Malcolm Tyree

A collection of thoughts on things that matter

Archive for the category “Public Speaking”

To See More Clearly, Know More Dearly, Feel More Nearly

In 1997, I moved from Clarksville, Tennessee, to attend Mid-America Bible College (now Christian University) in Oklahoma City. As a new student I was required to take a class called Biblical Life & Witness taught by Cliff Sanders.

I had come to MBC like most 21 year olds, arrogantly. I had been involved in ministry for about 30 months or so and thought I knew all I needed to know. After all, I had experienced a successful ministry and my pastor was sending me to college to get the necessary degree so that I could get a job at a church. Little did I know, how little I knew.

Bib Life (as we called it) challenged my view of God. The class provoked me to ask myself if I really knew the character of God and if I allowed him to know me. And Cliff’s teachings inspired me to live a life of evoking the imagination of others as they think about God.

This video message is a summation of Bib Life. I still have my notebook from the course, though I really don’t need to look at it. The course set me on course in such a way that I can recall much of it without even looking.

Cliff’s prayer at the end of this message is one you should stick around for, as is the entire message something that can move you in the right direction.

I realize one message won’t change your life. I was fortunate (ahem) to have Cliff as my professor for seven courses while at MBC. The messages were only part of my journey down a better path. Witnessing Cliff’s life for nearly five years was another significant part. So, don’t just listen to this message by Cliff. Connect with those who will challenge you to know God more deeply, see him more clearly, and feel him more nearly. Spend time with these people. Share life with them. Together, you will inspire others to imagine God as he wants us to see him.

The Jesus-Shaped Life – Sanctuary on Vimeo on Vimeo

via The Jesus-Shaped Life – Sanctuary on Vimeo.

a New role in Life’s journey, teaching Bible with a new Fellowship

Many of you have been curious as to what’s next for me and the family and our role in ministry. Here it is: IMG_0978 Earlier in July, we moved from Odessa, Texas, to Midlothian, Texas. This suburb located about 30 minutes south of the metroplex is centrally located between Dallas and Fort Worth. For our Odessa friends, you’ll be happy to know we can get to Rosa’s in about 15 minutes. Christy’s parents moved here in May and we opted to join them.

Though we’ve not had a lot of time to settle in, we are enjoying this small town and are excited about the upcoming school year and getting to know our new neighbors. I haven’t made plans for Halloween, but I’m sure we will find a way to have a fun time.

Since moving Christy’s parents to Midlothian, we’ve been visiting the Church of God congregation in Dallas with them. Pastor Ken Merrifield and I have known each other for nearly 10 years. I was fortunate enough to be on a team of ministers welcomeing Ken to Texas when he first began pastoring in Dallas.

On Sunday, July 20, the elders of the New Life Bible Fellowship in Dallas, announced they have identified me as a candidate to hire to be a member of their pastoral staff. The congregation will officially decide on August 17.

Should NLBF elect to hire me for the pastoral team, my focus points will be working with teens and emerging adults as well as developing ways for the congregants to engage in the mission of God in their daily lives within the greater metroplex area. I would appreciate your prayers as we navigate through the relational introductions and assimilate to the patterns and systems of the congregation. I would also appreciate your prayers because should this come to pass, these relationships and systems will be challenged with change. The next few weeks will be filled with expectations, questions, and uncertainties.

I’m excited about the possibilities that are ahead. NLBF has a solid history of kingdom interest. I’ve had the privilege of observing the fruits of their youth ministry for some 15 years. I am honored at the possibility to partner with this group at this time in this way. Ultimately, I am further committed to make myself available to our gracious God who has equipped me to equip others.

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Christy and the kids are excited about the possibilities ahead. NLBF members have welcomed us into their homes and Caitlyn and Andrew are quickly finding friends in the Sunday School classes. Breanna has quickly won the hearts of people. Her quick smile and blue eyes make it easy for people to join in her “goos!”

Christy and I are grateful that we already know several members of the congregation through our time at Mid-America Christian University, working with the Texas State Youth Convention, and summer youth camps and Camp Powers. This has certainly made it feel like we’ve been here longer than we actually have.

In the meantime, if you are in the greater DFW area, come out Sunday, August 3, to New Life Bible Fellowship, 3727 W Kiest BLVD, 11am. I’ll be teaching for the worship gathering that day. I’d love to see you there.

