Sermons How would you rate yourself

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by g'day mate, Nov 22, 2002.

  1. g'day mate

    g'day mate
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    If you are a Pastor how would you rate yourself
    1.Correct pronunciation
    2.control of breathing to insure that when reading the bible it makes sence to others.
    3.projection of the voice,you dont mumble,we need to understand what you say.
    4.presentation of material
    5.Do you hide behide the lectern because
    (a) I feel safer here
    (b) I dont want people to see me (odd socks dirty shoes, over weight,etc.
    (c)I have never been trained to know how to present myself in that way,I am like a static display in a shop window.
     
  2. Rev. Joshua

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    Years of college theatre insured that I don't have any of the delivery issues you mentioned. On the other hand, your fifth question shows your biases quite clearly.

    First of all, I don't preach from behind the lectern. That's where the lectionary readings are done. I preach from behind the pulpit, and I do so because I see no need to prance about. In my urban, liberal tradition wandering about in front of the altar is associated with televangelists and fire-and-brimstone evangelicals - of which I am neither.

    I might have worded your question:

    5) I leap about like a chimpanzee hunting fleas because:
    (a) I don't trust the power of my words and message
    (b) My congregation isn't smart enough to stay awake without prompting.
    (c) I always drink to much water beforehand, and I really have to goooooo. :D

    Joshua
     
  3. g'day mate

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    joshua If you feel that the way you deliver your sermons is great,thats ok by me.I am only trying to get pastors to think. I have completed ten years of formal training in phonetics and public speaking,and what I see and hear aint great mate.
    If you have noticed I use a lot of Aussie slang and this is because its fun.My students never get bored.By the way it took me a further five years to learn how to take the plum out of my mouth.
    If anybody wants to hear somebody speak try Liz.Taylors ex husband Richard Burton.
     
  4. Dr. Bob

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    I am a professional of the "old school", so carefully research vocabulary, pronunciation, mannerisms, presentation, et al.

    And personally I hate pulpits. I work from either side as I present God's truth profesionally but in a user-friendly and cordial tone.

    Not a "lecture" (I usually sit on the desk/table in a classroom to do that) nor "theater" (although I enjoy the narrative preaching style at times). Awesome responsibility to be transparent and allow the Word of God free reign and not let the messenger impede the message.
     
  5. Jim1999

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    "By all means that I might win some"

    The pulpit is there for a reason, and I stay behind it. Perhaps that's because I am English; stiff upper lip, formal and all. I must look at the people when I am preaching. I, therefore, use few notes; just an outline.

    Illustrations and local stories are important, as they relate to the message. I don't like electronic systems and tend to shut microphones off in most churches. Early on I learned how to project my voice and I do enunciate quite well. I speak slowly and deliberatly. My phrases are well selected, and I use many forms of English literature, I am also prone to alliteration for two reasons: it makes my memory retention better and I feel it helps the hearers to remember at least the key points. I also incorporate biblical references within my sermon rather than quote a lot of verses per se.

    Thanks be to God that we don't all preach the same way. What a boring life this would be. Luther's admonition is well taken: "Stand up; Speak up; and, shut up. I always kept my morning services within the hour. Might go a little longer in the evening service, but people don't remember much beyond the 20-30 minute mark.

    My best sermon was my worst and my worst was one of my better sermons. Just how does one guage his pulpiteering? The Lord knows best, and sometimes the people will let you know.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  6. Pastork

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    G'day Mate,

    I tend to agree with Joshua about the bias of your questions, but not just question #5. I noticed that none of your questions really focus on what matters most for preaching, which is the the Biblical content of the message and the godliness of the messenger. Instead you focused entirely on presentation from what one might regard as a more secular perspective. I noticed that your profile says that you are "a retired college principal & computer retailer", so I will ask you to think about how you would rate yourself in terms of qualifications and background for challenging us to think about our preaching. For example, have you spent many years studying the Scriptures in order to develop a Biblical theology of preaching the Word? Have you spent ten years searching the Scriptures in order to understand how to speak "in words not taught by human wisdom but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words"? You say, "I have completed ten years of formal training in phonetics and public speaking, and what I see and hear ain't great mate [a statement that in context seems to be a criticism of preachers you have seen and heard]." But what I can see and hear of your background and perspective for making such judgments about the spiritual task of preaching God's Word "ain't great mate". By the way, I am only trying to get a non-pastor to think.

    Pastork

    [ November 23, 2002, 05:08 PM: Message edited by: Pastork ]
     
  7. Jim1999

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    Ultimately, the person sitting in the pew is the best judge of a pastor's pulpit performance.

    G'Day purposely excluded the contents of the sermon and was focussing on style and performance.

    It is, therefore, a valid question.

    We ought not to be so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good. Even a good homiletics class does not pick apart the message, but examines the messenger.

    Cheers,

    Jim

    PS. Thank you, G'Day for the question.
     
  8. g'day mate

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    Pastork May I ask you to consider this, you might have the best message ever,BUT if nobody can hear you what is the point.
    John [​IMG]
     
  9. Pastork

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    G,day,

    That is a valid question. And I do not want to give the impression that delivery is not important. I just don't believe that one may determine accurately what good preaching is by applying so strictly what is considered good speaking by modern cultural standards. This is why I quoted Paul's statement in 1 Cor. 2:13. In the larger context of that verse Paul is directly dealing with the issue of the manner in which a minister of the gospel should communicate his message. And one of the main points that Paul has to make is that he deliberately avoided speaking in the ways that were regarded as the best forms of communication in that culture. For example, he was elaborating on his earlier point in verse 1f. There he said, "when I came to you, I did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." Paul thus clearly was concerned not only with the content of his message, but in the delivery of that message demonstrating the same principles taught by the message itself. That is, if salvation is a work that cannot in any way be brought about by man's wisdom, then he would not choose a manner of preaching that was itself dictated by man's wisdom as the superior means of communicating. Paul spent a fair amount of time dealing with the subject in the early chapters of 1 Corinthians, but the fact that this issue was still a problem for Paul in his relationship with the Corinthian church can be seen in 2 Corinthians as well. There Paul reminds them that one of their criticisms of him had been that "his speech was comtemptible" (10:10), and he even concedes this point when he says "even if I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge" (11:6). But we already know from 1 Corinthians that one of the reasons Paul received such criticisms is that he made the conscious choice not to allow their standards for great speaking to become his own. Other preachers may have gathered great crowds because they were considered great orators by the standards of the day, but Paul was not one of them. Paul could honestly say that the only explanation for his success was the power of God, and he could remind them that because he took such an approach, they would always know that the work done in their lives was really the power of God (as we saw, e.g., in 1Cor.2:5).

    So, I do not deny that the manner in which we bring the message in important. In fact, I think that it is crucial, but I think we should approach the question first and foremost from the standpoint af a biblical theology of preaching rather than that of "formal training in phonetics and public speaking". I have known preachers who are really good speakers, but who have congregations who are very spritually immature and woefully ignorant of the Word and which tend to fall apart when the "great preacher" leaves the church. Conversely, I have known preachers who are not very good speakers by most modern standards, but who have very mature and Bible-centered congregations. I do not intend to imply that we should all try to be bad speakers, only that we should go to the Scriptures first for the standard by which we juge what is good preaching.

    As for your assertion that I "might have the best message ever, BUT if nobody can hear [me] what is the point", I would simply want to ask why it is they can't hear me. For example, are they not hearing because I am such a boring or lousy speaker, or are they not hearing because of sin? To simply equate good preaching with what people in our culture "can hear" is dangerous in my opinion. However, lest you think that I am just being defensive because I myself am a lousy preacher, I would note that in about fifteen years of preaching/teaching I have consistently been told that I am a good speaker by the elders and other trusted members of the churches I have had the privilege of serving.

    Jim,

    I do not agree with your observation that "ultimately, the person sitting in the pew is the best judge of a pastor's pulpit performance". I do not deny that this could be true in certain circumstances, but as a general rule I do not think so. In my view, it all depends upon whether or not they have a biblical understanding of what a good "pulpit performance" is. If their understanding in this regard is better than that of the preacher, then I think your statement would be correct. But I have not found this to be the case very often. In fact, I would contend that many of us need to do a much better job of teaching our congregations upon this whole matter so that they will know how to find and heed truly good preaching.

    Pastork
     
  10. g'day mate

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    Pastork I had the pleasure of knowing a baptist pastor who has more letters after his name in theology,than you could throw a stick over. This man had everything except one thing,And that was the GIFT in delivery.He only preached about three sermons.He and his wife who is a doctor of medicine are fine missionaries.May I also bring to you attention that in many Baptist Churches the pews are full of Ex Pastors,and Guess who put them there? The congregation,they are the ones who finally make these decisions.It saddens me greatly when I think of Just how cruel some congrgations are towards their Pastors.And finally
    I ask you to take these comments in the true Christian spirit in which they are ment.
    John
    ps no profile comments
     
  11. Pastork

    Pastork
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    [ November 24, 2002, 02:34 AM: Message edited by: Pastork ]
     
  12. Pastork

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    John,

    I agree completely that there have been many men in pulpits who don't belong there, and that it is the church that has to help them recognize this. In fact, I am only in the pulpit as a pastor because that is what the collective understanding of the church and its elders encouraged me to do. God called me to this ministry and used the church to make that calling even clearer to me. However, given that the whole congregation has such a role to play, isn't that all the more reason for them to be thoroughly taught about what true Biblical preaching is ?

    I also am saddened at how cruel congregations can sometimes be toward pastors, but I would observe that they usually don't see it as cruelty. In fact, in my experience some of the most hurtful things that are said to pastors come from very well-meaning believers who think they are helping them to improve their ministries. For example, I once had a man in my present church who had been a high-school speech teacher for a number of years. As far as good public-speaking ability goes, I frankly think he was much better at it than I was then or am now. He filled the pulpit many times before I came to the church. When I first began ministering here (9 1/2 years ago), he was always giving me advice about how I could improve my delivery. The problem was that he himself was not called to preach the Word (a fact recognized by the whole congregation, for there was no power in his preaching), yet he felt qualified to consistently criticize my preaching. He did not see that giving good "speeches" and preaching are very different things. One big criticism was that I didn't have enough illustrations in my sermons. Another was that I preached too long. However, my minimalist approach to illustrations was deliberate on my part, for reasons with which he did not agree. I also preached 40 to 50 minute sermons, but the greater part of the congregation (i.e. those who didn't listen to the man I am referring to) had no problem with this, even though it was new to them. They said they were learning and growing in a way they had never done before, and so the elders decided to extend the service so that I could preach as long as I desired without worrying about the clock. The man who taught speech eventually left the church, but not before he had hurt me and others in the church quite deeply. But one thing I know for certain is that his intentions were good. I just don't think he could ever see past his experience as a speech teacher to see that his own knowledge in this area did not mean that he was gifted to preach the Word or that he necessarily had any real understanding about what true biblical preaching is all about. The congregation as a whole, however, although they saw my approach as somewhat unconventional, could not argue with the power of the Spirit working through me and with His Word in their hearts. I can only praise God for His marvelous grace in my life and for blessing me with the best congregation on the planet! I have related these experiences to you because I thought it would help to explain why I reacted to your response to Joshua as I did. I stand firm in my position, but I apologize if I was too strong in my response toward you. As I have thought about it, I think my reaction may have been a little stronger than usual due to my own past experiences. I think I may have unfairly attributed to you a similar mindset to that of the gentleman I was talking about.

    Pastork

    [ November 24, 2002, 05:12 PM: Message edited by: Pastork ]
     
  13. g'day mate

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    Pastork,may god truly bless you and His work that you have so much of a passion for.
    John
     
  14. blackbird

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    Personally--I stay behind my pulpit--those who don't--when they find that I do--think I have no freedom if I do stay behind the thing!! The pulpit is where my notes are restin'--and I use my notes like a good soldier uses his rifle--he just ain't gonna get too far away from it!

    I'm like the story I heard once of the late great Dr. R G Lee

    He preached a fine sermon one Sunday there at Bellvue--Monday mornin' he comes whistlin' into the office and was walkin' down the hallway of old Bellvue

    There he was met by his janitor--a colored man--buffin' the tile floors with that floor machine.

    The story goes like this:

    Janitor--"Dr. Lee!! Good mornin', Sur! Fine mornin', isn't it, Dr. Lee!"

    Dr. Lee-- "It sure is!!

    Janitor--"Say, Dr. Lee!! Let me ask you! I heard your sermon jus yesterday--see, I was hidin' there up in the speaker chamber over there by the baptistry. Ain't nobody saw me--but I was there! Fine surmon, Dr. Lee! Fine surmon!! But Dr. Lee! I wuz jus' wonderin'! Can I takes that sermon you preached yesterday and gives it to my preacher at my church and see if he can kinda sorta "improves" on it a bit???!!!!!"(no pun intended in punctuations, whatsoever--punctuations were intended for clairity of content!)

    Moral--There will always be somebody come along who can out preach me, out mannerism me, out produce me and outthink me--somebody can always take what I do on Sunday mornin's---and "improves" on it!!

    Your friend,
    Blackbird
     
  15. swaimj

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    1. Correct pronunciation
    I am from the south, and though I have lived in the north for almost 8 years, I still have a little southern accent. I have had seminary students from the north tell me to drop the drawl. However, most laypeople who comment on it tell me to keep it. Also, I am in car sales and worked on the phones doing customer service for 7 years. In both jobs, managers have told me that the accent is an advantage. It helps me cut through the clutter and be heard. So, I have not worked to get rid of the accent. I continue to say, for instance "the-Atre" instead of "thE-atre".

    2.control of breathing to insure that when reading the bible it makes sence to others.

    I always try to practice reading a passage aloud prior to a public reading so that the reading communicates.

    3.projection of the voice,you dont mumble,we need to understand what you say.

    I do well here, I think.

    4.presentation of material

    I think I consciously work on this aspect more than any other part of my delivery.

    5.Do you hide behide the lectern because
    (a) I feel safer here
    (b) I dont want people to see me (odd socks dirty shoes, over weight,etc.
    (c)I have never been trained to know how to present myself in that way,I am like a static display in a shop window.

    I think that in the past, a pastor was seen as a person of authority and respect, even among non-Christians. He was a "man of the cloth" who stood behind the "sacred desk" and spoke God's message. While there is certainly a proper place for respecting a pastor, pastor's need to be careful not to distance themselves from people. I personally think that the large wooden pulpit is a little overbearing and off-putting. To me it creates a physical barrier between me and the congregation which is not helpful for communication and probably symbolizes a separation between me and them that I do not feel is proper. My church platform has one of those big wooden ones and I have not complained, but if we ever get new furniture, I suggest a skinny little stand with a clear glass top so that it is as unobtrusive as possible.
     
  16. Baptist Believer

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    I'm pretty good... Now Yankees may not like my Texas accent or the natural drawl, but I use local expressions sparely and intentionally to add color to a sermon.

    Many years of breathing exercises in various choirs growing up taught me how to use my voice. I hate to hear scripture "read" -- I like to hear it sound "natural" in complete sentences with appropriate emphasis and pauses. I've listened to a lot of storytellers and I try to read scripture in a similar way when appropriate.

    I mumble in everyday speech, but when public speaking, I concentrate on clarity.

    I usually do a decent job of presenting material, but I tend to sometimes try new things without enough practice and experience. I preached the book of Jonah in the style of a storyteller a few years ago and it went over very well. I didn't apply any points until the very end when I quickly listed the three or four points of the book. (I made sure the emphasize that aspect of the text when I told the story so that the points would be certain to connect when I made them later.) This last Sunday I tried to do the same thing when teaching my Sunday School class the book of Jonah and it didn't work very well :eek: because of the difference in setting.

    I vary my use of the pulpit. If I am in a church when there is no wireless mike, I am pretty much bound to the pulpit zone. If I have a wireless, I tend to use the entire area around the pulpit as needed to make the point. I'm not a Bible waver/Bible "folder"/Bible beater shout-at-the-top-of-your-lungs kind of guy because I grew up on that kind of preaching and I always tuned it out. Well-prepared words of truth in a varied and interesting volume and meter communicate more effectively. If I shout, it is a memorable event -- Jesus is risen, the Galatians have been fools, New Jerusalem is descending, there has been a trumpet blast from Heaven or someone has just asked Paul if it is a good thing to sin so that "grace may increase"! :D

    Overall, I do pretty well with the technical aspects of communication. But I know it doesn't mean a thing unless I have prayed over the message, applied myself in study and preparation, and have given the sermon over to the glory of God. Only the Spirit of God can take the words I speak and have them transform lives.

    [ November 27, 2002, 07:17 PM: Message edited by: Baptist Believer ]
     
  17. g'day mate

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    Baptist Beliver
    I would love to have you as my Pastor,you seem to be prepared to learn.And this never stops.Some Pastors think that they have all of the answers.When you are a Christian you are in a constant state of learning.As you progress through live you learn.
    Be kind to me you lot I am getting old you know.
    John [​IMG]
     
  18. Pastork

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    John,

    I agree that we should always be prepared to learn and that as Christians we are in a constant state of learning. What would you say that you have learned from this thread? What is it that you are hoping to learn from this thread?

    Pastork
     
  19. g'day mate

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    pastork I'am trying to be a good witness for Christ,I hope to be more understanding of others. without being too overpowering.
    John
     
  20. TomVols

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    As a person who at one time was preparing to teach preaching (and still would like to do doctoral work in homiletics), I work very hard at all of these. The projection of the voice is helped by good acoustics. It doesn't matter what you say if the people can't hear you. I'm an absolute stickler on this: the sound equipment must be good and balanced. It is abysmal how little attention many churches give their sound equipment.

    I frankly love the pulpit. There are younger ones in my charge who would love for us to get rid of it. For me, the pulpit is a symbol that the preaching of the Word is very important. Now I do not stay behind it always, and not because I'm a televangelist as Joshua suggested :D Instead, I'm more comfortable looking at people in the eyes, having close communication. Communication theorists and homileticians all agree that the presentation is much better when you do this, and is much more preferable to the stilted "if I move from my stance I'm going to die" mentality. (But if you do it, don't run laps up there. That has a negative impact.)
    Then again, if I were in a tradition where the pulpit was enclosed, it would be difficult to do this. It would also be difficult if it were not natural. Isn't that the key to all of this? Be natural, just so long as you're not distracting from the message :D

    [ November 27, 2002, 09:14 AM: Message edited by: TomVols ]
     

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