Preaching and the Zombie Apocalypse

Animated-Zombie-ReverseLifehacker just ran a great article — “Craft a Better Presentation with Zombie Apocalypse Principles.” It’s a zombie-themed advice column on making your presentations better. While they wrote for a more general audience, I thought my preaching friends might enjoy the article, too.

Here were the tips they suggested:

Know your endgame. Indecision and meandering get people killed in zombie movies. They kill audiences with boredom and irrelevancy, too!

Be Clear and Kill the Vague. Again–anything “extra” is just dead weight that distracts from the main idea. If it doesn’t serve a purpose, lose it.

Be Ready for Emergencies. They’re talking tech, here. Know what you’ll do if your PowerPoint crashes. Have a backup plan to minimize that risk. Do you have your own dry erase markers? The ones that the venue might be dried out. Plan ahead.

Create Community. They quote Walking Dead: “Stray from the pack, you become a snack.” In a presentation, you want everyone with you, going the same place. Plan the “next steps” after the talk that will allow people to immediately act on what you’ve taught.

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These are great suggestions for preaching, too. I’d like to chip in a few of my own.

Be Bold. Fortune favors the bold, right? Don’t be afraid to speak strongly and passionately. Leaders lead! The sermon might not always be for everyone–but it will be clear.

Go for Bodies and Brains. Zombies are bodies hungry for brains, right? I like to divide a person into three parts (no, not literally!) — head, hands, and heart. The head is intellect. Preaching should speak intellectually. The hands symbolize action. Good preaching should call towards godly action. The heart symbolizes our feelings. A sermon that tells you what to do and how to do it, but that fails to answer the “why” with a motivation will fail. It’s a brain without a body. Make sure to hit the whole person.

Urgency. The great thing about zombie movies is the sense of urgency. If the characters don’t find water, they will die. If they don’t build this barricade, they will die. The movies are filled with urgency. Good preaching should be urgent, too. If it is important, treat it like it’s important. If it’s not important, why are you wasting my time by saying it?

I should probably leave this one alone — but sometimes you feel like you’re standing before a room full of people that want to eat you. Other times, you might feel like it’s just a brainless horde! But whatever crowd you’re in, these tips will help sharpen your presentations.

What to do with opinions?

opinion“That’s my opinion, and it ought to be yours!”

That’s how radio character Makk Truck would sign off his daily comedy bit on WSIX on the House Foundation each day. It was a funny way to end a goofy rant on the radio, but in reality, it’s how most of us feel. After all, if I believe something, I believe it to be correct—so you should, too.

Dealing with opinions can be really tough. The “letters to the editor” page in the paper is proof enough of the diversity of opinions, and we know that they aren’t all equally valid. We always argue more about what the Bible doesn’t say (or what it might imply) than what it actually says. My friend Wes McAdams shared three suggestions for what we do with our opinions. I’ve tweaked them a bit for our purposes…

FIRST: Don’t be argumentative about them. That’s what Romans 14:1 says: “don’t quarrel over opinions.” There are some things worth fighting for; opinions aren’t one of those things. (By the way—an argumentative spirit seldom wins anyone!)

SECOND: Keep them to yourself. Proverbs 18:2 is great: “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” You don’t have to share everything you know. Paul said that knowledge can puff up while love builds up. Sometimes the best thing to do is do nothing at all.

THIRD: Use your opinions to restrain yourself, but not others. It’s not our job to judge our brothers—that’s God’s prerogative. Read the rest of Romans 14 and you’ll see that for yourself. One of our heroes in the faith, Thomas Campbell, wrote a document called Declaration and Address in 1809. While encouraging us to go back to the Bible and reject human creeds and divisions, in section #6, he warned the church to be very careful not to bind the things that are not explicitly clear in scripture on others as a test of fellowship, lest we raise our own beliefs to the status of scripture.

I wish that we all agreed on everything, everywhere—but we don’t. How we navigate the uncertainty of our opinions can make us or break us as a fellowship!