Buddhism teaching

Disable when preaching or teaching

This list could be called a pet peeve, but in reality it is a list of things that annoy rather than interest the audience listening to a sermon or lecture. If you want to To irritate your audience and get them to disconnect as soon as possible, you can ignore this message. If, on the other hand, you want them to be careful, then this post is for you.

First of all, one of the fundamental rules of communication is to treat your audience with respect. Don’t treat them like they’re stupid or hard of hearing. You don’t need to yell at them. Yelling immediately turns off a good portion of your audience.

Second, stop calling the congregation “guys” when in fact in most churches the majority of the audience are women! Women are not guys. If you want a generic term that works with everyone, use “people”.

Third, be prepared enough to avoid completely unnecessary and irritating terms like – uh, well, ummm, you know (I mean if they already know, why are you still telling them), of course, now (when even if you were speaking directly to an audience).

Fourth, try to avoid gestures that suggest you haven’t showered, shaved or dressed properly or that you’re not feeling well – such as scratching, pulling up your socks, running your fingers through your hair, clearing your throat constantly, blowing your nose, tucking in your shirt, etc. All of this makes you feel like you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing at the time. Unless you’re someone like Tim Hawkins doing a comedy routine primarily for teenagers, this should all be avoided. I realize casualness is increasingly a trend in worship services, but this raises a question: should you and your congregation treat worship as an informal affair? Should you encourage your congregation to see themselves as consumers of worship, couch potatoes for Jesus, just by watching the performance on the platform? In fact, the answer to both questions is no – it’s meant to be congregational worship by all of us, and we’re meant to take it seriously. After all, it’s God you meet in this worship service, not the host of Jeopardy.

Fifth, stop reading sound bites or mcnuggets from the Bible that you then take out of context, instead of whole Bible passages. Careful contextual interpretation of a passage with careful application of the passage makes good preaching.

Sixth, you need to know enough about your own voice to know when it’s too soft (stop lowering your voice at the end of sentences, which the congregation then doesn’t hear) and when it’s too loud. You need to know when your voice is grating and when it’s more attractive and interesting. There is a place to be dramatic, but not melodramatic in the pulpit – the latter being false emotion aroused by you, not genuine excitement about what the Word of God is saying.

Seventh, you should always have people in your life who can assess how you present yourself to an audience. Someone who will give you an honest assessment of the effect of your communication, gestures, body language, tone of voice, etc.

I once saw an army veteran who had lost both legs in Vietnam preach from a pulpit while standing on the pulpit the whole time (he had huge arms), and then as a grand conclusion he did a front flip off the pulpit and into his wheelchair and propelled himself down the aisle to loud applause. The problem is, I don’t remember anything he said — I only remember the stunt at the end of the sermon that erased everything that had happened before from my memory. I would simply say – don’t say or do anything that overshadows the congregation in hearing and heeding the Word of God, and especially don’t do anything that makes you the center of attention rather than the Word. To paraphrase John the Baptizer: “you must decrease, and the Word must increase”.