Podcast Episode 20 | 12 min
The Basics of Sermon Delivery (Part 1)
In this episode we focus on vocal variety and eye contact.
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Matt Woodley: Welcome to Monday Morning Preacher, a podcast dedicated to the art and craft of preaching God’s Word. I’m Matt Woodley, editor of Preachingtoday.com and pastor at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. I’m here with my intelligent, witty, and at times very sarcastic guest host, Kevin Miller.
Kevin Miller: Wow, you just put me in a double bind there, Matt. You complimented me and then you criticized me. So, if I say thank you it means that I’m accepting your criticism, and if I don’t say anything then I come across as rude. I’m in a bind.
MW: Man, you think way too much. So Kevin, I had some back troubles recently. I went to the chiropractor, the guy goes to our church—and this is going to get around to preaching, by the way. I went to see him and he said, “You know, I’ve been watching you, been watching the way you sit and stand and walk—it’s just part of my profession,” he said—“and I noticed you have some very bad habits. You slouch when you sit, and your posture is really bad when you’re reading.”
KM: Well, that was direct.
MW: Yeah, faithful are the wounds of a friend, I guess. Actually, it was really helpful to me. Apparently, I had picked up some really bad habits without being aware of it, which leads to an important lesson for preachers.
KM: Should I give you a drumroll?
MW: Thank you. You know, I’ve noticed the same thing in my 25 years of preaching career, and with younger preachers and older preachers. Sometimes when it comes to sermon delivery, we’ve all picked up some really bad habits that we don’t notice.
KM: Oh yeah, sermon delivery.
MW: Yeah, our guru and maestro, Haddon Robinson, once wrote this: “While ministers spend hours every week on sermon construction, they seldom even give a few hours a year to thinking about their delivery.” Now, we’re not going to argue with Haddon, so let’s just assume that’s true. Why do you think that is, why do you think we neglect sermon delivery?
KM: Well, I would say what Haddon is true of me. I think part of it is as soon as I’m finished one sermon, I know Sunday’s coming again and I’ve got to get ready for the next one; so, I have to invest more time there moving forward than looking backward. But part of it is I wince when I listen to a sermon of mine and I hear delivery that I don’t think is very good. It’s kind of painful.
MW: Haddon said effective delivery depends on two things: What we say and how we say it. What would you say are the elements of delivery, Kevin?
KM: Well, for me a big one would be your voice. I mean, your volume, your rate of speed, your pitch, whether you’re high or low.
MW: Yep, so that’s voice. Then I would add a few other things. Eye contact is one, movement and gestures is another one, and facial expressions.
Claude Alexander is the Senior Pastor of The Park Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.