“As long as the content of a sermon is true, that is good preaching.”
“Delivery doesn’t matter, the church is not a circus.”
According to the dictionary a circus is “a frenetic disorganized disturbance” or “a performance given by a travelling company of clowns and animals.” I should probably leave that alone and affirm the notion that the church is not supposed to be a circus.
However, to reject any effort regarding the delivery of preaching because that may turn into a performance of entertainment is like refusing to exercise in case you turn into Mr Olympia.
Preaching is not about performance, and neither is it about a set of words. It is about communication. This is crucial to grasp. The prophets, Jesus, the apostles – they were effective communicators! Good communication is always concerned with what the recipient hears and understands.
Take a solid biblical sermon and preach it without any thought as to the delivery, what might be understood?
1. This is not important. Why? Because the preacher’s body language, posture and energy levels indicate a lack of conviction.
2. This is not relevant. Why? Because the preacher’s dress sense and lack of eye contact made the message feel distant and aloof.
3. This is not true. Why? Because the preacher never looks at us and is decidedly shifty in mannerisms.
4. This is not good news. Why? Because the preacher never smiles and gives off an aggressive I-don’t-like-you vibe.
5. This is not comprehensible. Why? Because the preacher gives no thought to annunciation, and the delivery is not engaging, so the bored listeners perceive the message to make no sense.
Delivery can never substitute for content, but bad delivery will always sabotage good content.
If preaching were just the content, we could mail a manuscript and save time from our Sunday mornings. Preaching is content appropriately clad in the clothing of relationship, communication and connection.