Pastors have a bad habit of forgetting that we are ultimately communicators. We fall into the pattern of preaching and presenting God’s Word the way we always have, or the way other preachers always have. That’s why we get made fun of! That’s also one of the reasons people don’t listen to us.
In addition to studying God’s Word deeply and serving people all week, we also need to become students of the arts of persuasion, communication, and public speaking. If you can’t connect with the audience on Sunday, you’re already facing a major growth roadblock in your own ministry and in your church’s ability to reach your community.
I wanted to pass on this link to one of my favorite sources of inspiration concerning the art of public speaking. It’s really a condensing of multiple links, all of which are valuable. Check out Best Public Speaking Tips and Techniques: Weekly Review [2009-03-14] and subscribe to their rss feed. And don’t stop being a student of communication – that’s what preaching is all about.
The title of this post is attention-getting for an obvious reason – most people fear the thought of standing before a group of people and speaking… out loud. I was too, and still am to some degree. When I was a kid, I was painfully and awkwardly shy. In the fifth grade, I had to give an oral report on the life of Will Rogers. I handled it by self-interviewing. I sat in the teacher’s chair and rolled left and right, pretending to be Will Rogers on one side, and something of a Johnny Carson on the other. Did it work? Well I turned red, teared up a bit, and sweated profusely, but I got an “A.” I didn’t have to speak before another audience for about seven years.
Now, I’m a Pastor. I preach three times per week, teach classes, lead Bible studies and small groups, and occasionally speak in a revival or conference. Because of my role, I’ll speak before an audience between 150 and 180 times this year. My church is not large by modern standards, but our Sunday morning crowd often runs about 230 to 250, so there are plenty of potentially intimidating faces to be concerned with.
I admit an area of weakness in my preaching – concluding (I think it’s one weakness among many). It’s jokingly said that preachers have a tendency to circle the runway quite a few times instead of landing the plane. One of the primary problems is that we don’t usually plan our sermons with the end of the message in mind. We work diligently on the content, presentation, exegesis, and illustrations, but we don’t plan for the end.
Seth Godin writes about presentations and the oft-heard phrase “I’m sorry, we’re out of time.” Preachers ought to read it!