We recently watched a classic movie from before I was born. It was good, but it felt somewhat stilted. The camera position felt static, the conversation felt wooden, the timings felt hesitant. We could enjoy it, but we had to consciously accept the old fashioned feel. Today camera work is so much more fluid – close up, from a distance, stable view, hand held and gritty. Somehow today’s approach seems closer to human consciousness than the earlier attempts from Hollywood.
Here’s a quick question: does our preaching feel stilted? Do we sound slightly wooden, hesitant? Here are five quick suggestions to help…
1. Know the text as well as possible. Don’t go into a sermon with an okay awareness of the text. Know it better than you need to for this sermon.
2. Pray about your listeners and how they will best engage with the message. How will a guest hear what you are saying? How might a young Christian misunderstand? The better you know your listeners, the more you can target your presentation appropriately.
3. Appreciate the variety God has given us in the Scriptures. The Bible is not a manual. It is a rich and diverse collection of writings that tap into human emotions and experience on multiple levels. As preachers we should thank God that we don’t have to preach other “holy” books!
4. Become comfortable delivering your message. That involves planning for it to be communicable, running through it ahead of time, praying about its assimilation in your heart and life. When you are comfortable delivering the message you will have more bandwidth for adjustments during preaching, for clarification, for more effective communication, etc.
5. Watch and learn from preachers that communicate effectively today. There are some good examples of contemporary communicators that you can watch, analyze and learn from. Don’t copy, that will look stilted.
People can appreciate and benefit from an old fashioned feel in your preaching, but they have to choose to appreciate it. Why not pray about communicating as naturally and effectively as possible in this era?