How to speak in public?

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“No! Don’t write it out” – your sermon, speech, or lecture. Just speak passionately. That’s all. That’s the core of the wonderful training I underwent recently. The pastor, preacher, and worker for Open Doors who offered this training has been offering it for years. And this time, I was lucky enough to be able to join 16 others over the course of three days in a lovely country house nearby.

I learned how to make a proper sermon. But no. You won’t read it here, because I listened to the trainer and did not write it out. I did give the sermon with a knot in my stomach, while 16 people listened to me and gave me some advice afterwards. It was scary but fun!

Tea with mom

A few days later, I was having tea with my mother. I told her quite excitedly how the training went and she said: “Oh, girl, write about it! Tell me more!” She is a writer, reads a lot to elderly people, speaks for groups, and, most difficult of all, raised ten kids!

Just sow, and let it go.

One thing that struck me during the training was Isaiah 55:  The answer to the trainer’s question, “Why on earth would you speak or preach anyway?” I used exactly this chapter as a red thread through my book: The World Around My Table

There is so much comfort in this chapter: We sow and sow again, but the seed will do what the Lord of the harvest desired. It will be fruitful for the purpose for which the Lord has sent it. And even the trees will clap their hands when you arrive home. Sow, and let it go!

How? 

In connection with your Maker, with two legs steady on the floor and your arms alongside your body. Just frank and free. With your eyes connected to your listeners, knowing that you’re just a canal, but one that brings your listeners to the feet of Jesus. And yes, the foundation of a good sermon or lesson or speech is prayer and contemplation. But after that: Stand there in the name of the Lord and serve. Just serve.

Five Steps for Choosing a Scriptural Text for Preaching: 

  1. Examine what’s happening here. What’s the situation? What happened before? What do I not understand? That’s probably the same for the listener. Ask a lot of “why”questions to the text.
  2. What is the main message? What do I discover? What can I share? Why is this written down?
  3. Discover more about the context. Take other parts of Scripture that connect to this one.
  4. Reach out for the heart of the listener, dive in their doubts. Voice it.
  5. Send them home with hope.

A few suggestions:

  • Take a lot of time for meditation about the part of Scripture that you like to share – from the heart of the Gospel, through the heart of the speaker, to the heart of the listener.
  • Meditation and time with the Lord is the only way to a clear understanding of Scripture.
  • Think about how I can come to a clear tension arc and use a mindmap 
  • Finally, speak passionately! Go! 

Just a channel

A sermon is not about us. And that is exactly what I loved so much about the training. I might benefit from this course, while hosting our Taize sing moments at our workspace in Wageningen. We are happy to speak about the ancient poetry that we read from a wise king named David. And who knows, we might explain another piece about the world’s  number 1 best-selling book of all time.

A channel you are!

Maybe today’s post is not very relevant to you. Maybe you’re a teacher or pastor yourself and this is a piece of cake for you. When we moved to Toronto in 2010 our girls attended Willowdale Christian School. One of the first Bible verses they learned those early weeks was what Peter writes in 1 Peter 2: 9 (and he wrote it to all of us): 

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light..”

Bless and be blessed.

Did you know that we have set up an online retreat to enter Advent together? 

On November 26th we will have an Online Retreat, for which you are warmly invited, to enter Advent together with some Awe and wonder.

Theme: Simeon says: “Now, let You, Lord, Your servant go in peace, according to Your Word. 

The Question for you is: How are you leaving 2022? What would you like to give back to the Lord? What is your hope for 2023?

A few have signed up already. Come and join! Sign up form is in this link:

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