A sermon is not a sermon until you say it! And if you want to give a great sermon, you have to say it aloud to yourself before you say it to anyone else.
Having now written your sermon it’s time to get ready to speak. A sermon on paper is not much of anything. In fact, it’s nothing. Sermons don’t flow the same way essays, blog posts, and articles do. It’s written to be heard, not read. It’s personified.
The first time a sermon is spoken, shouldn’t be the first time that it’s heard. That’s why, in order to produce great sermons, you need to rehearse.
Every Friday afternoon, I walk into our hot, lonely, empty worship-center and rehearse the sermon – aloud. I want to hear what it sounds like out-loud. I want to walk through my body language. Where am I standing? When will I stand, sit, walk, and what motions will I use to aid communication. Though I’m essentially a teddy-bear on the inside, my height and frame can be intimidating to some. Plus, I don’t naturally smile a lot , regardless of what I’m feeling. Therefore, I want to be thoughtful about what my body is doing. It’s be rehearsing that I can bring intentional life and movement to the week’s message.
I know many of us are leery of sermons that have been rehearsed, but we shouldn’t be. Here’s why:
- Rehearsing Honors God: Your speaking gift is from God and the message you’re conveying is powerful and necessary. We dishonor God by not using methods that we know help us communicate better. Don’t fall victim to the nonsense that God’s Spirit only works in spontaneity. God can work any day of the week, even rehearsal day.
- Rehearsing Honors Your Hearers: People are giving you their time and attention (and money). Church members can be anywhere on Sunday morning, but they’re there listening to you. Don’t wing it! Show folks how important they are to God (and you) by being as prepared as possible. God loves these people, your weekly sermon execution shouldn’t be an experiment. There is a difference between leaving your message to the Spirit and leaving it to chance.
- Rehearsing Makes Presentations Better: You’ve never been to a concert, play, or watched a TV Show or movie where the actors and musicians didn’t rehearse. Why do they rehearse? Practice makes…a whole lot better.
- Rehearsing Embeds the Message: People typically don’t like being read to . Repeated rehearsing is a great memorization tool. I don’t memorize my entire weekly message. My brain doesn’t work that way. But the rehearsals allow me to get “off-page” for most of it and actually engage my hearers.
Rehearsing your message is a powerful tool you should consider. Your congregation will deeply appreciate your time alone rehearsing and your confidence will grow more than you can imagine.
What about rehearsing helps you? What scares you? Think too much rehearsal will make your sermons stale and lifeless? Share with us in the comments section.