What is preaching’s five letter word? Jesus? Ok, yes, of course. And another? This one is also really important. This is one that seems to be strangely absent with some preachers. It’s absence can be as significant as the absence of the preacher’s arm, maybe more so. What’s the word? It is S-M-I-L-E.
Ask someone who listens to you preach if you smile much when you preach. If the answer is “constantly,” then maybe you need to vary things a bit. But if the answer is “not really” or “not that I’ve seen” or “never once in twenty-three years of preaching” then maybe it is time to consider the following factors:
1. If you are a Christian you have reason to smile. Yes we live in difficult times and the gospel is serious business and lives are messy and many are lost. But if a Christian doesn’t have reason to smile, nobody does. The fruit of the Spirit is joy. This may be evident in you at other times, but perhaps the weight of the ministry burden or a hint of public speaking fear is hiding it?
2. If you have good news you have reason to smile. The gospel isn’t just called good news. It actually is good news! We would be wary of someone offering us lesser good news without any hint of a smile.
3. If you are enthusiastic about your message you have reason to smile. Your smile is part of the whole package of communication that includes the words, the tone of voice, the body language and the facial expression. I remember that dear elderly brother who used to stand on a Sunday morning and droan great content in the dullest voice and with the saddest face, “we are overjoyed to be here this morning to worship the Lord.” Really?
4. If you love the people you are talking to you have reason to smile. In normal life we don’t have to consciously try to smile when we meet relatives or friends that we love. Many of the smile-free preachers I’ve met in recent years are quite amiable in conversation.
5. If you are representing Christ you have reason to smile. This is the biggest one in my mind. As a preacher of the gospel you are representing Christ, not only in your words, but also in your demeanour. Please let people know that Christ is winsome and warm and loving and kind and has the most beautiful character qualities.
Love to hear your thoughts on smile-less preaching. Anyone like to defend it?