There are central issues in preaching – interpreting the Scriptures, applying with relevance, relationship with God and with listeners. But there are plenty of other factors worthy of our consideration. Not central, but worth considering since our goal is effective communication. One of these is stance.
The visual presentation of a speaker is a complex series of issues – dress, body language, facial expression, proxemics, etc. One element is stance. How we stand communicates. I am not advocating a one-size fits all approach. There is no such solution. Consider the following:
The setting – is the occasion for preaching more formal or informal. A casual approach at a funeral tends to backfire! What kind of church is it? What is he tone of the service? Who are the people in the congregation? Since every preaching context is different, there is no one-size fits all approach.
The message – there needs to be consistency between what is being communicated and how. A super-somber convicting moment presenting the most important thing they will ever hear generally does not work well with hands in pockets, leaning against the side of the pulpit. On the other hand, perhaps in some settings, with some messages, having you sit on a high stool in a relaxed manner would work wonders.
The options – while many rightly resist the notion that anyone can prescribe the right stance for every preacher on every preaching occasion, we naturally fall into the inconsistent position of haing a default stance that we use whatever the situation (thereby functioning as if there is a one-size fits all after all!) Take some time to think through your options. Behind a podium/pulpit, coming out from behind it, removing it, leaning forward with more urgency, leaning back against something, sitting on a stool, moving to different areas of the platform, standing still, etc. The deliberate move from behind a desk to standing in front and leaning on it helped to transform a president who was an ineffective communicator into a likeable and more effective leader.
Sometimes small things do matter. Anything that will remove a communication hindrance or inconsistency from our preaching of the gospel is worthy of some attention. Take a few moments to think through stance, our communication is no less important than the president of a superpower!