Michelle just submitted this comment to the site, a plea for help!
I just joined a preaching/homelietics course at my church and we are using Robinson’s Biblical Preaching book. On the first day I learned that we will be giving a fifteen minute sermon at the end of the course. The course is seven wks. long. I’m terrified. I had no idea that I’d be speaking in front of our pastor and the other ladies in the class. I’m so tempted to drop out but it was open to a selected few. I joined because I am a leader for bible study fellowship and we use homiletics. I thought this would be a great way to better myself at the skill of homiletics.
I want to be able to prepare and deliver passages just not in a preaching setting, more of a small group. I have made up my mind to finish the course but I was wondering if there were any resources you could recommend that would help me get over my GREAT fear of speaking in front of large groups.
Anything would help!
So let’s see if we can help. Feel free to add your comments to the post and supplement my few thoughts.
Fear of Public Speaking is Normal – You’ve probably heard that manipulated statistic that tells us that more people fear speaking in public than death itself. The fear is normal. Over time and with practice the fear subsides and you are left with some level of gentle nervousness. In this case, Michele, you have to get through one event in order to take this class that will benefit your ministry in Bible Study Fellowship (a very strategic ministry from what I’ve heard!)
People Don’t Think What You Think They Will Think – The fear often relates to what others think in some respect. It helps to realize that in a preaching class, everyone is in the same boat. Consequently everyone respects everyone else for going through with it. Even the pastor was once a first-timer, sitting nervously in a seminary classroom trying to remember his opening few lines as he awaited his turn. A class like this is typically like a New Preacher’s Anonymous group, and once you speak, everyone is really welcoming and appreciative!
Re-Orient the Group to Your Goal – Since you are taking the class to help you improve your skills for the BSF setting, your pastor may allow you to take a few brief moments at the start to set up the context for your “message.” People with a context in which to apply what they learn are usually better learners anyway, so why not? Simply describe the setting as it would be at BSF and then present using what you’ve learned in the course, but in a way appropriate to that setting (so if you normally sit, then sit, for example). I teach essentially the Haddon Robinson approach and have had people turn the end of course preaching into a youth group lesson, a Sunday School lesson, etc. It can be done, people will “play along” and it puts listeners mentally “on your turf.” For nerves, this can help a lot. (Talk to the leader first and follow whatever restrictions to this advice that they suggest.)
Someone will probably quote the standard “tool” for overcoming fear, that of imagining your audience naked. I won’t mention that though, because I think it doesn’t quite fit with the more serious realities of preaching! Ultimately fear that pushes you up against God has to be a good thing. The course should be a real help for the great ministry at BSF. Furthermore, you’ve probably already done the main thing – committing to going through with it despite the fear. You won’t regret it!
I’ve gone on way too long, other tips?