One thing I wish I’d known before I started to share my faith, is that it is all for an audience of one.
I remember standing up at age 16, incredibly nervous, excited, and wanting to do my best for Jesus. I delivered the message and quickly sat down. That youth service in some ways had all the feelings I still carry… where were the nerves seated? Well, I discovered that they came from reverence and awe of God, and from wanting to make sure I delivered his message to our church that day. I’m not sure how much I cared about whether the rest of the congregation liked it or not, but I knew I was doing it for Jesus and preaching his word.
Within a few years, I was in full flow and loving preaching at any opportunity (schools, streets & church events) but it had become more complicated (or so I had made it), I definitely never left out preaching Jesus and his word, but I was more conscious of so many other factors: Do people like it? Did they get something out of it? What if they don’t say anything to me at the end, does that mean they didn’t like it? Was it going to get me another opportunity? Was it the right style for me to be? So it went on. Some of these questions are ok and others are really not ok (opportunity, compliments and style). I knew in my heart I was doing it for Jesus, but the fear of man was beginning to hold a similar status as the fear of God.
Then a few years ago, it seemed to be getting more and more complicated, all the things I felt like I needed to achieve with my preaches were crowding in on me. I realised it was time to strip it all back and keep it simple; that I am preaching for an ‘Audience of One’ not an audience of so many apparent demands, criteria, or the personal preferences of others. So, I decided my preaching needs to be the following things, any message, anywhere, to anyone… I must….
- Preach JESUS – whatever message, on whatever passage, it has to be Jesus-centred and give people an opportunity to connect with him!
- Serve the vision of the ‘house’ – whether the organisation or church I represent and the place I am preaching (e.g. even on the street it would honour the council).
- Be me – not my impersonation of any other preacher, so that the person you see on ‘stage’ is just a larger-than-life version of who you meet off ‘stage’.
It’s all framed by preaching for Jesus, so yes, the nerves are always there, my reliance on Jesus is greater than ever, and the realisation is there that when you preach Jesus you can’t expect everyone to agree and get on board. When things become blurred by so many seeming expectations, or ways you need to do it, we must remember that it’s Jesus who gives us the message and Jesus who we preach for, it was him who said; “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs” (Matt 10:27).
We preach for an Audience of One!
- When was the time we most felt like we preached just for Jesus?
- What distracts us from making it about the audience of One?
- Who helps us keep it about the audience of One?
Written by Dan Randall.
Dan is the HOPE Together YxYA Director and is one the Senior Leaders and Youth & Young Adults Leader at Life Church Lancashire. He is passionate about seeing a younger generation rise up to live fearlessly for Jesus. He is married to Marina and he also loves music, Burnley FC and coffee.