Friday, January 25, 2008

Shameless self promoting

Okay, so this post is 99% self-promoting. . . with the help of an awesome volunteer who oversees the technology for the local school district, my church has started making my sermons available as MP3 files online, both through our site and also on iTunes. I went today and subscribed to myself . . . not sure what that says about me.

My preaching isn't earth-shattering stuff by any means, but it is easy in my own mind to imagine that I am pretty good at it. Then I listen to myself, and I realize I have a long way to go. I preach with no notes at all, but do use MediaShout software to project the key points of my message on a screen for the congregation to follow along. I arrange my thoughts to follow the slides on the screen, and that gives me the mental framework for delivering my message. I know I could have a better delivery if I went back to manuscript preaching, but I'd rather keep practicing at preaching without notes until my delivery that way is as good as it would be with a manuscript.

So how do preachers get better, other than simple practice? I listen to those I respect the most. I have iTunes subscriptions to some preachers that I really like, and I think that in listening to them, my own preaching improves.

My question is for preachers out there - do you listen to your own preaching regularly? Do you have other preachers you listen to (or watch)? If you do either, does it help you get better?


Jeff the Baptist said...

I'm not a preacher, but I have taken public speaking training to prepare for briefings at work. I'd imagine the skills are quite similar, it is just the topic that varies.

My instructor recommended speaking as you do, using your slides as notes but without a manuscript. You may think a manuscript would work better, but it generally means you're reading to the audience instead of speaking to them. It robs you of the back-and-forth relationship. Manuscript is dead speaking, notes are alive.

Practice is good. Not just delivering a sermon each week to polish your skills in general, but practicing each sermon before you deliver it. Know the material backwards and forwards. Also get in front of some people you trust and have them critique you once in a while. This will help break habits you probably don't realize you have.

I wouldn't worry about the mp3 sounding weird. It's only giving you fraction of your actual performance. A good sermon isn't just spoken words, but how you carry yourself in person and incorporate the congregation's other senses as well.

Ken L. Hagler said...

Jeff nails a lot of the key points.

One thing that has been great for me has been serving as an Associate with a great preacher after my first appointment. I thought I was pretty good but getting the chance to listen and observe first hand someone who is great is an incredible opportunity.

I know this isn't something everyone gets to do or even has a say about. But I've learned so much working with Tom Davis at Due West UMC. I'm nowhere near as good as Tom but I'm much better than I was (and certainly better than what I thought I was).

Brett said...

I listened to your sermons, and I just want to say that you have a great blog.

kidding of course.

John said...

I haven't listened to myself preach except for once, but I could definitely see the value in it.

Needless to say, as Larry is one of my spiritual heroes, I shall be listening to his archive.

Brett said...

I may be like most people, but I hate listening to myself speak. I take support calls sometimes, and I thought it would be cool to record the support calls to be used as training for others. I couldn't bear to listen to myself. Do I really sound like that? Do I really say 'uh' every other word? Do I really have a southern accent like that? Do I really talk that fast?
Maybe there is something to be gained by torturing myself and listening, but I'd rather not.