I preached my first Sunday message to adults when I was 16 years old. My sermon was about learning to hear God’s voice using the story of Mary Magdalene and Jesus after his resurrection as my main text.
If you can believe it, I paired my message with a short monologue (talk about awkward) because it was the mid 2000s, and the human video/drama age was still alive and thriving in small and big churches alike.
I’ll forever honor the great man – my pastor for 20+ years – who instilled courage in me, saw God’s calling on my life to teach and preach, and gave me an opportunity to do so at such a young age.
Many communication lessons came with that first night in front of an attentive church – yes, with one of them being don’t do a monologue in the middle of your message. What I remember surprised me the most though is how vocal listeners were to express themselves.
From a teenager’s perspective, a common theme appeared. The church seemed more vocal at certain points in the message. Well thought out points and thoughts were received with claps, outspoken “mmhmm’s” and clear “Amen’s.” So in conjunction, one newly experienced speaker could also assume not doing such a good job would result in quietness… right?
So then and there, the measurement scale was drawn:
Loud, vocal church = good, effective preaching
Quiet church = better luck next time preaching
Watching my favorite pastors online, this measurement scale still seems to be effective.
Even today, my top speaker to listen and learn from is Steven Furtick, and from the observation of his congregation, he does an incredible job! The atmosphere is electrifying. People are hungry to hear God’s Word. They hang on his every thought and explanation. No one seems bored. The feedback is great. Church is lively and vibrant.
So if that’s the standard, my only conclusion has always been “Preach like that.”