I love great communicators… I love listening to them preach and teach the Word of God. The first preacher that really stirred my soul was Dr. Tony Evans, back in 1989… I had never heard anyone communicate God’s Word with such passion, and his illustrations were simply awesome! Then, shortly after that, I heard a young, local preacher named Keith Battle… who’s style was completely different, but who was equally as effective… and as powerful… as Dr. Evans. Since then, I’ve learned from a myriad of preachers/communicators like Erwin McManus, Andy Stanley, Crawford Loritts, and Rob Bell… whose styles are vastly different, but who have equally helped stir my passion for communicating biblical truth.
That’s why I loved this book so much by Dave Stone, called Refining Your Style: Learning from Respected Communicators. It’s not a new book (published in 2004), but I’ve never come across anything else like it. It’s an easy read (227 pgs), and includes a CD that has preaching excerpts from most of the communicators he highlights in the book. Make no mistake… this is not a “how-to” book; the title is very clear on the book’s purpose – helping speakers to identify different styles of communicating, so as to help them refine their own style. Let’s face it: those of us who are biblical communicators can always stand to improve in the way we deliver our messages. What Stone does is highlight the strengths – and inherent blindspots – of each style. And he lists 13 different styles (never knew there were so many!), so the reader shouldn’t have a problem identifying where he might place him or herself on the style continuum.
I loved the creative names Stone gives the styles: Creative Storyteller, Direct Spokesperson, Scholarly Analytic, Revolutionary Leader, Engaging Humorist, Convincing Apologist, Inspiring Orator, Practical Applicator, Persuasive Motivator, Passionate Teacher, Relevant Illustrator, Cultural Prophet, and Unorthodox Artist (I think I’m a mixture of Creative Storyteller/Passionate Teacher/Engaging Humorist). Some of the communicators he highlights are Erwin McManus, Tim Keller, Lizz Curtis Higgs, Rob Bell, Max Lucado, and others.
In each chapter, Stone gives an intro to each style, an explanation of how Jesus used that style, an interview with the communicator highlighted for that particular style, and then some practical advice for the reader on refining the style to fit him or her. Throughout the book, you’ll find yourself gauging whether or not a particular style fits you… as well as labeling your staff and favorite preachers!
This is a must read for any preacher, teacher, or communicator of biblical truth! It’s one of the most practical books on preaching that I’ve ever read… enjoy!