Friday, July 12, 2013

Hinges in kids' talks

A couple of posts down, I talked about 'hinges' being a weakness in many kids talks.

Commenter Adam wanted to know what I meant by hinges and asked for some examples. So here we go.


Whenever you turn a corner, there's a chance that others won't turn with you. Those trying to follow can lose sight of where you're going and head off in another direction altogether. In order to take people around the bend with you, you need to guide them around it. Plan for it, signal it in such a way that they feel that the turn is the most natural route to take. In fact, you should make it so smooth that people don't even recognise it as a turn at all. It's just the way that the road goes.

Every piece of communication has corners. You move from the introduction to your first point. You are talking about x and then you start going in a different direction, talking about y. You move from your main points to a summary section wrapping it all up. In order to take your listeners with you around these corners, you need to make it smooth for them. Take them by the hand. Guide them. Don't give them the chance to get lost.

I call 'hinges' the words and sentences that we use to link one idea to another and show listeners the way around the corners. The better thought out your hinges are, the smoother your transitions will be.

As I said the other day, hinges are a real weakness in many kids talks (and sermons). Kids get lost because the person up front was talking about an apple, but now they are  suddenly talking about Jesus. The hinge between 'apple' and 'Jesus' wasn't apparent.

Here's last Sunday's kid's talk. Being what it was (a talk concept that was really quite abstract - the wise man built his house upon the rock - 'We were talking about building houses and now we're suddenly talking about Jesus!?!') it had the potential to have really awkward hinges. I tried to oil then by talking about good decisions right from the start. It was still a bit jerky at the end, bringing listening to Jesus in, but I made it work okay. (I changed the text colour so you can see all the words that helped the hinge work.)

I did this talk on Saul and David a few years back (just searched my blog for 'kids talks'!) I think it was part 3 in a series.

Sometimes we want to be the big guy. The one who is strong and impressive. The leader of the pack. The one who would never get laughed at or teased. The one who tells everyone else what to do. 
Saul was the big guy. He stood a head taller than anyone else. He was strong. He was handsome and he was... a very bad king for God's people.
The trouble with being the big guy is that it can make you think that you don't need God. You think that you are big enough to win battles by yourself. You think that you are big enough to make up the rules. And you get a bit too big for your boots.
Which is what happened with Saul. Big King Saul thought that he didn't need to wait for God's prophet. He thought that he could offer sacrifices to God himself. But did God like that? No. [THIS WAS WHAT WE HAD SEEN IN THE PREVIOUS WEEK'S TALK]
God rejected big King Saul and was looking for a new king. Someone who was... smaller.
God told Samuel to go to the town of Bethlehem and find a man called Jesse. One of Jesse's sons was going to be the new king of God's people. But which one?

Samuel looked at Jesse's oldest boy. His name was Eliab. Samuel liked the look of him. He was big and handsome. Samuel said to himself “Surely this Eliab is the one!”
 But God said no. “Don't take any notice of what he looks like or how tall he is, because I have rejected him. God doesn't see like people see. God looks inside. He know what we're really like.”
Hm. Which one then. How about Aminadab?
No. Not him either.

No. God didn't chose him.
Samuel looked at seven of Jesse's sons but God said no to all of them. “The Lord hasn't chosen any of these,” he said to Jesse. “Are there any more? Are these all of your children?”
“There's one other,” Jesse said. “But he's just a boy. He's little and he's out looking after the sheep.”
“Go and get him.” said Samuel. So Jesse sent someone to get his youngest, smallest son.

David came in from the field. Samuel looked at him and said, “this is the one.”
Often we want to be the big guy. But God's not interested in big guys. Big guys (like King Saul) can think they are so big they don't need God. They can think they are too big to keep God's rules. Or to ask God for help. God chooses the little guy. Like David. Like Jesus. People who don't look strong. People who aren't too big for their boots. People who will trust God to win the battle and save them.

See the hinge between the intro and the story? See how the application part at the end didn't feel like a big shift? That's what I mean by working on your hinges. Make sense?

[Here are some others from that series. #1 and #2.]

Sermon writers... Any thoughts on hinges in sermons?

1 comment:

  1. I can't remember the term he uses for it, but someone, Bryan Chappel I think, talks about peppering your talk with the same words and phrases, to help highlight connections, the logical and thematic threads that run throughout - just as you did in your example talk. I really, really like the technique.