Monday, November 16, 2009

Sermons n Such

I get bored easily during sermons/speeches/talks if they don't really engage me. I tend to blame this on the speaker. Yes, I know I ought to listen even if I don't feel like it, and honestly I try, but doesn't the speaker have some responsibility to quit using so many words, and to make it a little more practical with a few real-life experiences thrown in and to vary his tone of voice?

But. Recently Paul was preaching and a few rows in front of me were two brothers who were very involved with the family's newest little granddaughter and as a result didn't listen to the sermon at all. Now I like a guy gushing over a baby, that's wonderful And I will grant the baby was a cutie and I wouldn't have minded holding her myself. But it made me flame up inside to have my husband up there preaching an interesting sermon that he worked hard at, and these folks not listening.

So. Was it Paul's job to be more interesting than the distractions? Or were these guys' hearts in the wrong place? And where does that put me? Surely there's some kind of middle ground of shared responsibility, and I'm wondering where others define it, for themselves and others.

Quote of the Day:
"They don't talk like normal people talk. They talk like Smuckers talk in an argument."
--Emily, on how actors project their voices


  1. Having done some public speaking a thought or two comes to mind. ☺

    A good speaker *reads* their audience ~ & adjusts accordingly.

    Common curtesy means an audience should listen politely.

    There will always be some people for whom a message is not relevant & who will therefore not be engaged.

    Not everyone in a congregation is a commited Christian for who the word is a living message.

    People can become blase about what they have ~ including good speakers ~ & only realise what a treasure they have when they no longer have it.

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  3. "it doesn’t really matter whether the pastor or the preacher or the teacher is some sort of spectacular communicator. If they’re opening the Word of God and speaking the truth, there’s something for me to listen to. They shouldn’t have to be some great orator for me to get something out of it. It’s the Word of God that’s powerful." - Nancy Leigh DeMoss

    this silenced my thoughts of the same some months ago:

  4. If I had to chose between a performer whose manner detracted from whatever truth he was saying, and a plodding speaker of truth gems, I would choose the plodding preacher every time. However, my distractibility has often hindered me from paying careful attention to a plodding preacher. My mind takes too many side trips between words and sentences, and I lose my place. Sometimes I hear other people speak glowingly of a presentation I thought was fairly mediocre. I suspect that at such times I have been distracted more than usual.

    I've read boredom in my audience too when I'm speaking, and I don't like it. (Think eyes-glazed-over high schoolers.) Reading the audience and being able to ramp up the presentation style on the fly are two different skills, however, and I can't always master them both.

  5. It is respectful for an audience to focus on what the speaker is saying. Playing with a baby should wait until after church.

    Speakers should consider the audience when they are preparing to speak. This can be difficult when you have an audience as varied as a church audience.

    My most cherished compliments as a speaker have come from children. I know if the children enjoyed the message and got something out of it, everyone else probably did too.

    I spoke at a church a few years ago for a weekend. The last evening a 8 or 9 year old boy came and gave me a note. It read, "I didn't want to come the first evening, but then it was way more interesting than I thought it would be. You are the best preacher we have ever had." A compliment like that keeps me going for a long time, even if a few eyes glaze over sometimes when I am speaking.

  6. Hmmm...I don't really mind if people don't pay attention when I am speaking. In fact, I would almost rather be ignored. It means they can't detect my ignorance. I have to give two speeches today and my goal is not to impress everyone, but to avoid embarrassing myself. BUT, I'm not a preacher. I'm just a regular person who is trying to avoid becoming known for being a great speaker...because if I become known for being a great speaker, I fear people will request it often.

  7. Oh wow. What a subject. What a question. (An exclamation mark fits well after each of those.)

    As the speaker, I should assume most of the responsibility for an inattentive audience.

    As the listener, I should assume most of the responsibility for being inattentive.

    When I read through Numbers (for example) and I have a hard time being attentive, is the "speaker" at fault or is the listener?

    If I as a listener allow myself to be inattentive, I set the standard by which I should later judge my listeners. But I tend forget my own inattentive, distracted listenership when I am the speaker.

    But to the specific instance you use to illustrate your least three people were distracted.