Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Getting Your Questions Answered

I just remembered that I never answered Cynthia’s question from before Thanksgiving.  Sorry, Cynthia!

Cynthia asked, “When leading a 3 session weekend retreat do you craft a sticky message for each session or do you have 1 for the entire weekend?”  (This question is in response to “Simple”.)

Cynthia, I do both.  Usually I teach retreat sessions from one extended passage of scripture rather than topically.  For example, I have a retreat that I teach from Colossians 3:1-17.  In 3-4 sessions I work through the passage highlighting a theme or “sticky statement” for in each session.  The over-arching theme is that God is the master of life-makeovers, but I have a “sticky statement” for each individual message that is the emphasis for that particular message.

Thank you for asking and letting me clarify!

Cynthia’s question leads to me explain a new policy that Karen and I have for the blog.  It is our absolute joy and honor to share with you every week, and our hearts beat to join with you in growing God’s Kingdom and His fame.  As the ministry grows, however, we’re realizing our limits.  Because of our family and ministry commitments, we aren’t able to answer your questions personally by email.

We do want to answer your questions, though.  Please either leave them as a comment, email them to me, or send them via the Request Information tab.  We will put them on a list to answer on the blog for the benefit of all the readers as well as giving a shout-out to you.  We really do treasure you and your questions!  Thank you for extending us grace and allowing us to make dinner for our families.  :)

Karen also had a great idea that we’re planning to implement late-winter.  We will be starting to have  Q & A conference calls to answer your questions live, so watch for details some time in the new year.  We look forward to hearing some of your voices.

Blessings to you!


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Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Speaker Hearts

There are so many things that make my speaker heart happy.  I’m thankful for many, many things, but here are just a few…

  • God’s Word which is a limitless source of Truth for my personal life and my messages.
  • The Holy Spirit who empowers me to be more than my own limits permit.
  • Event coordinators who think of all the details (or don’t sweat them!).
  • Audiences who come with hearts prepared to hear.
  • Audiences who come unprepared but respond to God’s Word like flowers to sunshine.
  • Time in the car alone to think on the way to events.
  • Our amazing Next Step Speaker Services clients who inspire us every single day!

Your turn!  What makes your speaker heart beat with gratitude?


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Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Our church’s precious pastor of 27 years just retired, and the search is on for a new shepherd.  I have the privilege of being on our pastor search committee, so I’m listening to sermon after sermon.  Most are wonderful but some are missing a key component–focus.

This is a blog post that was done at the beginning of our site, but I was reminded as I listen how important it is to start with a single focus.  I hope you find this helps as you write your Christmas messages!

Principle 1–Simple  (From Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath)

Sticky ideas are simple ideas.  Here’s how the Heath brothers define simple:

“…sound bites are not the ideal.  Proverbs are the ideal.  We must create ideas that are both simple and profound.”

They cite the Golden Rule as the perfect example of a simple, sticky idea.  It’s easy to remember, but it could take an entire lifetime to actually live it out.

This idea of keeping our messages simple ties right into Stanley’s book.  After studying scripture, researching commentaries and filling pages of notebooks with facts, ideas and inspiration, we need to ask God, “What is the one thing that you want my listeners to remember?  What one life-changing thing do You want them to know?”  These questions help us to find The One Thing that God wants us to communicate to our audience.

How many times have you walked away from hearing a speaker thinking “That was great!”?  How many times could you still remember the point of the message a week later?  a month later?  Six months later?  That’s the problem with messages that have many points.  They may seem wonderful to listen to, but are they life-changing for the listener?  I believe that a one-point message can be engaging and challenging as well as life-transforming.

I’ll give you an example.  At She Speaks this year, Lysa TerKeurst gave the Friday night message.  I can still tell you the point of the message from 2 months ago.  “Your reactions determine your reach.”  It was a sticky message that is still messing with my life.  Not only do I remember the main point, but I remember the scripture Lysa used and many of the stories, because they were all wrapped around that one point.

So try it.  It’s a really simple but not easy way to construct a message.  Anybody who makes it looks easy has really spent hours working on a short, simple, memorable proverb.  See what you can do with focusing your messages on one compelling point.


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Monday, November 7, 2011

What’s On Your List?

I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone, and it’s not just my jet-lagged brain.  It was the trip through some stores today where Christmas music played in the background, and my eyes were filled with every shade of red and green.

I’m kind of a purist.  There is a running disagreement of 21 years at my house about the time the Christmas tree goes up.  My philosophy is one holiday at a time.  It’s not so much a matter of principle for me but rather a grasp at sanity. I’m a linear thinking, one-thing-at-a-time kind of girl.  Anybody else?

I am now thinking toward Christmas, though. Ready or not, here it comes!  (If you’re struggling like me to get into gear, don’t miss Karen’s new ebook that she’s written with LeAnn Rice called Untangling Christmas.  Fabulous!)

My mom is ahead of the game and has asked for sizes and wish-lists.  I have lists of wishes all through the year, but when asked, I usually draw a blank.  Maybe you’ve got the same problem or you’d like to receive something “just your size” this year rather than the bulky sweaters or clingy dresses sometimes found beneath the beautiful wrapping on the box with your name on it.

How about a gift certificate from Next Step Speaker Services?

It’s hint-dropping time so when your mom or hubby asks, be prepared!  They can contact me at , and I’ll get them all set up with a gift certificate.  Imagine your delight when your stocking is filled this year with a gift that really becomes a gift to others as you share the message of Jesus.


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