As a preacher, it’s easy to focus on your content and not really consider if your listeners are ready to hear it.
You’ve been studying your material all week, and you’re totally energized by it. It’s all you’ve thought about for days. You are so excited to finally share these thoughts that are bursting out of you.
But your listeners aren’t there yet. They walked into church with everything on their minds except your sermon. They have nowhere near the same level of enthusiasm about your topic that you have.
That’s the way it works. You care. They probably don’t.
So what can you do?
One of the most basic theories of communication is Aristotle’s’ ethos, pathos, logos. This theory suggests that the best public speaking has all three:
Ethos, a credible speaker
Pathos, a message that moves people at a visceral level
Logos, a message that makes sense
In other words, your listeners are subconsciously requiring three things out of you...
Not long after we were married, my wife told me I was using “preacher voice” with her and she really wished I would just have a normal conversation. I asked her what she meant by “preacher voice.” She told me that when I start talking I sometimes default into giving a mini-sermon about the topic. I use a slightly louder voice and get kind of preachy. We had a good laugh about it, but it made me think about how that comes across to others.
She also told me that it is hard to interject because I go on and on without stopping. Her theory is that because I teach and preach a lot I have trained myself to talk continuously without pause.
This “skill” is useful in preaching, but it can be detrimental to your interpersonal relationships. One-sided conversations are no fun. Not only that, but if all you do is talk and never listen to others, your actual sermons become void of the meaningful depth you get from interacting with humanity.
So, these are three...
The best sermons are conversations. You want to make everyone feel as if you are having a conversation with them. Like they’re the only person in the room. Like you’re sitting at a table with with them and discussing a problem, a concern, a big thing God wants them to do.
Two primary points of feedback I’ve heard recently about my sermons:
You come across very personable when you preach.
You have a conversational preaching style.
In most cases people explain how my approach makes them feel. They say that it is disarming because they can relate to me like I’m a real person – not a disconnected preacher guy. Because I seem authentic, they trust me and want to listen.
I understand that not everyone takes a conversational approach, and I’m not saying conversational style is the only way, but I am suggesting it’s worth a try. Here is a way to experiment with a conversational approach:
1. When you prepare, think about the obvious questions or...
Welcome to Preaching Donkey! This blog is about becoming better at communicating the message you want to get across. A lot of preaching resources focus on content; this one is more about communication.
Some topics I write about include sermon prep, sermon structure, sermon length, conversational preaching, getting feedback, rehearsing sermons, public speaking tools, maximizing impact, and anything else related to perfecting the art of preaching.
Who am I? I’m Lane. Do I know everything about preaching? Of course not. I have a lot to learn like everyone else. I just want to share my thoughts and start a conversation. I write about principles I’ve learned from nearly ten years of preaching regularly in a variety of contexts and studying communication in college.
While working on my seminary degree in pastoral ministry, I noticed that my preaching courses focused mostly on theological accuracy, biblical exegesis and sermon structure. These are all necessary, but...