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Using Repetition To Drive A Point Home

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Using Repetition To Drive A Point Home

Repetition is a powerful tool, because it can take a single message and link it to several different memories in the brain. This is why I often avoid preaching "five point sermons". I think it is more effective to teach one point, and teach that one point in five different ways, driving it home again and again.

Jesus did this in Matthew 5. He wanted to drive home the point that the Jewish establishment had "missed the point" of the Old Testament law. Six times in one chapter he said, "You have heard it said...but now I say..." Even though listeners may have forgotten the individual points (adultery, murder, divorce, vows, retribution, and love), after the constant repetition, they certainly would have walked away understanding that the old ways were no longer going to be enough!

At the end of the gospel of John, Jesus meets with Peter. "Peter, do you love me?" He asks. Peter replies in the affirmative. "Then feed my sheep." Three times Jesus questions His love, and finally, on the third repetition (matching the number of Peter's denials) Peter is grieved be the bombardment. Repetition drove home the point in a powerful way.

Repetition doesn't have to happen all at once. Recently I taught a series of messages on "the little things" in the Christian life. One week I spoke on the widow with her two coins. Two weeks were spent on Gideon with his tiny army. Then I spoke on the parable of the talents, and finally ended with a lesson on the old and new temples, and God's question "Who are you to despise the day of small things?" Each lesson is different, but the idea keeps getting driven home again and again.

This summer I spoke on I Timothy 4:12-16. It was a "typical" three-point sermon. The three points were: character, scripture, and spiritual gifts. However, in studying these verses I found a common element in each point; Paul was talking about our self-discipline.

Show yourself, give attention to, don't neglect, take pains, be absorbed, pay close attention. These phrases form the backbone of the sermon. Even if the congregation walks away forgetting the three points, the message of self-discipline has been driven home through repetition.
Lesson by Mr. Twitchell

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