Be sure to click “follow blog via email” on your right so you can stay up to date with our adventures. My posts will go automatically to your email and you won’t miss an update. Occasionally, I post a meaningful or random thought too!

No Prayer at Graduation

This year’s graduation ceremonies in at least one Texas school district were the subject of the latest round of censorship. Or maybe not!

The school district announced a week before graduation that it was changing the program and the selection method for students participating in the program. The district would no longer schedule an invocation or benediction. And students would no longer be voting on whom among their peers would deliver these prayers.

Effective immediately, the district would comply with state guidelines and randomly select a graduate to deliver opening and closing remarks. If the students who are randomly selecting choose to make their remarks a prayer, that is perfectly acceptable.

As one might imagine, there was a bit of a dust up in the community concerning the change in the official programming of the ceremonies. Some cried “foul!” Some cited this as one more level of “religious persecution.”

My guess is, if the district had not announced the change, very few, if any would have noticed that no one was officially praying at the ceremony.

Without a doubt, I’m in favor of prayer. Yet, I question the use of it in per functionary ways. Invocations seem odd to me, especially when trying to get the Christian God’s attention. Didn’t he say he’d always be with us?

And when the occasion is a mix of belief systems, how do we respond when the person praying is of a different belief system?

Prayer is a conversation. I agree we should be thankful and offer prayers accordingly. But the prayers don’t have to be public or for show.

Jesus challenged his listeners to pray in secret and not on the corner for all to see. (Matthew 6:5ff)

Prayer has not been outlawed. Instead, prayer is encouraged rather than required.

Possibly, this type of prayer will be more genuine , especially when willingly offered by a randomly selected High School Graduate if he or she so chooses.

12 years in 12 days (part 9)

This series is intended to be a brief sketch of my time in Odessa, Texas.

In comparison to the summer of ’09, the summer of 2010 was relatively quiet. We started the summer off by taking two groups to Camp Powers in the Piney Woods of East Texas. I took the teens for the first week, and Christy took the older elementary aged kids the second. Camp Powers was become a special place for our family and for the emerging GPers. For many, it served as a place to hear from and think about God more clearly. Camp Powers was also just a great place for desert dwellers because it is encircled by trees! Trees are a rarity in Odessa and they helped make the nine hour drive across the state worth it.

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During the summer of 2010 I began working part time for the local newspaper. The job wasn’t anything glamorous, it was just helping us make the ends meet. This was necessary because after reviewing the finances of Grace Point, the leadership team and I were uncomfortable seeing more than 60% of our income being used to cover rent and staffing. We chose this as a temporary fix. As a family, Christy now became the principal income as I took a 75% reduction in pay. The cut seems dramatic, and it was, but it was necessary if Grace Point was going to continue. Though we had been able to attract people to our Easter gathering earlier that spring, we had not been able to capture their attention to return. Income was down and attendance was too. We had lost about 25% of our attendees in the move from Blanton Elementary, in a central area of town to Jordan Elementary, on the far north edge of town.

In July, we took a trip north. We drove through the panhandle of Texas and Oklahoma to see our friends, the Littichs, who had moved to central Kansas. It had been a year since they had left and we missed them. From their house, we pushed on further to Ottumwa, Iowa. Christy’s parents had met and married in Ottumwa. Cheryl’s family still lives there today. It was fun to connect with Christy’s family. On the way home, we picked up a stowaway. Zachary, Christy’s nephew came back with us to spend a few weeks in Odessa.

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As the new school year approached, Grace Point had saved enough money to purchase 400 backpacks for the community. Additionally, we choose to pre-fill the packs with basic school supplies to cut down on the chaos we had experienced the year before. We worked as a team for about three weeks preparing for the big day of the give away.

Unlike the year before, the economy was headed in a positive direction and the need was not nearly as great. We had just over 200 people show up to receive a backpack. We took the remaining packs to the local park near the Boys and Girls Club and gave them away at the end of their day camp.

