Many preaching books focus on the content of preaching. They will provide a detailed method of understanding the Bible and then turning your study into an outline to preach. But what happens when you actually get up to speak? How do you keep people awake?
In their preaching book, Saving Eutuchys, Gary Millar and Phil Campbell cover the content of preaching and delivery. In terms of delivery, Campbell provides helpful tips in chapter six, entitled “Stand and Deliver.”
What makes a compelling sermon? Campbell says that it is “verbal energy” (101). A preacher’s “verbal energy” not only inform what he says, but how he says it. The same sermon could be delivered by two different pastors. The one that sticks? The one with more verbal energy.
The million-dollar question, then, is, “How do you develop verbal energy”?
1. Use contrast
When speaking, “make the bold really bold.” (102). Make your loud times LOUD. Make your soft time, softer than you could imagine (whisper maybe?)
2. Vary Volume, Pitch, and Pace
Campbell gives a visual illustration of the three components of speaking in what is called the “Delivery Sphere”:
His advice is to vary all three of these components to their end range. Unfortunately, most preachers believe they have more variety in their delivery than they actually have (106).
3. Be Agile
Preachers need to know how to go from loud to soft, high pitch to low, fast to slow. And do it in a way which is not distracting or misplacing the emphasis (107). The problem with agility is that it comes at a cost: “When you try speaking like that, which I urge you to do, you’ll find that it takes a huge amount of energy. But it’s exactly that energy that’s transmitted to your listeners” (108).
You Can Keep People Awake
You, even you, can keep people awake while you speak. No more nodding off. No more dozing while talking about the greatest news in the world: the redemption that comes through Christ. It is possible to preach God’s word and keep people awake!