One of the first rules actors learn is to speak the words of a script out loud before they go into an audition room.
Why? Because no matter how many times they run through their part in their head, no matter how well they’ve committed it to memory, no matter how clearly they can see their delivery in their own mind’s eye, they understand this truth: Things sound differently when spoken aloud.
Every good actor knows that if the audition room is the first place that the words of a script leave his lips, he’s doomed. He should have already spoken them in the hallway or the bathroom or wherever he can find space to do a trial run. His ear needs to hear his voice lay out the material before it matters most.
Though you and I are not performers, the same rule applies. Your message should not leave your lips for the first time on a Sunday morning – ever. If it does, you will have missed an incredible opportunity to strengthen your delivery and your overall craft.
If any of you speak at conferences, or do any guest speaking at other churches, you probably already know the power of taking your message for a trial run – even if you don’t realize it.
When I began teaching in venues other than The Journey, I noticed something interesting. I had figured out that I didn’t need to prepare a fresh message every time I spoke. Instead, I would teach a message that I had already taught on a Sunday morning. Oddly, I started noticing that I did a better job when I was speaking outside of my church.
After a few of these experiences, I figured out what was going on: I had already practiced delivering that message. I had taken it for a test flight. And it always sounded a lot better the second time around than it had the first. The second-hand listeners were getting better teaching than my own church’s attenders. Without even meaning to, I had made my preaching more effective.
Now, one of my mantras has become, “Never preach a message once.” And preaching it in multiple services during the same weekend doesn’t count. Your first service is not your trial run.
If you want to increase the effectiveness of your preaching, you absolutely must develop the habit of doing a weekly message run-through – that is, the habit of preaching your message ahead of time, gathering feedback and integrating the changes into your notes for Sunday.
At minimum, put yourself in the room with an audio recorder or a video camera. Better yet, pull together some interested, trusted staff to listen and give you feedback. That’s the basic concept; here’s how the process looks in detail…
The process for conducting a message run-through goes like this:
1. Put a message run-through on your weekly calendar.
2. Finalize your preaching notes/message manuscript.
3. Gather your personal props and creative elements.
4. Set up for audio or video recording.
5. Gather an interested audience.
6. Deliver the message exactly as planned for Sunday.
7. Elicit positive and constructive feedback.
8. Pray together for Sunday. This one is pretty self-explanatory.
9. Re-edit your notes/manuscript.
The responsibility that you and I carry to bring God’s word to his people is too great for us to ever get comfortable. We should always be pressing toward new levels of excellence.
The only way we are going to get better overall – and the only way our messages are going to be as strong as they can be – is to commit to this process. Excellence is defined as doing the best you can with what you’ve been given, and conducting a weekly message run-through is a definite step in the direction of practicing intentional excellence!
Your partner in ministry,
P.S. For more tips on maximizing your preaching, you can register today for my Planning Your 2014 Preaching Calendar Webinar starting November 12th! Hurry, space is limited!
You’ll learn how to reduce your stress and increase your creativity over the next year. I will walk you, month-by-month, through the specifics of the 2014 calendar to help you plan your preaching in advance!
In this webinar you will also learn:
- When, specifically, to plan your 2014 Big Days (and when not to plan them).
- The pitfalls and possibilities built into the 2014 calendar.
- How to make the most of people’s natural seasonal patterns.
- The best times in 2014 for each of the 3 different types of sermon series (attraction, growth & balance).
- How to make Easter in 2014 more effective than ever at your church.
- Which days you can expect fewer people and how to best use those days.
- Plus much more!
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