What I need to build myself up to communicate better
This post was originally sent out as an article under the ministry of Simply Proclaim. I have edited it to suit the purpose of this post.
"The test of a preacher is that his congregation goes away saying, not, 'What a lovely sermon!' but, 'I will do something!'" These are the wise words of St Francis de Sales. Implicitly under such wise words, the reality for any preacher is that we need to communicate the Scripture so compelling that people are willing to apply their lives to scriptural standard. I realized that there are at least two things that my education, despite taking a class in biblical preaching, does not teach me such that I can communicate in such a way.
1. I need to build up on my own rhetorical skills.
The Bible College I am attending currently is thoroughly committed to ensure that its students graduate with adequate competence in biblical interpretation. This permeates all the modules, including the biblical preaching module. In fact, biblical interpretation is rated very highly in my biblical preaching module. This is rightly so and I would be worried if this was not the case.
However, I found that the art of rhetoric plays a huge part in our communications as well. How a preacher handles our voice, clarity and non-verbal contributes to the effectiveness of our message. While some people may argue that our speech and proclamation are not with wise and persuasive words, I found that our messages are generally better received if we are able to improve on our delivery skills. After all, things such as bad habits in speaking distract people away from our messages. Nevertheless, I did not really have a chance to hone my rhetorical skills during the course of my theological education thus far.
2. I need to build myself up to be a emotionally healthy minister.
The spiritual formation in my Bible College focuses a lot on the students’ calling and spiritual gifts. However, I seldom hear in my classes touching on the important topic on emotional self-care as a servant of God, and by extension, the preacher of God. Every preacher comes with our own emotional baggage. While we are sanctified by God when we received Christ as Lord, the fact is that the process does not take place instantaneously and may even take years, right up to the time when we are preaching on the pulpit. And preachers do bring their very selves onto the pulpit.
Deep within our inner most beings lay our insecurities, fears and hurts. To deal with these baggages, it becomes necessary for me to slow down and spend more time contemplating in prayer with God and allow Him to speak to me directly. I find this aspect of being a preacher not emphasized enough in the course of my theological education. Given that most preachers will preach in their own local church context and will most likely be known by their congregations, it is thus imperative that budding preachers are educated to deal with their emotional health such that they can preach as emotionally healthy preacher.
That being said, I am by no means suggesting that a budding preacher should not go for a formal theological education. In fact, any self-respecting preachers should go through formal theological education and learn how to apply what they learn appropriately instead of going onto the stage and start sprouting Greek and Hebrew words in isolation during your preaching. Certainly, there are more benefits that one can reap from such an experience, one of which I cannot emphasize enough is learning how to exegete and interpret the Scripture properly. If anything, a theological education coupled with proper mentoring will definitely help a preacher to expound the Scripture and impact lives for the Kingdom of God.
P.S: After sending out this article, I was accused of undermining the work of Bible Colleges in Singapore. I have to say this is not true. If not, my language would be much stronger. And why would I undermine Bible Colleges in Singapore when I am attending one myself and when I am benefiting so much?