Don’t Bore Us. Skip to the Chorus.

My wife Ellie made a record in the summer of 2007. She got to work with one of our favorite musicians, Andrew Osenga. Before actually showing up at Sputnik Sound and hitting record, we came to Andrew’s home for what they call pre-production. Ellie and I played through the batch of songs we had written for the record. Andrew played along. And then he brought out Ockham’s Razor.

He had reluctantly made his peace with the number one songwriting rule: Don’t bore us; skip to the chorus.

So we slashed our songs by up to 40% in some instances. We cut our intros in half. And we threw away a solid 1/4 of our lyrics—especially the ones that stood between 0:00 and the chorus. Like with this one.

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The worst thing is a boring preacher.

Be faithful to your text. Work hard to identify the grace of Christ in the text. Reckon soberly with the challenge the text issues. Bring the grace and challenge of the passage to bear on the present lives of the people in concrete ways. Yes, do all of this.

But please, please work hard to find the hook. Search high and low. Be provocative. Be outlandish. Be cutesy. Raise a thorny question. Propose an unsolvable problem. Expose the weirdness and otherworldliness of the text. Find a motif. An overture. A chorus.

Get there quick. And come back there frequently, even while your preaching moves along toward its climax and resolution.

Don’t bore us. Skip to the chorus.

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8 thoughts on “Don’t Bore Us. Skip to the Chorus.

  1. Good post. A very important word in there is FIND. Find the “hook,” what the text of Scripture has to say. Too many preachers today are being provocative, outlandish, and cutesy (which, honestly, I cringed at the last two), but READING INTO the text a lesson they want to tell their people. These prove themselves to be hirelings at best, and often wolves.
    So yes, by all means, be faithful to the Scripture and find what is there — knowing that “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture” (WCF 1.7) and realizing that ” All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all” (WCF 1.7).

    • Mark ,

      Thanks for the comment. What I mean by “hook” is the packaging—packaging that’s befitting the key thing in the passage. Packaging that presents it in a way that highlights or facilitates the awesomeness of the thing packaged.

      I’d take one cutely packaged piece of textually-faithful awesome over an illegible, unintelligible, and/or boring spewing of theological truths, no matter how Biblical.

      And thus, the “hook” isn’t necessarily found IN the text. The hook makes sure that the main thing in the text sticks to us.

  2. Granted — in that case, the hook to exegete and apply what is there — not a hook to pull in what is not (eisegete — or the term used by Chris Rosebrough for the practice of some who read themselves into the narrative: narcigete).

      • Hey Andy,

        It’s my pleasure to share good stuff. I’ve been enjoying your blog for the past few weeks. I’m currently serving as Assistant Pastor at a church in Santa Fe, NM and am transitioning into a season of either church planting or senior pastoring. Thanks too for following my blog. I hope to stay connected and hopefully reach out to when my future ministry direction becomes a bit more clear. Keep up the good work!

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