I am not referring to how much better it is to preach with both legs still intact, nor a cunning reference to the beautiful feet of those who bring good news. I mean distance. Two feet. 60cm. That makes a world of difference.
Beginning preachers, and some that have preached for years, tend to preach their message at arms length. They study and prepare, but it is all about the notes. From the Bible to the notes to the people. Arms length. Somehow there is a nervousness about this thing out there called the message. The preacher is anxious about saying the right words and that anxiety sometimes shows. Even without showing overtly, it does leave the message somewhat flat, somewhat all about the words.
But two feet make such a difference. If the Bible study, the message preparation and the delivery can all be brought two feet closer, the preaching is very different. Instead of something the preacher is straining to not forget, now the message comes from the heart. Instead of preaching being truth preached by a personality (often stilted in the effort to remember the message), now the message can be truth through personality. Instead of a message being handled at arms length from the Bible text to the listeners, via the notes of the preacher, now the message comes through the preacher with the force of the life transforming power of the Word clear and unhindered.
I am not saying anything about notes in this post, in favor or against. I am saying everything about Bible study that is personal rather than professional (for the sake of others), about message preparation that is unique to you rather than following someone else’s prescribed formula, about delivery that comes from the heart (whether or not you need notes to nudge that) rather than merely transferring information from notes to listeners.
It’s hard to pin down exactly how one message can be preached at arms length, while another comes through the heart of the preacher. Yet as a listener it is usually not hard to tell the difference.