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When we were first starting Cobblestone Community Church, I would host an occasional "speakers' breakfast," in an effort to train home-grown speaking talent for our teaching ministry. In developing the material for those informal workshops, I drew up a checklist of twenty questions that I asked each speaker to use to evaluate his or her planned message.

It remains a mental checklist (though more intuitive for me than mechanical) that I try to apply to my own speaking. Here are the twenty questions:

1. Do I grab the listener’s attention as soon as I start speaking?

2. Does the talk start where people are (with their culture, needs, problems, issues, questions)?

3. Does it come on too strong, too fast?

4. Am I teaching the listener something he didn’t already know?

5. Am I communicating what God says, not my opinions?

6. Have I included an introduction of myself and words of welcome to the listener?

7. Have I included a re-statement somewhere in the talk of either Cobblestone's mission ("loving people into life-changing encounters with God") or distinctives (community-oriented, student-friendly, seeker-aware, outward-focused)

8. Have I offered an elementary (but not condescending) explanation of the text that will help even a Bible newbie find it without feeling stupid (as well as avoidance of "church lingo" as much as possible)?

9. Have I revealed anything of myself in the talk without revealing anything inappropriate (so much the better if it’s vulnerable, self-effacing and/or winsome)?

10. Do I interact with my listeners in the talk (e.g., mentioning people’s names, asking for responses, etc.)?

11. Have I included humor?

12. Am I being realistic instead of shallow? Will my listener believe I understand what he’s really going through?

13. Have I touched (not manipulated) my listener’s emotions?

14. Is my talk focused enough (instead of rambling)?

15. Have I played a part in meeting a felt need?

16. Is the “solution” I propose realistic? Life-related? Biblical?

17. Does the structure of my talk logically lead to the conclusion/application?

18. Have I left out anything important, crucial?

19. Have I given clear application for both a seeker and a Christian that answers the question, "OK, what am I supposed to do with this information now/today/this week?”

20. Have I made reference to how my listener can find further help (e.g., prayer counselors)?

In recent years, a few things have changed (for example, instead of either mission statement or distinctives, we try to include in every message a mention of our mission statement or discipleship strategy, which is summarized by the words "seek, share, serve"). But overall, the questions still serve pretty well.
 
So what questions would you add or subtract? Or revise?

Bob Hostetler is a writer, editor and speaker from southeastern Ohio. His 30 books, which include Quit Going to Church and the novel The Bone Box, have sold over three million copies. He has coauthored a dozen books with Josh McDowell. Bob is a frequent speaker at churches, conferences and retreats. He has been a disc jockey, pastor, magazine editor, freelance book editor and, with his wife Robin, a foster parent to 10 boys (though not all at once).

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Talk about it...

Jeff Glenn

commented on Nov 29, 2013

Great list and definitely thought-provoking questions.

Keith B

commented on Nov 29, 2013

21: Did I preach the Gospel and lift up God or myself? Those are all good...but the reason we preach is to glorify God and feed his sheep.

Ken Mettler

commented on Nov 29, 2013

This list is a 5 star list.

Rick Morris

commented on Nov 29, 2013

Keith B...See number 5, I believe it is the same thing as you suggested.

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