Have you ever got the sense that the preacher is preaching from a couple of feet behind where their body is located? Perhaps there’s a better way to put this, but I’m struggling to think of how to do so. What I mean is that sense that the preacher is speaking the words, but somehow, behind the speaking there is a gap. It’s a gap from heart to mouth, a gap from personality to mouth. It’s as if the preacher’s mouth is being held at arms length from the core of who the preacher is. Somehow the preacher is not giving fully of themselves, but seem rather to be holding something back. Why might a preacher come across this way?
1. The message may not be fresh and overflowing. When a message is old and hasn’t been worked to the point of dynamic freshness, the preacher may stumble through, overly relying on notes, fumbling for words, lacking heart and enthusiasm. It may not be the preacher’s fault, necessarily, but the best preaching comes not from having good notes, or just from good content, but also from being “prayed full” to overflowing with the message God has given.
2. The message may not be truly owned. Perhaps the preacher started preparing too late and so the message hasn’t penetrated the spiritual fibre of their character. Perhaps the preacher remains unconvinced, or even resistant to the full implications of the text. Maybe the preacher has plagiarized the message and hasn’t genuinely worked it through until it is fully owned. The preaching event is not just the message, it is about the message through the messenger.
3. The preacher may be spiritually or emotionally distracted. Everybody has an off day, maybe this is the case. We shouldn’t judge too harshly without knowing the facts. Equally, God sometimes comes through in power when the preacher is at the lowest ebb.
I don’t want to go too long, so I’ll finish the list next time. Love to hear your thoughts on this . . .