As pastors and church leaders, we have a unique opportunity to stand up and speak in front of people. For many of us though, we aren’t aware of the strengths and weaknesses of our own preaching “voice” or style. The result?
Our sermons aren’t as effective as they could be.
In this Whiteboard session, Pastor Jeff Henderson helps you discover your unique preaching voice, leverage the strengths of that voice, and avoid the pitfalls of it as well.
Oftentimes on a Friday, we dont know what were going to preach on come Sunday. So, we rehash someone else’s sermon we’ve recently listened to.
But when you preach someone elses sermons, you preach out of their giftedness and not your own, and you rob others of what God wants to leverage through your voice.
You have natural strengths and weaknesses when it comes to speaking.
Im a preachers kid so I grew up seeing my dad preach three sermons a week: Wednesday night, Sunday Morning and Sunday night. So, I’ve heard a lot of sermons. And, for the past 17 years Ive been coaching people and Ive noticed that they have a particular strength with how they communicate. Ive basically narrowed down the different preaching styles to 4 “voices.”
And, while you may not know yours, youre probably going to intuitively gravitate to your natural speaking style.
The four preaching voices are:
Here’s an interesting thing regarding your preaching style, you prepare out of your gifting as well.
The goal is not to turn you into something youre not. The goal is to help you grow stronger in your natural style.
Every one of the voices has a strength and a weakness.
Knowing this will help your preparation and your delivery.
You may not even preach. You may be a childrens ministry leader. But, at some point, you have to communicate with others.
At some point, leadership comes with a microphone.
The strength of the teacher is content.
If you’re a teacher, you get fired up and excited about your content. Youre up there and you know everyone is as fired up as you are about the content.
You think, because this is true, because its Gods Word, everyone should be paying attention to this.
But, the weakness of the teacher is connection.
The teacher is so passionate about their content, they immediately dive in but they dont connect with the audience.
The goal of a great presenter is to shrink the gap in the first five minutes and get your congregation as passionate about the content as you are.
How do you avoid the weakness of not connecting? Answer “why”.
The why is most important.
Your job in the first five or 10 minutes is to convince them theyre so glad they came to hear your sermon.
If you assume that people dont care as much about the content as you do, and prepare with that thought in mind, it will allow you to engage them.
If you dont connect with your audience in the first 5 or 10 minutes, its going to be very difficult to bring them back.
In this world of rapidly shortening attention spans, its very difficult to bring people back after youve lost them.
So, how do you do this? How do you grab peoples attention in the first few minutes?
Answer this question for your audience:
Why is this important?
Because its true isnt a good answer even though it is true. Instead, you have to make it applicable to them.
For example, why is this important to my marriage? Why is this important to my kids? Why is this important for my life?
If you answer this question for your audience in the first 5 or 10 minutes, before you deliver your content, you leverage your natural strength as a teacher and avoid your natural weakness.
If youre a motivator voice, you get behind the pulpit and you can immediately connect with your audience.
As the motivator, youre already ahead of the game early on.
The strength of the motivator is connection.
The weakness is content.
We assume that if we engage people in the first five or 10 minutes, were good. But, thats not the case.
Its like the NFL quarterback they bring in at a leadership conference. They give a great talk but there’s no substance to it.
How do you ensure you have adequate content? Answer the “what”.
The what is most important.
What do I want you to do with this content?
Youre naturally going to engage the audience, but when youre finished, what is the tweetable moment at the end of your talk. If you develop substantial content, and pair this with your ability to connect with your congregation, your message will be much more effective.
The strength of the storyteller is engaging the audience.
You can stand up and tell a story and your audience will immediately connect with you.
Jesus was a great storyteller.
Stories illustrate so much.
If youre a storyteller, in your sermon a large percentage of your sermons are stories.
The weakness of the storyteller is WHERE.
If you standup and share story after story, while it may be engaging, your audience may be wondering where are we going?
So, its important to answer the question where am I taking the audience?
Your audience wants to know where youre going.
If youve got the storyteller voice, you need to stop every so often and let your congregation know that youre taking them somewhere.
If youre congregation cant clearly state what you talked about, chances are you had too many stories and not enough direction.
If you can answer this question yourself while you’re preparing your sermons, it will allow your sermon to be that much more effective.
The hero of your presentation isnt you, but your congregation. If they can leave your talk with a specific takeaway, youve done your job.
The visionary voice says were going to change the world.
The strength of the visionary is purpose.
Dr. Martin Luther King, JR had this voice. With this voice, you invite people to join with you to change the world.
The weakness of the visionary is how.
If were not careful, it can sound like a lot of fluff.
One of the things you have to do, is to let your audience know that you think you have an idea of how to do this.
You have to give them an idea that youve thought about this.
You dont have to have a 15 point plan outlining everything, but you do need an idea of what might be required.
The question for the visionary is how exactly are we going to change the world?
The visionary hasnt completed their job until they answer the HOW question.
Different Environments, Different Voices:
Not only are there different presenter styles, each environment has its own style.
Sometimes you have to tailor your voice to a particular environment.
Keep your congregation/audience in mind.
What is Preaching Rocket?
Preaching Rocket answers the question, how are you improving as a communicator?
While some people are more naturally gifted communicators than the rest of us, you can get better.
Preaching Rocket is 12 modules delivered each month. In the first month, we get you 5 days ahead on sermon preparation. By the end of the program, it’s not uncommon to be a few months ahead with your sermon preparation.
The other thing is, Preaching Rocket helps you train other communicators in your church.
Q and A:
Q. Can You Have Two Preaching Voices?
A. Yes, you can have two but usually one rises to the top. We typically prepare with a dominant voice in our minds.
Q. What % of people actually connect with the voice of the pastor at which they attend?
A. People usually gravitate towards a pastor whose preaching voice is similar to where they are. For example, if they are seasoned believers, they probably gravitate towards a teacher.
If they are new believers, or are seekers, they probably gravitate to motivators.
Then there are vision churches.
Q. What are the top 3 connecting techniques you use?
A: 1. They like us: You can offend people but you need to offend them at the end of the sermon. We dont listen to people we dont like.
2. Tell a story: Heres a story about me, this is what Ive learned, this is what God taught me through this.
3. Speak with them, dont preach at them.
Q. How do you use your preaching voice without sounding like youre always using the same pattern.
A: People tend to come every other week so they probably wont see the same openers. One way to keep this from happening is to prepare better. The better you prepare, the more freedom you have to be creative, and the more fresh your sermon illustrations, stories, transitions, and other sermon content is.
Q. How is engaging your audience different from connecting with your audience?
A. Going out and speaking with the people youre going to be communicating to and calling out someone by name is connecting with people.
Engaging with people is what your content does.
Q. What happens when your dominant voice doesnt seem to be working?
A. If youre a motivator in a teaching church, that might be difficult. While you can tweak your communication style, you are who you are. If you’re voice doesn’t seem to fit in the church you’re at, it might be a good time to find a new teaching environment.
Q. Is saying where Im taking you giving away the big reveal in your sermon?
A. No. Its just letting your congregation know youre leading them to a specific destination.
If you can answer this question yourself in your preparation, it will allow your sermon to be that much more effective.
Q. At what point in your sermon should you tell stories and when do you deliver your main content?
A. First off, tell only stories that connect with where youre going, and tie in with your content. Typically, stories are good at the beginning and ending of a sermon. They allow you to get the plane off the ground and land it.