The Name They’re Here to Hear

This evening, my wife will graduate with her Ph.D, making official what everyone has suspected for a long time–she’s smarter than I am. All of our family coming into town are so excited to get to share this special day with her, but we must admit to one simple frustration:

There are 300 other people graduating with their Ph.D tonight…

We will be forced to sit through an hours long ceremony with the University tooting its own horn, the new University president giving the commencement address, and the reading of 300 names we don’t really care about. Now, I graduated from the same institution, and I love it dearly – Go Gators! But I there to hear one name being read, and that will be the most important moment of the whole night.

The same thing can happen in a worship service–especially during the sermon. People will politely sit through a bunch of talking about important things, and they might even pay attention. However, the thing that will grab them, the thing that they will remember, and the thing that they are ultimately there to hear is their name.

Of course, I don’t mean they want to literally hear their own name, but they do want to find themselves in your message. When you can directly connect the core message to what they are going through, where they are in life, or how they view themselves, they are much more likely to remember it. This is perhaps just another way of saying that we must know and understand our people. We can fill our sermons with lots of stories and illustrations about real people, great deeds, and honest humanity, but if it doesn’t connect with who they are, it will float past like all the other names tonight.

Header image by Flickr user John Walker. Used under Creative Commons License. Cropped from Original.

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