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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Simplicity Test

I was rearranging the church after youth group, as I listened to Way of the Master Radio. Todd was speaking to Mark Dever, Pastor of Capital Hill Baptist Church and founder of 9 Marks Ministries. Mark mentioned that he interviews people before they can become members of Capital Hill Baptist. In the interview, they must present the gospel in 60 seconds or less!

Take a moment to do the test. Stop now and check a clock. Start presenting the gospel and time yourself.

Really, don't read on 'til you try it.

(I'm not kidding, try it.)

Dever said that many people "present the gospel" but forget to mention the cross or repentance. How about the resurrection, did you remember it?

Why does this matter? In my preaching training at the speaking ministry I used to work for, I wasn't allowed to preach a message unless I could summerize the theme in two sentances or less. At first, I thought that was the silliest standard I'd ever heard. But then I noticed the correlation. Those messages that I could summerize in two sentances or less were always the messages that were clearest.

Too often we bog down the gospel presentation. The message of justification (how we get saved) is not fuzzy. The message of sanctification (how we become more like Christ) is more complicated and messy (due to our sinfulness). Many times we confuse the two in our presentation and muddy the message up with secondary issues.

If you failed the test, try again. If you fail again, try another time. If you still can't get it, contact your pastor or a believer you respect and have them help you filter down the message to the essentials. It is a message that can be presented in less than a minute.

Not so that you can save time by presenting the gospel in less than sixty seconds to a friend, but so that when you sit down to talk for an hour, the gospel message comes through clearly.

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