The 3 AM Statement

This post from Ben Arment reminded me again why I love One Point Teaching and Preaching. In that philosophy, you teach one major point. Everything leads to or comes out from that single point. It’s the one thing you want people to walk away from your Bible study, church service, or teaching moment with, echoing in their minds.

It’s called the 3 AM Statement.

The reason it’s called the 3 AM Statment is because it’s a short, memorable phrase that summarizes what your talk is about. It’s the main idea, so much so that if someone called you at 3 AM the night before you were teaching and asked what tomorrow’s lesson was about you could quote it to them through the early-morning fog.

There’s alot of advantages to teaching this way, but here’s 2:

1. It isolates the core truth of the message. Many times, I know I walk away from a sermon with lots of great content, so much so that I struggle to remember all the things I want to. But with that statement in my mind, it helps me organize my thoughts and fix on the core of what the Lord said to me.

2. It safeguards the message. You don’t chase rabbits when you have the 3 AM statement. As a teacher or preacher, the 3 AM serves as a gate for your talk. In your study, you’re going to find a ton of information. But with every piece of information, you have to stack it up against the 3 AM. It may be really interesting that there’s 19 Greek words for “the” in this passage, but does that fact support the 3 AM? If not, you tuck it away for use at another time.

Now some people might say, “But how can you preach verse-by-verse in this manner? Surely Paul or Jesus or Moses talks about more than one point in a passage.”

My response is that it all depends on how you divide the text. These guys (Paul, Jesus, Moses) were smart. And they were really, really good communicators. They were thoughtful about their presentations, too. And they were organized. If we take time on the front end to divide the text appropriately, we get closer to the single thing they were trying to say in a sentence, paragraph, or several paragraphs.

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