Storyline is essentially an evangelistic outreach. Every Sabbath service is for the general public, not specifically for Seventh-day Adventists. If you have been asked to preach at Storyline, it is because we trust you to formulate and deliver your message while keeping this purpose in mind. Here are some specific guidelines for preaching at Storyline:
KEEP IT BIBLICAL. Preach the Bible as the premise of your message. Focus on a particular story, person or passage of the Bible.
KEEP IT CENTERED. Remember that the Bible is all about Jesus, so center your message on Him, the gospel, and the good news of God's grace. Strive to emphasize hope, forgiveness and acceptance, the beauty of the character of God, and the love of God.
REMEMBER OUR AUDIENCE. Do not speak “Christianese” or “Adventese.” In other words, avoid using in-house language and terminology unique to Christians or Adventism. Do not use language that assumes everyone you’re speaking to is an Adventist (e.g., “We as Adventists are . . .”, “As Adventists we know that . . .”, etc.). Think of speaking to the average person you might meet in the grocery store. Use reference points that they would understand.
THE PROPHET. If you quote Ellen White, quote her minimally, not as proof or authority for any point. Quote her by name as an author, not as "the Spirit of Prophecy," "the testimony of Jesus," or "the prophet of the Lord." Remember your target audience. The people whose minds and hearts you are aiming for are not Seventh-day Adventists, so Ellen White has no credibility with them.
Be mindful of the impression you are making. Preaching is not a task we believe should be taken casually or lightly. You are teaching from God’s Word and representing His church to unchurched people. What they think of God is largely dependent on their impression of you. Because of this, we ask that you think carefully not only about your presentation, but your appearance as well. Dress to make a good impression, but don’t be extravagant or immodest. Be clean and well-groomed. Shorts, miniskirts, sweatpants, jewelry or any revealing clothing should not be worn.
BE HUMBLE. C.S. Lewis once said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” Remember as you preach, the purpose is to lift up Christ, not yourself. As you develop your presentation, let everything—passages, stories, illustrations, your demeanor—be to that end. It’s not about being entertaining, showy, flashy or original. It’s about preaching Christ.
RESPECT PEOPLE’S TIME. You should aim for your message to be 30 minutes, but no more than 40 minutes. This is not a suggestion. Your message needs to be intentionally planned to be under 40 minutes. Though you want to make sure your message is well thought out, it’s better to leave people wanting more than to have them wondering, “When will this end!?” If you go too long, the next time they hear you preach, it's likely they will only be able to think about how long you took last time, not how powerful the message was.
LESS IS MORE. People’s attention spans are at a record low, so though it’s tempting to try to cram as much information as you can into a message, remember that less is more. One to three points well explained is better than seven to ten points that your audience can’t remember. Think of it as tithing your information. There will be things that you want to include that you shouldn’t.
BE PREPARED. Don’t procrastinate. Take the necessary time to pray, meditate and prepare yourself to share. Be familiar with your message so you explain it clearly and effectively.
DON’T CONTRADICT. Whenever you are speaking, remember you are representing Storyline Church. We ask that you respect the values of the platform you are preaching from by not contradicting our doctrines or core values. Familiarize yourself with what we’re about before you get up to preach.
KEEP IT REAL. Your message should be a reflection of the life you are living, not just a sermon you are preaching. The most powerful messages are not the most eloquent or professional, but the ones that come out of our own personal experiences. No matter how eloquent you are as a speaker, you won’t build anything into people’s lives if you lack authenticity.
A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS. If possible, we encourage you to use slides to more effectively communicate your message. You will be provided with a slide deck/template. Please prepare your slides within the design scheme of that template (for example, please don’t try and fit a paragraph into one slide, rather break it up into several slides). Also, there will be a confidence monitor which will display your current slide, next slide and a countdown timer.
SMILE, YOU’RE ON CAMERA. Keep in mind that your message will be audio/video recorded and could be made available on several platforms (our website, our app, our podcast, and on our YouTube channel). Even though it may feel like you’re only speaking to our local community, you have to remember that your message will have a global reach. Use this knowledge as a filter for everything you say.
BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT LIFE CHANGE. Good preaching is not just about sharing some “powerful” theological truth or giving people brain candy. Your message needs to be applicable to people’s daily lives. So be intentional about having a practical call to action/next step that you’ll ask people to take.
SELF-EVALUATE. Whatever is worth doing is worth evaluating. After you’ve preached, we encourage you to listen to your sermon and evaluate it for yourself. There’s definitely a cringe-factor for everyone when it comes to hearing their own presentation, but it’s a necessary part of growing and developing as a communicator. By observing and listening to yourself, you will quickly find ways to improve, such as eliminating filler words (“um,” “so,” “you know,” etc.), enunciating clearly, focusing on good intonation (avoiding monotone), and smoothing out awkward hand/body movements.