(I think I’m trying to break my own record for longest subject line ever. Go team me!)
Edit 2-6-07: Hi new people! Welcome! I’m not a seminarian (thank God), but if you are a seminarian, for the LOVE OF GOD don’t do ANY of this!
(s) Mary Sue.
God has not called me to a public ministry of preaching (and have I thanked you for that lately, God? No? Dude, seriously, thanks!) however, I have much experience in public speaking. Because of that, I get a little, well, judgemental when people DO IT WRONG OMG KNOCK THAT OFF! (like, when I was visiting a friend’s church last month, I started making a ticky every time the preacher said “um”. Thirty minutes and 48 “um”s later, I was ready to do a reverse altar call*).
So, for your edification:
The Top 5 Things They’re Apparently Teaching in Seminary About Preaching Nowadays That Drive Me Right Up The Wall
- “I submit to you that…” First of all, I have a dirty mind. So I’m giggling every time I hear it. No, if you don’t understand why I’m giggling, I am NOT going to explain it to you. Live in blissful ignorance. But beyond that, dude, can we get more wishy-washy? And this does tend to come out of the more fluffy bunny liberal than any other brand of churchperson. Say “I believe” for once in your life.
- Starting with a joke that has very little to do with the topic of the sermon and/or the Scripture Readings. If you can connect your joke about the lightbulbs, the bartender, and the frayed knot to the story of the Presentation at the Temple, go for it. But if you can’t, or you’re writing your sermon at 2am (admit it, I know everyone sometimes does), leave the joke off. And if the joke has ANYTHING to do with your spouse, leave it off. You’ll sound like a jerk.
- PowerPoint presentations that just plain suck. Repeat after me: 90% of the PowerPoint templates are not ADA compliant for visual impairments. If I can’t read it, a blind person is going to be up that proverbial creek. And if there’s 48 screens in Arial 9 font, I’m not going to want to read it, anyway. Finally, animations are for Disney movies, I cannot emphasize this enough, people!
- Using a tone and rate of voice more suited to the Easy Listening radio station than Church. Now, I’m succeptible to this myself, and I got yelled at a lot when I was in teacher skool to “Stop DJing and start teaching!” When you are speaking in public, you do need to be aware of the rate and speed at which you are speaking. But that doesn’t mean slow… down… until… you… are….. putting….. everyone…… to……… sleep……………………….zzzzzzzzzzzzzz This happens a lot when you’ve got the whole sermon written out and you’re reading it. Practice more, or put outline points on cards.
- tl;dr (too long; didn’t read). I will gladly listen to a 120 minute sermon if it challenges me mentally and spiritually. My butt will be asleep, but my heart will be glad. However, if your 10 minute sermon is obviously padded (and I have a BA in BS**, I know from padding), I will tune your useless droning out. The average human will only be able to summarize three points out of any spoken lecture. If your heart is not on fire with passionate words that the Holy Spirit has laid upon you, keep it short, sweet, and to the point. And if your heart is on fire with passionat words that the Holy Spirit has laid upon you– still edit, dude.
Thus endeth the list (for today). Anyone else got anything to add?
*reverse altar call: flee (preferably screaming) in the opposite direction of the altar.
**I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Behavioral Sciences. I love my life.