I have been listening to Chip and Dan Heath’s audio book Made to Stick: why some Ideas Survive and Others Die. It has been a fantastic experience. The Heath brothers say that most ideas don’t hang around or stick because the person delivering the ideas hasn’t thought about how to make them stick. As someone who wants his own preaching to improve all the time this got me thinking about how I can make my sermons “stickier”
According to the Heath brothers sticky ideas have 6 attributes:
1. Sticky ideas are simple. This doesn’t mean that you can’t go deep. A good idea may be profound but it is simply communicated so that everyone can understand it. To make our ideas or sermons sticky the question we have to ask is “What is the core of the message that I am trying to deliver?” Once we have that we ruthlessly cut out the chaff so that people get the idea and only the idea.
2. Sticky ideas have an unexpected twist to them. We are wired to pay more attention to things that are out of the ordinary and so sticky ideas will make us do a mental double take. How can I make this Sunday’s sermon have an unexpected twist in it? Can I say old truths in a new which will make people sit up and take notice?
3. Sticky ideas are concrete. Something becomes concrete when it can be described or detected by the human senses. A V-8 engine is concrete; “high-performance” is abstract. Concrete ideas are easy to remember. Experiments have shown that people remember concrete over abstract nouns: “bicycle” over “justice” or “personality.”
4. Sticky ideas are credible. They are not easily dismissed as being stupid. This is hard for preachers because our message is foolishness to a perishing world (1 Corinthians 1:18). But is there a way we can preach that shows how relevant and true the gospel is?
5. Sticky ideas are emotional. That means that sticky ideas convey or cause an emotion to be felt. How do we do this with our preaching?
6. Sticky ideas have a story component to them. That is there is within a sticky idea a mini narrative or the idea is wrapped in a story. Stories communicate more than hard facts or intellectual ideas in most cases.
How can we use these six principles to make your sermons “stickier”?