As school started, things were changing for our family. Christy had moved from teaching 6th grade to now teaching 3rd. She was excited about the change as the pre-pubescent hormones of 6th grade had begun to wear on her. Andrew was entering Kindergarten and Caitlyn was entering 2nd. The biggest change in this was that Caitlyn would now be attending school at Jordan Elementary, our neighborhood school, and Andrew would be attending Dowling Elementary, where Christy was teaching. This was a big change. No longer would the girls be headed out in the morning with the boys to figure the day out. We were now divided oldest and youngest. Christy and Andrew, both youngest, would head to Dowling around 7am, and Caitlyn and I, the oldest, would walk to  Jordan around 7:25am. We were fortunate enough to have Caitlyn’s Kindergarten teacher, teach Andrew too. Mrs. Evans holds a special place in our family. After all, she’s the one who taught the kids to do The Friday Dance.

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With time on my hands, I began to volunteer at Jordan Elementary, hosting the monthly Super Student Lunches. This was a great time to celebrate the accomplishments of students at Jordan as well as to begin to serve the community where we were know hosting our worship gatherings.

In September, my dad and brother came out for a visit. It was the first time they had been out in sometime. With the new house, there was plenty of room to play and they took full advantage of the space. My brother, Grady, introduced the kids to Nerf War in the house!

On 10-10-10, we celebrated Grace Point’s 4th Anniversary. For our official celebration we took a group picture. It is one of my favorite moments of GP.  Some of the faces were first time guests, but everyone jumped in for a great big smile.

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As Halloween approached, I wanted to try something different than the usual trick or treat experience. Many had suggested the Grace Point host a Halloween Night Event. This was very common throughout Odessa. Most churches host some sort of fair or trunk-n-treats type event. I wanted to see if we could use the night to get to know our neighbors a bit better.

Partly inspired by Randy Frazzee telling a story of sitting on his door step with a pot of chili, I grabbed one of the video projectors from the church and set up a movie on the garage door. I thought the Veggie Tales episode, Where is God When I am Scarred was a perfect story for Halloween. This was also the first year for Halloween in the our new subdivision. Wow! The streets flooded with Trick or Treaters. It looked like a scene from Norman Rockwall’s American images. In our previous eight years, we might have seen a dozen kids on Halloween, combined. This was different. We ran out of candy had saw over 100 kids. Our neighbors across the street ran out of candy, but they loved watching the kids come up and stair at the giant singing vegetables.

Near the end of the trick or treating time, a pick up truck pulled up in front of my house and the driver just sat in his cab. I was busy talking with some guests and entertaining friends, but I noticed the driver was really slow to get out of his truck. I gently stepped to get a better view of the driver because by this point he was beginning to wig me out. As he got out of his truck, he approached me very directly. I intentionally stepped back, away from the party on my drive way to engage with this man.

He quickly said, “I know this is going to sound weird but I need to talk with you. I saw you earlier tonight with your kids going house to house and I knew I needed to come find you. So when I was coming down your street with my kids, I knew where I could find you. I know this sounds weird, but you have something I need! Here are the names of my family.”

He handed me a notebook with his name, along with a woman’s and three children names and contact information. As you can imagine, I am a bit skeptical and partly freaked out by the guy.

I replied, “Well, you should know I am a pastor.”

“That’s it!” he quickly responded. “I’m the black sheep of my family and I need your light.”

We talked for a bit more and I agreed to meet with him at a later date to talk about his situation.

As he left, I remembered meeting him earlier that night, one street over while taking Caitlyn and Andrew trick or treating. I had commented to the oldest of the kids how I liked his costume’s hat. It was a stove top style hat and the boy was dressed as Dracula. Beyond that, I don’t recall saying anything else to the group.

When we did meet, about a month later, I found out the names he had given me where of his common-law wife, her two oldest children, and their shared child. They had been through a major family crisis over the past year and were needing some guidance and help. Eventually, the mother and kids began attending Grace Point. He would pop in every now and then. I was honored when they asked me to officiate their wedding some two years later.

That story is still one I marvel at.

In November, Christy’s paternal grandmother, Teena, came to live in Odessa with Terry and Cheryl.

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We had settled into a good rhythm as a family and a church. Attendance was stabilized and many of the folks attending seemed to know each other before showing up for the first time. This was a stark contrast to years before as most of our attendees had never met one another until they came to GP.

It was around this time that I began to look for further opportunities to supplement my still reduced income. I was introduced to two groups in 2009 that paved a way for two conversations in mid-December that would prove to be blessings to my family’s financial situation as well as my development as a public speaker.

The first conversation was with a local business owner who I had met at a Men’s Retreat in 2009. Collin Sewell was working hard to lead his companies in a Christ-honoring fashion and so I offered to help in any way he saw fit. After a few conversations we identified a need among his team for areas of enrichment and development in personal lives, so I began working for Sewell. At first I lead a financial management course and then later I served as the lead trainer for new hire orientations.

