The next sentence – part one

We were planning a church service, several of us. We met every week, talking through how the songs and the drama and the readings could connect to the sermon and to the congregation. We looked at a video, a clip to drop into the sermon.  The video was really cool, really interesting, really entertaining. It seemed to be great to include.

And then Steve, the preacher, asked, “what’s the next sentence?”


“After that video plays, what is the next sentence, the sentence that makes it make sense?”

A great question for the two of us in particular. He is a wonderful communicator. I am a spin master.  And as we thought it through, we realized that there was no way we could move people from the video to the text. There was no connection. If the video stayed, the whole sermon would have to be changed…..including the topic.

By itself, the video was great. There were a number of settings in which it would work. But that sermon on that Sunday for that audience was not the place. It would destroy what was being built.

I wrote those three words, “the next sentence” on a scrap of paper and kept them above my desk. I realized that for every illustration, for every event, for every lesson, for everything that I know captures attention, I need to think about what comes next.

How will I follow that, how can I take that attention, that emotion, that readiness to learn on the part of the audience, and help them learn? Or will I take the mood, the readiness, the anticipation and ruin it with “Wasn’t that a great story? I knew you’d like it. Anyway, back to what we were talking about.”

For the next few posts, I’m going to talk about the next sentence.

Next up? How we completely forgot how to welcome some interested newcomers to our church.


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10 responses to “The next sentence – part one

  1. I am ready for the next sentence.

  2. This made me stop to think. It really is powerful. I am writing a white paper on influential books and haven’t been satisfied because it seems to end a bit abruptly. The next sentence, the next action is not intuitive. Thanks and looking forward to the next post. Avil

  3. Avil. The next sentence is not intuitive, it’s intentional.

    I’ll look forward to the whitepaper.

    Thank you amy. Me too.

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