How to make a good presentation Apple style

Read a great article here on presentation tips to be gleaned from Apple:

In short:

  • Keep your main message tweetable
  • Bring your data to life with visuals
  • Prepare for the unexpected
  • Plan for a wow moment

The audience goes wild when Steve Jobs announces the iPhone. “A wide screen iPod, a revolutionary phone and a breakthrough internet device….These are not three devices, they are one device”.

How much more exciting the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ: “Complete Forgiveness for sin, adoption into God’s family, and eternal life. And here is the thing: It’s not for those who are good enough or smart enough, or who work hard enough, but for those who will simple put their trust in Jesus. Its called the gospel of grace.”


Is preaching a poor teaching tool?

We are running a theology course at the moment that uses pre-recorded lectures to deliver the material and then interact with students via social media and a once a month get together for Q&A. This article encourages me that we are on the right track. It argues that live lectures are a very poor teaching tool for all sorts of reason. For example, if you miss something or do not understand something you can’t pause to think or ask questions. The solution they propose is to record the lectures and use social media.

That’s all well and groovy and I agree, but what about the Sunday preach? Should we ditch the preach along with the live lecture? Well, backing up I think there are advantages to being physically present when someone is speaking live. There is a spiritual dynamic that takes place because God’s presence is in us and with us when we meet together. Words are powerful tools for carrying truth and connecting people, but so is presence. Not sure I can quite put my finger on how that works out in practice but it does lay down the principle that physical presence matters. I’ll make a stab at a few points:

When people are together in the same place at the same time there is a shared experience that shapes the group. This is still true if we all watched a TV program at different times on catch up, but it’s less powerful. We share not just the words and pictures but the room, the welcome, the pre and post chat, the atmosphere etc.  We can talk immediately about what we have just seen. We can pray for one another and invite God’s presence. A preach style talk can also call for a corporate or individual response there and then. More is communicated by a speaker than can be picked up by a camera. Also, I find going to a conference and hearing a speaker is more memorable than watching a video. Part of that is because of the extra bandwidth you are taking in but it’s also because it’s more of an event that stands out. There is so much information available to us now that I think our brains put a higher priority on these rarer personal importations. The effectiveness of that, of course, lessens the more you attend lectures and conferences.


For delivering lots of information I think lectures are best recorded. For imparting spiritual truth to a community of people you still can’t beat live face to face physical presence. It does mean, however, that you need to work to the strengths of the setting. You will be able to communicate less information, but should be able to impart it more deeply.  You can always record the preach and post it online so  people can replay later if they want.


It’s obvious really. Being at a football match is different to watching it at home. There are strengths and weaknesses to both. It might be cold on the terrace in winter and you may be not be able to see as clearly, but boy is the atmosphere more intense and the moment more significant if you are actually there.


provocation for preaching

Here is provocation to prioritise preach preparation:

“I heard a rabbi say not long ago that Christian pastors have ruined the life  of a rabbi. Because a rabbi is a scholar and preacher. But Christian pastors are social workers and therapists and budget managers and now he says people in his synagogue expect him to do those things…preachers need to decide what the main tasks are and practice enormous self discipline about not being drawn away to do other things that do not properly belong to the ministry of word and sacrament….many preachers finally get around to their sermons in their fatigue from everything else and if imagination is the key to good preaching you cannot be imaginative if you are exhausted. It has to do with ordering ones priorities for the sake of ones best energy. For many preachers that means really deciding that this is the main task and if you want a congregation to have missional energy and all of that and preaching is the pivot point of all of it. If a pastor decides that then the pastor is going to make more time for reading and prayer… ”


No none is obligated to preach a great sermon. But everyone is obligated to grapple with great ideas. If we do that then once in a while we might preach great sermons…preaching carries with it a divine obligation for preparation inclusive of mind, heat spirit environment, struggle, sacrifice, service…


Piper learned to preach:

1) by watching his dad

2) by watching how not to do it

3) Being unable to speak in front of a group for many years through pain, discouragement and hurt.

4) “The courses I took on preaching were marginally [helpful]”. He got low grades in seminary.

5) By being passionately thrilled about what he read in the bible and feeling “I want to say this to somebody… I find it hard to leave the bible and find an illustration because everything here is just blowing me away! And it’s that sense of being blown away by what’s here, by the God that’s here, the Christ that’s here, the gospel that’s here, the Spirit that’s here, the life that’s here, being blown away by this, that’s got to get out….then how it gets out…that’s just the way I am wired…”.  

6) “a thousand things go into your life. nobody can copy anybody else. “

7) “I don’t think there is much you can do to be preacher except  know your bible and be unbelievably excited about what’s there and love people a lot and want to make the connection with people.”



Haddon Robinson

“a good sermon in oriented to scriptures and oriented to people in the pew.”

