Find Your Voice

Saw this great post from History in the Making:

I’ll shoot straight. I’ve been visiting lots of churches over the past two years. And it seems like we’ve got the leadership thing down. We’re “mean about vision;” we’ve “chosen to cheat;” and we’ve learned how to quarantine the pastor from criticism like he’s Vladimir Putin.

But the messages are… how do I put this… bad.

We’ve drifted as communicators, I think.

In the evenings, while my boys are playing in the sand, and my extremely pregnant wife and I are catching up in beach chairs, eating ham sandwiches… we watch the surfers drift further and further away with the current. By the end of the night, they’re walking blocks to get back to their towels and flip flops. They’ve lost their way.

Somehow, we pastors have lost our way with messages.

We want to be brash like Driscoll; to look like Furtick; to have cadence like Chandler; to be funny like Noble; and to have content like Stanley. So we try to be all of them, and the result is just a mess. We’re focusing on the method and abandoning an authentic message.

Ben is right on the money with this one. One of my preaching professors once commented to us that preaching is truth mediated through personality. I believe that’s true. Problem is, too many times as communicators we try to have truth mediated through someone else’s personality.

How can I say this without being heretical – the truth is the same regardless, but in a sense, until it’s come through you—worked it’s way through your guts and your personal life and your mind and your heart—it’s someone else’s truth. You haven’t processed, internalized, and fought for it. But when you do, that’s the mark of authentic communicating and real preaching. All of us have to find our voice.

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  • andyblanks says:

    Great thought, Michael. Maybe we are all a little guilty at some point or another of trying to preach like someone else. This is a good reminder to trust God’s gifting AND to stay true to what we see Him teaching us personally in the Word. Good stuff . . .

    Hope you are doing well.

  • Becky Dietz says:

    Hey! Paul even had someone fall asleep during his sermon–and then had to raise him from the dead because he fell out the window. I think that should encourage preachers.

  • Michael K. says:

    You’re right, Andy. Gotta wonder if a contributing factor to that whole thing is the “starpower” of some of these guys. I’m not saying that’s bad, but maybe that it naturally leads to an effort to want to be like them, because they’re stars.

  • Chad says:

    The thing I love about Ben’s post is that none of those guys do everything. Each one of them has their own style and voice. Each of those guys is very different and they simply preach. Seems to me it works best when preachers use the voice God gave them and not try to emulate the style God gave someone else. Honestly, if I’m in your church and you are trying to be like Andy, it would be far more effective to simply play his sermon. He can and will say it better than you. My advice, you be you and let Andy be Andy.

  • Seth says:

    I’ve heard it said about Chandler that, “he is the person in the room who is the most convicted by his message.” That’s probably what makes him effective; he believes it more than anybody else; he’s speaking from a wound (that is being healed).

  • Rob Tims says:

    Without reading all of “history’s” entry and getting all the context, I’m reading the blurb you cite a little different than other commentators. Seems to me he’s saying an attempt to be the best speaker in every way (intonation like chandler, passion like piper, etc.) in every message removes authenticity.

    Why not make that statement detached from our evangelical popes … and say it like this … would we disagree?

    “A pastor should preach expositionally with passion, creativity, imagination, and clarity that glorifies God and sticks to the heart of the listener.” (Rough draft, not a book proposal)

    What I attempt in that statement is what “history” does as well, only without the names …. and what’s wrong with trying to preach like that? I know I am. It’s not about STYLE .

    PERHAPS … if we tack on one more phrase, we can all be OK with learning how to preach better from these (and other) guys: “according to his bent.”

    The scariest part about seeking wise counsel or learning from the best is perhaps best described in Jeremiah 10:21 (NLT here) – “The shepherds of my people have lost their senses. They no longer seek wisdom from the Lord. Therefore, they fail completely, and their flocks are scattered.”

  • Michael K. says:

    These are good points, Rob. I like what you’re saying here, and I think you and Ben are touching on the same thing from different directions. Seems like what’s in common is a call to excellence in preaching, just not a call to someone else’s excellence, or as you put it, “according to his bent.”

    I agree there’s nothing at all wrong with trying to learn from the best. I would say, however, that the learning self-destructs when we only imitate. True learning means internalizing what they do well and then letting it work itself out in your own personality.

    For example, you might say Driscoll is excellent at being direct (that might be the understatement of the year). So we want to learn from his directness. But what does it look like for me to be direct? Surely it’s different than Driscoll, but emphasizes the same positive attribute.

  • Rob Tims says:

    “learning self-destructs when we only imitate.”

    agreed (and well said by the way … you and the english language have much to teach me).

    but help me resolve: “be imitators of God.” “Follow me as I follow Christ.” BE LIKE HIM. BE LIKE ME (or at least DO AS I DO, which is to say, IMITATE ME.).

    you owe me a phone call … hope you are well.

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