Nov 19, 2013

Suggestions for Crafting Message Statements

Last week I had a brief post here on message statements for the books of the Bible. I noted that a message statement is a one-sentence summary consisting of a subject and compliment(s). In this post, I will offer a few suggestions for crafting message statements.
  1. The subject of your message statement needs to encapsulate the whole book otherwise it will better serve as a compliment.
  2. A message statement needs to cover the whole book but not every book of the Bible. Some message are so broad and generic that they are not really useful in capturing the the uniqueness of a book.
  3. Try to resist the temptation to use God as the subject. God, of course, is the presumed subject of every biblical book. However, if you make God the subject then you will likely have a problem with point 2. If you feel compelled to use God as the subject, then try and narrow it to a distinctive aspect or attribute of God that is central to the book (e.g., attributes like holiness, sovereignty, faithfulness, etc., or functions like God as judge, redeemer, warrior, etc.).
  4. Do your best to avoid a message statement that is is too historically grounded. For example, while one could argue that the subject of Lamentations is the destruction of Jerusalem, if you use that as the subject, then what is the message for all of us who are not Jewish or otherwise associated with Jerusalem? In these cases, it is better to abstract a more generic subject out of the historical subject. For Lamentations the subject might be something like "the tragic and destructive consequences of sin." Doing this will keep your message relevant to a contemporary audience. However, you will need to take care that you do not run into issues related to point 2.
  5. Understand that the Bible is inspired and inerrant but your message statements are not. Be willing to change your message statement as you gain a better appreciation of a book.
  6. Remember that you cannot improve or edit what has not been written. Do not let the fear and difficulty of composing message statements paralyze you. Simply do your best and keep point 5 in mind. 

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