A few days ago, I posted an article about Rob Bell's communication style. I have seen the Nooma videos and heard his messages online, but Friday was the first time hearing him live. I have to say that I was blown away. What a communicator!
He is living proof that there is no such thing as an "attention span" only boring speakers. He spoke for over an hour and a half, and nobody got up or moved.
Here are some things I noticed about his communication style:
1. Powerful use of story. Rob started with story, carried it with story, and ended it with story. When I put sermons together, I try to think of them like acts of a play. Rob's sermon flowed seamlessly from section to section. There were no clunky "transition statements." It was a story.
2. Good use of space. Rob's movement around the stage was intentional. It wasn't pacing. It was movement for movement's sake. He stood in one spot as he spoke about one character and that character's viewpoint, and then moved to another space to talk about another character and that character's viewpoint, and then back again. The movement and use of the stage were as much part of the message as the words he spoke.
He also had a large stage prop altar on the stage. It fit his message theme, and he used it throughout.
3. No judgment of alternate ideas, holds the Gospel as true. That may sound strange to say, but let me try to explain. He told the story of the development of religion. Some might argue that his description of the development was not "biblical." Some might not like the ideas he presented that were part of the other religious system. He presented those ideas, but did not feel the need to say "These ideas are wrong." He simply presented them, and then present the Gospel/Bible story as the legitimate story. Many speakers feel the need to explicitly say, "These ideas are wrong." He didn't do that.
4. Appropriate use of humor. Rob didn't tell jokes per se. He made little quips and quick witty hits that were humorous but did not distract from the message. He was funny without making his humor the point of the message. It broke the tension in the appropriate places and gave the audience a chance to breath and relax.
I have to say that I have never heard a better communicator in my life! I certainly understand why people can sit and listen to him for long periods of time. He is truly gifted. I may not agree with everything he says (or didn't explain). I would need to hear him out further. As I semi-jokingly said, "I guess you can explain everything in one hour and a half sermon!" No matter what you think of his theology...you will not find a better communicator.
If you would like to download some of Rob Bell's sermons you can go here.