At North Coast Training, one of our favorite pastors, teachers and communicators is Albert Tate. In addition to featuring Albert in a previous blog post, we are privileged to have him as a main session speaker for our Sticky Teams Conferences. Last month, we had Albert as a guest speaker for our monthly conference call. His candid and authentic conversation about communication is something we think every communicator should hear (or read, below). Check out the full audio at the end of this blog.
Here’s a little background on Albert Tate (if you haven’t had the opportunity to hear him before). Albert Tate has one of the largest and fastest growing churches in America and is setting the tone for gospel-centered, multi-ethnic churches everywhere. As the founder and lead pastor of Fellowship Monrovia, Albert uses his passionate teaching style to reach people of all races and ages for Jesus.
In addition to pastoring, Albert also tours the country speaking at conferences and to colleges about his desire to cultivate a community of disciples that is unleashed to live out the Gospel.
After sitting down with Albert Tate, here are a few things we gleaned from his advice on how to become a better communicator.
Q: What is the difference between being a skilled communicator or an anointed communicator?
A: “Skill is important. I never underestimate the ability to use skill and due diligence to develop a crafted message. But I think one of the best models to follow that uses skill, as well as an anointing is from Pastor HB Charles Jr.
HB Charles Jr. is the lead pastor of a multi-site, multi-ethnic church in Jacksonville, Florida and he uses a profound approach to writing his sermons.
- Think yourself empty – completely empty your mind about the text. Think and write down all the thoughts that come to mind.
- Read yourself full – read as much as you can about the text. Use commentaries, evaluate the original language, do word studies, etc.
- Write yourself clear – write with clarity the ideas that you’ve thought and read and try to put them together concisely.
- Pray yourself hot – that’s the piece that separates Christian communicators from mainstream inspirational speakers. When we talk about the power of God there is an anointing and divine enablement that comes with preaching God’s Word. When we stand on platforms and tell the greatest story, we are preaching for God’s kingdom to come to earth. You will be amazed how you can deliver a sermon of hope that reaches people because of God’s anointing.”
Q: How do you get that anointing?
A: “You must have a sense of dependency upon God and a reality that your own skills will never transform people, but God’s Word will.
So, an appropriate handling of God’s Word mixed with an authentic and venerable message from a heart that’s broken for God —those are the makings and ingredients for an anointing to flow from your life.”
Q: Does the way you prepare for a message change depending on the size of the audience?
A: “One of the greatest gifts you can develop as a communicator is the ability to read the room —the energy in a room and what’s happening with the crowd. Then you have to have the ability to say, ‘God, what do you want to hear?’ You have to weigh how important your content is with the crowd’s ability to engage in your message. Gain a reputation wherever you go as a communicator that stewards the time he’s given well. No matter the size of the room, you must have a well thought out message that meets the needs of a specific audience.’’
Q: Who do you look to for mentorship in communication?
A: “I believe one of the greatest preachers of all time and my personal mentor is Bryan Loritts from Abundant Living in the Silicon Valley. When I first saw Bryan preach I was completely irritated because he’s not much older than me but was so good…then I heard his dad preach and I understood where Bryan’s skill came from. But, Bryan spoke with such a vision and passion for God and that’s what I wanted.
For creativity, my personal favorite is Thomas Dexter Jakes. TD Jakes is the master of storytelling, he transports you from one place and puts you right in the middle of the text he’s preaching about.
And as controversial as it is and I don’t necessarily believe with his theology, but Rob Bell is a master communicator. Rob has an innate ability to powerfully transform an audience and make the message come to life.”
Q: Who is somebody outside our profession that you learn from?
A: “The person who inspires me is Oprah Winfrey. She has a unique ability to engage people. If you watch her, she pays very close attention to detail and inspires people with a message of hope. It’s amazing to me how many Gospel speakers do not bring hope to people with the message of love and compassion from God. We could learn a few things from Oprah’s approach.”
Q: What are the steps you can take to become a better communicator?
A: “It takes preaching to make a preacher. It takes doing it, to get better at it. Identify venues to practice. Whether it’s a church setting or just in front of a few friends — practice!! You’ll be amazed at how many people would love to give feedback to what was preached. Find a group of friends to practice on and allow them to give you feedback. Just keep practicing!”
Q: Same scenario: you’re an established communicator, how do you better yourself?
A: “One of the greatest gifts I’ve discovered is what I call a Sermon Text Meeting. At this meeting, we look at the message from the Sunday before and we get honest feedback on how it went. You must get people around you that will give you intentional feedback. Once you have that feedback, you have the joy of crafting a message that the community has helped to create. This will stretch you and bring up ideas you’ve never thought.”
Q: How do you handle and receive the accolades and admonishments?
A: “This is really the hardest thing for me. I would be lying if I said that I ignored all of the things people are saying, but in reality, I hear all of it. I’m genuinely grateful for both the good and the bad and I don’t dismiss the bad because I don’t want to pay attention to what the critics are saying. The key is to not carry what they’re saying around but to go through it, process it and then take it to Jesus. All the time, I remember to thank Jesus, because His faithfulness is why I have homeruns and misses. Remember, don’t dismiss the voices around you but make sure that those voices don’t get louder than our Heavenly Father which is where your ultimate approval and identity come from.”
Q: Was there a heart shift or tipping point for you?
A: “For me, it was when I heard my mentor Brian Lorritz speak for the first time. He was so prolific but powerful, educated but not boring. And I’ll never forget sitting and hearing him preach for the first time, 18 years ago, and I thought, ‘Lord I want to do that.’ I think that was the moment of inspiration for me and I could really see myself preaching with the same excellence as Bryan.”
Q: How did you keep from becoming Bryan?
A: “In your own development, there needs to be a sense of identification. Like with babies they learn to walk because they see their parents walk. So, if you saw me preach and Bryan preach you would see some similarities. But, just like with children, as you continue to communicate and develop your skills you start to carve out your own voice and personality. There is nothing wrong with imitation as long as you don’t stay there. There is a healthy season for the role of imitation in the evolution and development of your communication style. But the goal is for you to find your voice and for you to authentically stand before God with all the gifts He’s allotted to you. You say, ‘Lord, breathe in to me my uniqueness!’”
Q: What other resource have helped you to hone your craft?
A: “Timothy Keller from Redeemer Church wrote a book called the Prodigal God. This book helps me articulate the Gospel in a profound and compelling way. As a communicator, I’m always looking to see how I can say something in a better way and this book has changed my preaching and has helped me understand how to preach to the heart.”
Q: How do you communicate in our current culture with relevance and authenticity?
A: “We live in a time, when preaching and scripture is a secondary source and what matters most is how we feel. We need to enter in to this space with compassion and love—what Jesus did. The love of Jesus Christ is the most important message and we must communicate with the fullness of grace and truth to give hope and encouragement for today’s culture. Let’s be more concerned with their heart and God will get their hands. The fullness of truth will come.
Want more of Albert Tate? Then register today for Sticky Teams in Lancaster, PA, April 18-19 or Charlotte, NC, May 2-3. Albert brings his message of hope and encouragement to this 2-day ministry leadership conference. Register here!
Listen to the full interview below: