Preaching can be very humbling. I spoke to youth a lot when I was a young minister. Then I went to the corporate world for five years. After that five year stint we planted a church. I remember the awful feeling of speaking every Sunday. It seemed impossible to plant a church, run a family, work a second job and prepare to speak every Sunday. I was not ready for that commitment.
A lot of times churches are planted with Christians who come from great churches with great communicators. Basically they (Christians) expect great speaking. For many church planters they may be used to speaking because they where on staff at a church when they launched, and they spoke on a consistent basis. But many times the new church planter is not prepared to speak week-to-week.
For me I had not spoken for years…At times it was rough. Truthfully I think I finally found my speaking voice at Vista. I found what “worked” for me. I’m a story-teller, motivator, and passion is essential in my speaking. I can’t speak with notes and I don’t like speaking for a long time. 35-40 minutes is tops. (stop laughing-that is not that long)
Here is my rhythm:
1. 6-8 hours of study on the topic. (I’m a verse by verse guy, so that helps)
2. Write out a full manuscript.
3. Practice speaking from manuscript.
4. Memorize all key scriptures.
5. From manuscript create a simple one-page outline.
6. Practice one more time from outline with no notes-free flow.
7. Speak. (no notes-I do have an outline with me)
Tim Keller is one of my favorite communicators. I just read Jonathan‘s post on Keller’s preaching philosophy. Keller stated that it takes at least 200 sermons to become a good communicator. That is 4 years of speaking every Sunday. YIKES!
“I don’t believe you should spend a lot of time preparing your sermon, when you’re a younger minister. I think because we are so desperately want our sermon to be good, that when you’re younger you spend way too much time preparing. And, you know, its scary to say this to the younger ministers… you’re not going to be much better by putting in twenty hours on that sermon – the only way you’re going to be a better preacher is if you preach often. For the first 200 sermons, not matter what you do, your first 200 sermons are going to be terrible. (laughter from the crowd). And, if you put in… fifteen or twenty hours in the sermon you probably won’t preach that many sermons because you won’t last in ministry, because your people will feel neglected.” Tim Keller
So if you’re a communicator do yourself a favor: relax. Enjoy the process and give yourself some grace. Yes, there will always be those Christians who will not be patient and allow you time and space to learn and grow-therefore they will leave your church so they can get “fed” by the seasoned communicator. (It’s not easy sitting through bad sermons, not trying to be critical) That’s OK, the important thing is for the communicator to find their voice so they can communicate effectively over the long-haul.