Let’s move on to some of the more serious elements of being a pastor.
The primary job of the pastor is this – feed my sheep.
Something to remember – the congregation is composed of people just like you. There’s no distinction between “Clergy” and “Laity” in the Bible.
Everyone in your future church has the same sin issues you do. At any point in time, at least a quarter of any given local church will be in a state of backsliding to some degree or another. And any given message you preach, if it’s Biblical, is going to offend someone.
I would try this – be honest with your congregation but not in a mocking or cocky way. Honest, and with humility, remind people that preaching the Bible requires stepping on toes.
“One of the hard things about preaching, is that often some of us are struggling with the flesh. Our Old Man rises up in us routinely. There’s only two states a Christian has – when you know the Old Man has risen up, and when you don’t know the Old Man has risen up. And sometimes it will seem like I’m preaching to you directly. I’m not – God just delivers a message home without me.”
That had an ABC structure, and it was honest. A. We struggle with our flesh. B. It’s part of the regular Christian life, for ALL CHRISTIANS. C. God is the one who convicts.
Honesty will go a long way with your congregations.
There’s a funny phenomenon I’ve noticed. Most Pastors think “Preacher manner” is to… um… become effeminate in the pulpit. Our voices raise and soften, our gesture minimize, for fear of frightening our congregations. Many preachers micro-shrug when they preach, not knowing that’s perceived subconsciously as lying. Believe it or not, this softening of your mannerisms does not convey a message of caring to the congregation, but rather one of weakness.
Independent Baptist Pastors, on the other hand… tend to macho up.
Try this. Be strong. Be unassuming. Be Humble.
WHo’s got good preaching manner? Johnny Mac is good. john Macarthur spends much of his time breaking every rule about preaching. He’s looking at his pulpit most of the time. He doesn’t pace, he doesn’t even move. But he’s… strong in mannerism,
Danny Castle is a… wow. I could never be Danny Castle. Man, he gets FIRED UP when he preaches! If that’s you naturally, go for it. If it’s not… don’t affect it!
Be bold, but not cocky. You are preaching the word of God and it is never something to apologize for. When you get up there, and your hand has the fingers slightly curled as you gently wave it from the pulpit, you’re softening the message, believe it or not! You don’t have to pound your pulpit, you don’t have to do the “Kararte chop” for emphasis, but understand…. what you do physically is recieved louder by the congregation than what you actually say!
So… preach in front of a mirror while you’re in the first month of Seminary. Or video tape it, and ask someone to critique it for you.
Okay, let’s work on tone of voice. Your preaching tone of voice literally should be the same pitch as your speaking tone of voice. Don’t raise it in pitch to project.
Here’s something I haven’t heard anywhere else, but it’s true. Lower frequencies require twice the db to be as loud as higher frequencies. Most people raise their voice in pitch to shout or be heard. Far better to make sure your church as a good PA system, and not an old Fender 4 channel 100-watt PA system from 1974.
Instead, consciously practice preaching in the same key as your speaking voice… but a little louder. Let the PA do the work. I preached one sermon where the microphone I was wearing had dying batteries. As the sermon went on, my voice was getting quieter. So, I began projecting louder.
Here’s the question… how do you develop a louder voice? The answer is quite simple, and I learned it by accident. When I was 9, my mother bought a book at the grocery store about a boy in Spain who was learning to free-dive for pearls. So he practiced filling his lungs with air, every day – and holding them.
So, being a 9 year old boy, I’d walk around, doing just that. My speaking voice projects… well… way too loud. When I cough, apparently I’m deafening. And my cat runs away from me.
Let’s get to the last part. DON’T SLOUCH. Impossible to get good voice tone (it’s called timbre, by the way – pronounce that word TAMBER, not TIMBER), and it leads to the impression you’re not exactly sure. Stand up on your feet, chest out when you preach! You want to project the impression you are CONFIDENT. TRy to find some of those old public speaking films from the 1950’s, and notice the posture they want you to take (they were usually made by AFI – American Films… And were usually horrible!). Yes, they’re on the internet for free.
Okay, there you go. Starter notes on preaching. tomorrow, I’ll start on how to write a sermon.