My first preaching experience

It came and went rather quickly. The buildup, just like with anything big and important in our lives, was much longer and grander than the actual event (which could be a separate post itself). The nerves were there as I stepped on the stage for the first time in the role of preacher. But those soon faded away as I began rolling through my illustrations and points in an effort to communicate what it means to live worship as a lifestyle. I will follow up in another post with a summary of my message, but here I want to share a few things I learned and experienced during this process.

1. The process was more enjoyable than I thought it would have been. For about six years now, I’ve had the thought here and there that I would preach one day and I would immediately think about how terrifying that sounded. The task of coming up with a topic, pulling together points and illustrations, and then delivering it sounded daunting at the least. But I found a lot of similarities in the process with what I have discovered in writing (minus the public speaking part of course). I enjoyed the creative process of figuring out the best possible way to communicate an idea.
2. Time goes by really fast. I set out on this journey determined to stay around 20 minutes for total speaking time. I talked to my pastor, Bobby, about it a lot because I was convinced (still am for the most part) that, in the model of Ted Talks, public speaking is most effective under 20 minutes due to people’s attention spans. Bobby even talked about it in a recent post on his blog. I will gladly eat my words as my total speaking time was closer to 40 minutes! Haha I learned that 40 minutes goes by a whole lot quicker than you ever think it would. But that’s ok. It was a learning experience and I can apply this newly acquiered knowledge to the next time (if there is one).
3. Visuals are a presenter’s best friend. I asked my 14-year old afterward what he thought and he said he really liked how I used a lot of visuals because it helped him stay engaged. A picture speaks 1,000 words. We are a visual society and the more we can learn to use visuals, the more engaged listeners will be no matter how long we speak. The cool thing is that a visual can take a wide variety of forms. I used pictures and a video, but I think props or even a white board can be incredibly effective. Visuals also help to capture the attention of those who are visual learners, instead of just being geared toward auditory learners. It is so important to remember these crowd dynamics as we craft messages.
4. Be yourself. I was so concerned that I wouldn’t be able to connect with humor. I don’t consider myself a funny person and our church is used to lots of laugh because Bobby is very effective with humor. I finally got it through my thick skull that I needed to focus more on being myself rather than someone else. I did receive some laughs, but I know that’s not my strength. I sat through a presentation at a conference a few weeks ago where a not funny guy tried to use humor way too much and he ended up coming across as cheesy and annoying. I think “being yourself” is life advice, but it definitely applies to public speaking.
5. My church family and social circle are incredible! I have been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement I have received leading up to Sunday and even more so after the fact. It has come from my family, my church family, friends near and far, and coworkers. Now, those that know me best know that my insecurities manifest themselves in putting myself down in a joking way, as well as doubting my abilities and incessantly talking it all to death. I’m a bit of an overthinker. Ok…a LOT a bit of an overthinker. I think that’s why the outpouring of support I’ve received has meant so much.
6. At the end of the day, it’s all for the glory of the Lord. No matter how talented or untalented, prepared or unprepared I am, God did it all. He planted the ideas in my mind and heart and grew it into the message and delivery it became. My prayer truly was that I would be invisible and God’s glory was on display for all to see. If the opposite was true, then I don’t ever want to preach again.

Like I said, it was a great experience from start to finish. I really appreciate Bobby and my church family giving me the opportunity to speak and share my heart for worship. It challenged me and I believe refined me more. God always knows what He’s doing. 🙂

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