Delivering your sermon with passion
“The Word of God is alive and active,” says Dr. Kevin Livingston, Associate Professor of Pastoral Ministry. The Bible is relevant, and we do not need to “make” it relevant. Preaching is not bringing the biblical text into our modern setting, rather, it is inviting people to enter the biblical world.
This year’s Preaching Conference saw a different line-up of speakers. Dr. Fred Penney, Adjunct Professor of Homiletics, who has organized the annual conference for many years, decided to split up the workshops between himself and fellow Tyndale professors Dr. Daniel Wong, Assistant Professor of Christian Ministries, and Dr. Livingston. Dr. Wong spoke on selecting and wrestling with a chosen sermon passage and Dr. Penney addressed writing sermons. At the end of the conference, Dr. Kevin Livingston focused on the delivery of a sermon.
Instead of listing steps on how to communicate the message in a way that is memorable, Dr. Livingston preached a sermon and then allowed the audience and Dr. Penney to discuss what they had observed. In his example sermon, he embodied all of the important elements of communication. “It went really well,” he says. Dr. Livingston knows that the techniques and tools for public speaking that he presented will aid those who lack the confidence to speak in front of people.
The communication of the message is vitally important, since each sermon is centred in the gospel. One technique is clarity in speech. “You want people to be able to follow along with what you’re saying,” he explains. In the Greater Toronto Area, many churchgoers are not native English-speakers. To speak effectively is to speak clearly and articulate each word so that everyone in the congregation can follow along.
People learn about the authenticity of the preacher through non-verbal cues. “When I’m trying to communicate intensity, do I show that with my facial expressions and the way that I use my arms?” asks Dr. Livingston. “When I’m sad, does that show in my face? Do you feel it?” Pastors must clearly show that they passionately believe what they are saying.
Solid hermeneutics and a well-written sermon are important. Dr. Livingston asks: “If a pastor does not get the message across, what is the point? You have done 10 hours of studying a passage and nobody heard what you said.” The point of a sermon is for the listener to be affected and lives changed. If there is no passion in the telling of the good news, there will be no passion in the listening.