The second conversation was in Chicago with a team that trains public speakers. EDC Inc, challenged me as a public speaker in ways I never could have imagined. I had always been comfortable speaking in front of groups, but I did it by intuition. EDC helped break down the mechanics of the best communicators into a reproducible skill set. After the Chicago conversation, I worked with them for nearly 18 months to become one of their trainers.

As 2011 kicked off, Grace Point was coming along and the winter and spring months proved to be pretty stable and quiet. Since that’s not my personality, things needed to change! Easter was coming and we needed to remind the neighborhood that we were here and that Jesus mattered!

So for Easter we hosted a huge Spring Fest in the park on Saturday. We had 5,000 eggs, kites, face painting, feed the elephant, and more crazy festival type events. The turn out was great. Some joined us for Sunday’s worship gathering.

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2011 turned into a big year for Grace Point to serve others. More on how we served others in the next post.

Floor Routines Gone Bad

YouTube has quickly become the location of many of our stories in life.  This compilation video of girls’ gymnastic floor routines is helping us see how our stories need proper context to be understood.


Hideous Choreography Gymnastics Montage – YouTube.

As a communicator one of the most important things you can do is ensure your audience understands the context surrounding your story.  If you fail to set the context properly, the audience is disoriented and you or your message look out of place.

Here are the A-E’s of elements to consider when setting context:

  • Acronyms or Abbreviations – Have you made sure everyone knows what you mean when you use short hand.  After all, what you mean by CYA could be different than what I mean.
  • Background – does your audience understand the proper background related to your story. This helps eliminate a number of confusions because your audience understands the time and place of your story.
  • Characters – Is your audience aware of who the protagonist and antagonist are? Do they know who they should root for or against?
  • Difficulty – In gymnastics, the scoring system is based upon the difficulty of the routine.  If your message requires a degree of expertise or concentration, let you audience know.  Alerting the audience to the need to “put their thinking caps on” is helpful.
  • Ending – Though I enjoyed the video, I felt like it was a bit long.  I think it should have been three minutes versus five.  I’ve sat in presentations where I thought we were at the end of the story, but we weren’t.  Give your audience an expectation regarding the ending and live up to it.

What advice do you have regarding setting the context for your presentation?

What is the worst example you can recall of a message that lacked context?

Dressed to Kill: Your Fashion Choice and Your Audience

Is the way you are dressed killing your credibility?

I love the shift in our culture away from a stuffy look to a comfortable look.  Escaping neck ties, panty hose, overcoats, and those blouses with the weird neck thing, are welcome! Yet, just as I’ve escaped so many of those types of trappings I’m wondering how it has effected our ability to take each other seriously.

Recently, former Vice Presidential candidate and Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin showed up at a political rally dressed very casually.  The Washington Post’s Diana Reese described it this way:

First, her shoes: Five-inch wedges. Her black capris weren’t quite skin-tight but tight enough, and her t-shirt with its Superman logo emphasized her figure. She never once removed her oversized sunglasses.

Sarah Palin in Casual Attire

Palin in casual attire speaking at a political rally
(picture from Washington Post)

In fairness to the governor, that’s how we dress today.  Yet, if I had been in the audience that day, I would have been surprised.

You may be familiar with the saying “It’s the suit that makes the man!”  Whether you agree or disagree with the statement, how we dress matters.  If you want to be taken seriously, dress seriously.

I’m not suggesting we should return to coat and tie or stockings and skirts, but I am asking you to bear in mind your attire shapes an impression.  If you are a public speaker, the temptation is to dress at the same level as your audience.  My advice, as someone who speaks to various-sized crowds for a living, dress one level better than your audience.

So here’s what this might look like:

  • If your audience is in shorts, wear jeans
  • If your audience is in jeans, wear khakis
  • If your audience is in khakis, wear slacks
  • If your audience in in slacks, wear a suit
  • If your audience is in suits, wear a nicer suit.

Dress one step more formal than your audience.

You may disagree with me, but remember, I’m not the one you need to impress.  You need to impress your audience.

Reese adds this comment to her first visit to see Gov. Palin:

I’m sorry, but I’d like my minister, my doctor and yes, my politicians, to look and dress for their parts.

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