- John 7:37 (NLT) On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!”
In the early days of my ministry I was assigned to a small church in the southern part of South Carolina. A few days before I was to officially begin my assignment Sonja and I drove over to the church just to “scope things out”. Not being the pastor yet, I didn’t have any keys so all I could do was look through the windows on the front door of the church building. My first impression was that it at least had a beautiful vestibule area.
How wrong I was. A week later when I first walked into the church I realized that what I had seen was not the vestibule: it was the sanctuary itself!
A lot of time has passed since that early assignment and today I am blessed and privileged to preach to a wonderful congregation that worships in a much larger sanctuary.
Having preached in many different venues I have come to understand one of the rules of public speaking: the larger the room the more demonstrative you must be if you hope to communicate effectively.
Speaking softly or using a small hand gesture to demonstrate a point in a small room may work fine; however, if I hope to connect with the good people I currently speak to with a small gesture it may not even be seen by many.
Moreover, the response you get back from people – whether the venue is small or large – will always be substantially smaller than yours. In other words, if you are barely demonstrative then you can count on it, the response you get back will be even less demonstrative. If your emotional level is very even and staid, then trust me, you may have to call the hearse to carry people out of the service when you’re finished.
The question is not does being demonstrative come natural to you, or do you “feel” excited or passionate. No, the question is: Do you want to communicate effectively?
Of course the best-case scenario is staying in the study and on your knees in prayer long enough that you become so full of passion that it is easy to “throw yourself” into delivering the message that is burning in heart. As Larry Kelly put it: Do it big or stay in bed!
The same is true of our values. When I was a bagboy back at the Winn Dixie in Dillon, S.C. as a sixteen year old, nobody really cared what I believed. But as the years have gone by and my responsibility has grown I have come to understand that I may have to do an “overkill” on practicing what I preach if I want to be believed.
As teachers and preachers (spiritual leaders) we don’t have the luxury of just quietly and privately praying, worshipping, and giving. Our people watch to see if we really do practice what we preach. That’s why occasionally someone will get offended when you don’t greet them or shake their hand at church or in public. Of course you care and love people, but your actions were not big enough to be believable when your path crossed theirs.
Bottom line, there’s a lot of pressure on a preacher and teacher of the Gospel; the more so as your ministry and influence grows.
The preacher or teacher that can’t accept that is setting themselves up for hurting a lot of people and causing their own self a lot of grief.
So tomorrow: Do it big or stay in bed!
- Spurgeon’s Last Sermon from the Tabernacle (calvinistview.com)