A great preacher:

Start at the beginning – (Poets/prophets/preachers Part 2)

Rob Bell is a popular but controversial Pastor. He is part of what’s called “the emerging church”, a feature of which is questioning the way church has traditionally been done. One of things it questions is the preach; “a monolog of one person telling a lot of other people what to think.” Some argue that people don’t process information like that anymore. They need to discus and argue and engage with truth. Truth is digested in a “conversation” not a presentation. It is a testimony to the diversity of thought in the emerging church that Rob Bell seems here to be arguing quite the opposite. At any rate it is not the monologue he wants to change (these seminars are basically him talking for 5 hours), it’s the content and style. Here are some rough notes on telling a story from the beginning to the end.

Start from Shalom rather than sin:

We need to start telling the story at the beginning. When we give a sermon are we starting in Genesis 1 or Genesis 3.

If we starts from Genesis 3 then the issue is the removal of sin. If it’s in Genesis 1 it’s in the restoration of shalom/peace. Sin then takes its place within the larger story.”

“Don’t cold call with sin ie ‘lets talk about you, you are an abomination!’…They will respond ‘I don’t need once a week to be told how terrible I am’.”

Begin in Genesis 1 when everything was very good and shalom. Then people will see their part how it got messed up. If you start with “sin” then people just go “what? What are you talking about?

The end of the story is like the beginning:

It’s about heaven and earth coming together. I get concerned that some people will be on the way up as God is on the way down and they will pass in the air

(ie God is coming down to dwell here, rather than us going up to be with him -lets not be too busy trying to get up there to heaven, the deal is heave  coming down hear to earth).

“when we preach the resurrection there is the belief that something big is going down and it is happening right in the midst of the old creation”.

Rob bell makes the point that Shalom in Genesis 1 and 2 is several elements of peace. Its peace with God, peace with other people, peace with the earth, and peace with yourself. I think I have heard that before buts it a helpful reminder.

“The story is anticipating the coming day when heaven and earth are one again.”

He mentions the “triple bottom line” of People, Planet and Profit. It brings a consideration of  how your business effects people, the environment and it’s place in the vital and necessary task of helping organize/manage/steward creation.

We must not tell people how to escape the “soil” to get to a “spiritual place” or the business woman will think she is not in the game. She will think she is making money to give to people who are in the game but we are all involved in extending the kingdom in all we do. Making money is part of redistributing resources.

He made a couple of other intersting statments that I will note here:

“Mary doesn’t recognise Jesus and thinks he is the gardener!”

“heaven is where God is storing the earth’s future.”

I really liked this last section as it highlights the current nearness and touch-ability of the future unity of heaven and earth. It reminds me of the whole Bill Johnson emphasis of seeing the kingdom of God come now on earth as it is in heaven. It also means that what we are doing now can last. 1 Cor 3:14,15 talks about a mans work being tested by fire. Depending on how its built it might be “burnt up” or it might “survive“. It’s much more motivating doing something that will last. I am reminded of the old chorus: “I want to give my life, for something that will last forever”.

A lost art form – (Poets/prophets/preachers Part 1)

Rob Bell

I really enjoyed watching Rob bell’s “Everything is spiritual”, not simply because of what he said but more because of the way he said it. He is a great communicator. That’s why I am really enjoying his “Poets/prophets/preachers” seminars where he looks to inspire and equip people in the lost art of preaching.

I won’t post detailed notes (he talks for five hours!), just a few highlights.


The sermon is “its a brilliant primal art form”

“As the world gets more twitterised I believe that what’s going to happen more and more it actually people gather in an actual room which an actual person who has actual flesh and blood who is actually talking in real time, about things that actually matters and people actually hearing it and saying I was there and it did something.” Rob Bell

Wong responses to a sermon

  • For some people their posture to a sermon is whether they “liked” it or not.
  • Sometimes people say about a sermon “she did a good job“, to which his response is “yeh but how did you do, because the point was to listen and then do something with it

What if after Martin Luther King’s dream speech people responded “it was a bit long and I’ve heard some of those stories before”.

What people want from a sermon

“Be vulnerable and honest and personal but not too personal because this isn’t a therapy session and we need lots of bible but not too much because it has to relate to what’s happening in our lives and in the world today but it can’t be political and it has to be challenging and deep and significant and at the same time easy for everybody to understand and it has to be funny but not too funny because you’re not a comedian you’re a pastor and while you’re at it mix it up and try new things and don’t get it in a rut but make sure to be consistent and talk about your own struggles, but not too much because that’s depressing. And we love stories about your family. But not too many. That can be weird. Just be vulnerable and honest and…”

A sermon can be:

  • Gorilla theater to wake people up and get them to think. Leave the thinking.
  • A wake up call “your better than this”
  • A sub-version “there is another better story going on here, its not how it looks”
  • A warning “you’ve lost the plot” (my example)
  • An invitation
  • A Witness

“sometimes a sermon is straight up witness. If you don’t share it, speak it, tell it, point to it, express it, preach it, you’ll spontaneously combust.” You have witnessed something and you just have to share it. Jeremiah 20 “his word is in my heart like a fire shut up in my bones I am weary of holding it in, indeed I cannot”