve joked around in saying that Ira Glass is the best preacher in America. Clearly, Ira is not a pastor– he’s Jewish. But TAL regularly tells the best stories out there. The pace, the clarity, the way that the commentators often get out of the way and allow the subject to speak. If you are serious about crafting an oral story… you need to list to this show.
2. 60 Minutes: Listen to the audio version of this show. (Available on iTunes) This show is always good on TV, but there is something about listening to it as audio only that makes it better. I love the manner in which they track a story. Almost every story uses the same pattern but it never gets old. Also, I love how they tease the stories up front to keep the listening intruiged. The worst part of the show is Andy Rooney. But just hear him as the old man who grabs your hand every week and annoys you.
3. The Moth: I love this show for two reasons. First, it’s first person stories. Second, it’s a single story per episode. These are stories told live on their mainstage in LA or New York. If you like to integrate testimony into your messages, this will help you.
4. This I Believe: More stories told in the first person. This concept has been around for decades and has captured the core beliefs about famous people, everyday people, and people in-between for that entire time. Essentially, people write an essay about something they believe to be true and then perform it in their own voice.
5. TEDtalks: If you had 18 minutes to present your life’s work, what would you say? This is the premise of TED. This is like the Willow Creek Leadership Conference for everyone else. Each week you’ll see a well-known person make the presentation of their life.
What would you add to this list?
I think evangelicals are just coming back to the concept of story. For whatever reason we’ve gotten into a habit that preaching ought to be a lecture instead of a story. But with our cultures fascination of story, many leaders are seeing that in order to preach into people’s lives they have to be a better storyteller.