While some may disagree, I have always considered good preaching to be more like a conversation than a lecture. Both the speaker and the listeners must be active and engaged in order for there to be successful ministry. Through the years, I have not been the most engaging speaker on the planet but I have had times when I connected well while speaking to a gathering of worshippers.
Here are some things that I consider positive signs of a group that is engaged in the message:
Eye contact: while a speaker must look around the room at various people, those who are listening to a speaker should stay visually focused on her. Wandering eyes, translates as disengaged.
Body language: Good posture, squared shoulders and a pleasant facial expression goes a long way. Speakers who see listeners yawn, have their heads in their hands or otherwise looked bored get the message – you are bored. Even crossed arms with a furrowed brow can send a message to a preacher that you are less-than thrilled with what is being said. Watch your body language. If you think that this is unimportant to your pastor, you are wrong. He is watching closely the signals you are sending. If you want to make his day, sit on the edge of your seat and take notes.
An amen now and then won’t kill you: While I never like hype for hype’s sake, an occasional “I agree” goes a long was while presenting God’s Word. This is especially true when dealing with sensitive topics. It is true that most people are uncomfortable with silence. We need to learn how to do quiet well. But there are times when a well-timed, “yes” will break the tension in the room and allow a preacher to proceed with the issue at hand. To me, this is the equivalent of providing positive verbal feedback during any conversation. How tough would it be to talk to a friend and never get any feedback? That’s what preaching feels like when crickets are the only ones making noise.
Laugh at jokes, nod in agreement, answer questions, respond and react: Generally, this has to do with being a good conversationalist. I doubt any of us would walk out mid-sentence, doze off or refuse to engage with a friend who is conversing with us. We should give our preachers the same courtesy.
The next time you are hearing a preacher, consider it a one-on-one conversation. While you can’t talk as much as he does, you still have a very important role to play in the talk.
And ask yourself this question: “what if everybody did what I am doing?” What kind of a church service would that be?
Help a preacher out!
6 Replies to “preaching is two-way communication”
Good thoughts Rick. I honestly do all these things- I especially nod a lot when in agreement with points. I spent a lot of years in choir singing in front of all types of crowds, and “bored” people are very easy to spot and can wear a person down. I am glad to hear that positive feedback in the form of the things you spoke of, is appreciated and encouraging. 🙂
Preaching seems to be a lot like administering CPR. You do your part – while hoping the body will respond with the signs of life. Nothing is more frustrating, and fatiguing to the laborer, than giving others the elements of life while staring back at dead faces.
Dwayne, That is one of the more powerful words pictures I’ve heard on the topic. You described what it feels like – I think that’s why preaching is some of the hardest work in the world.
Val, keep up the good work – your pastor appreciates it!
So true. One of the most difficult speaking engagements I’ve ever had was in front of a congregation that was DOA! It was like speaking to a brick wall, and it drained the life right out of me.