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Posted September 20, 2015

Book: Rebuilding Your Message: Practical Tools to Strengthen Your Preaching and Teaching
Authors: Michael White and Tom Corcoran
Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN. 2015. Pp. 213

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

A parish doesn't just communicate its mission from the pulpit. Teaching and preaching also happen in classes and small groups, in bulletins, on the church website and social media, and trough volunteers who welcome visitors through its doors.

In Rebuilding Your Message, Michael White and Tom Corcoran, award-winning authors of the bestselling books Rebuild and Tools for Rebuilding, share dozens of strategies to help priests, staff, volunteers, and parishioners establish and sustain excellent communication in Catholic parishes in order to better proclaim the irresistible and life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ at every level.

An Excerpt from the Book:

It Needs to be Worthy of Mystery

They are to make a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell in their midst. Exodus 25:8

The celebration of the Eucharist requires only a few simple things: first, the primary elements of bread and wine. Then there are the altar, the ambo to enthrone God's Word, and a place for the assembly. Add to these the chair of the priest celebrant, a cross, chalice, and paten, and that's about it.

The sanctuary is the center of the weekend experience and the focal point of all of our communication efforts. And, at the same time, it forms a sacred space that aims at being a sign and symbol of heavenly realities. That said, it needs to be worthy of the mystery presented there. That means every element is important and has significance. In turn, that probably means less is going to be more effective and more successful.

We understand many churches are designed and built in historic and elaborate styles with important iconography and rich statuary, all of which must be respected and carefully maintained. But what about
  • Chairs that are only needed for weddings or funerals left on the altar as permanent accessories?

  • Tired or even dead flower arrangements or decorations left from seasons long over?

  • Banners that are simply old and outdated or altar cloths and linens that are worn, or worse, dirty?

  • The choir or music space and all that stuff musicians have (if it is adjacent to your sanctuary)?

  • Mikes, speakers, and all the attendant wires?
As God reveals himself to Moses and the Israelites, they learn, among other things, that he cares about the details, especially when it comes to the details of worship and worship space.

Carefully consider what your sanctuary is saying.

Is it saying "The Lord be with you"?

Is it asking, "Lift up your hearts"?

Is it announcing the mystery of faith?

Table of Contents:

Part I: About your role
1. Are you the message
2. Be yourself
3. Humble yourself
4. Check your ego at the door . . . .

Part II: About Your Context
26. Begin in prayer
27. Your campus is saying something
28. Don't sell anything in your lobby
29. Go for the low-hanging fruit
30. It needs to be worthy of mystery
31. Lighting is architecture . . . .

Part III: About Your Delivery
46. It's theater
47. Even the bad news is good
48. Presentation trumps content
49. Perfection is a path
50. Do exegesis (on your community). . . .

Part IV: About the Outcomes
67. Preach the announcements
68. One church, one message
69. Just start a conversation
70. Create tension
71. Silence creates tension
72. Hold off on answers
73. Surprise me