The art of preaching begins with overcoming fear.
By Clinton Dixon
So after soaking in more than two hundred hours of teachings at SOT so far, it’s finally our turn to get a taste of what it feels like to be standing behind the pulpit.
With our preaching tests around the corner, homiletics (the art of preaching) was the theme last week. SOT students will be examined on our presentation of five seven-minute sermons, besides being required to submit 10 sermon outlines by the end of this month, on top of three book reviews. Also, there’s my upcoming mission trip to Taiwan later this week. July is certainly going to be busy for yours truly (oh, did I mention it’s also my son’s birthday on the 14th?)
As the week progressed I discovered that people fear public speaking more than death! This bizarre fact seems laughable at first, but crystallizes when you find that you’re next in the hot seat to speak. In a church context, maybe this fear stems from the misguided perception that only the talented/spiritually gifted have been called to speak and preach. Not so! As Christians we have all been called to preach and this is backed up by the exhortation of Christ Himself: And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15).
Now I know after reading this Scripture you aren’t going to be magically transformed into a world class preacher like Pastor Kong Hee or Pastor Phil Pringle but the seeds of sharing the Gospel have been sown on the day you were saved. To preach effectively, it takes preparation, prayer and Holy Spirit inspiration but we must also remember that the start of every journey begins with the first step.
And thus we started with the most baby of first steps in public speaking, as Pastor Ming got us to speak for one minute on a random topic with the person sitting next to us in class—it was no walk in the park, to say the least.
All of God’s great preachers have stories of early struggles in their ministry and especially in the area of preaching, as they grappled with the task at hand. The senior pastor of my former church in New Zealand didn’t even learn to speak until he was seven years old; though he may still struggle with elocution, God has used him powerfully to be a wonderful and effective preacher of the Word, and he has gone on to build one of the largest churches in New Zealand where tens of thousands have been saved.
I just know that any Christian that pushes past their public speaking fear will be rewarded with the realization that they have a burning desire to preach! I mean, how could we not share about something that has not only touched, shaped and changed our own life but also the lives of countless millions throughout the world.
We are walking, talking testimonies of the goodness of God and His grace. Great preaching comes from great personal testimonies. No one knows your story like you do but no one will ever hear your story unless you tell it. Christ uses the willing to spread his word across the world. He will use you to do the same if you let Him.