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U-Centered Writing: How to Capture the Attention of your Audience

Whether you are teaching a class of students or preaching to a congregation of 1,000 members, there are 5 common thoughts flowing through the minds of your audience.

1) Are you going to say something interesting today?

2) What facts, information or story will hold my attention for your entire talk?

3) So what, how does what you are saying apply to me and my situation?

4) You’re out of your mind, show me something tangible that I can grasp or see.

5) How can I be assured that if I do what you say will I will succeed?

These mental obstacles will continue to distract listeners and readers until you develop a strategy for conquering these communication barriers.  Spirits of rejection, indifference, skepticism, procrastination and fear lurk in the shadows, attempting the block your message.  However, there is hope for the battle against minds tuning you out.

According to 2 Timothy 3:16, all scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.  The author of Hebrews concurs, claiming the Bible is unlike any other book as these words are living, able to penetrate deep into an individual’s spirit and soul, Hebrews 4:12.  The apostle Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica provides evidence of this supernatural power, a blue print for educators, pastors and writers to follow.

Immediately following his Dear church comments in verse 1, Paul overcomes the spirit of rejection by thanking God publicly for the church of Thessalonica in verse 2.  If anyone was asleep or not paying attention, Paul adds another U-centered comment by expressing his continual prayers for the church and its members.  The key to being successful day in and day out is by making sure you are genuine, not fake or phoney in your compliments.

Paul quickly tackles indifference within verse 3 by praising their work done in faith, as a labor of love and the endurance displayed through their personal relationship with Jesus.  From his initial experience in Acts 17:1-9, he recognizes how difficult it is to stay committed to Christ while living in Thessalonica.  From a modern sense, Paul’s compliment is another way of saying, “that a boy or way to go!”  You must put yourself in the shoes of your audience to connect with and strike a cord with each individual.

Beginning in verse 5, Paul addresses skepticism with a painful truth, “you can’t do it alone!”  Paul wants to make sure he isn’t seen as some kind of super Christian.  Rather, Paul informs Thessalonica that the gospel came to him through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Remember, whether you or speaking, teaching or writing, they are only so many words you can say or write.  Therefore, rely on the power of the Bible to make your point, Romans 10:17, to convict the hearts of your audience and drive home your message.

The best way to conquer procrastination is to cast vision as demonstrated by Paul in verse 7.  Paul reminds each believer of the ideal situation, where your faith becomes a model for others to emulate.  If you don’t practice what you preach, your respect will plummet like the stock market on Black Friday, commencing the Great Depression.  However, when you become a living example for your flock, the masses will eventually be drawn to you thinking, “I want what this person has!”

Finally, Paul eliminates any fear through his words in verses 8-10.  Positive reinforcement is used to illuminate progress Christians have already made within Thessalonica.  Paul highlights their spiritual fruit which is slowly transforming the culture of their city.  Essentially, Paul is suggesting, “look how far you have come, why would you want to return to your formal spiritual condition.”  While this may be the most powerful obstacle to overcome, with God all things are possible, Luke 1:37.  May the power of the Holy Spirit talk your preaching, teaching and writing to new heights!

by Jay Mankus

Follower of Jesus for 29 years

Writer for the past 19

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