Your Voice is an Instrument – Preach like It

In this post, we will continue our discussion of Charles Adams’ 9 suggestions to preachers that Teresa Fry Brown reported on page 164 and 165 of her book Weary Throats and New Songs.

Don’t be Monotonous

Adams, through Brown, stated “Don’t be monotonous.” Then Adams, through Brown, provides musical language by stating: “Inflection, melody, and tempo changes are essential.” Here we see that the key to overcoming being monotonous is to use vocal change. We can speed up or slow down our speaking. In addition, we can raise the tone or lower the tone as well as put together strings of tones. Finally, we can use inflection in our preaching. The key to all this is vocal change.

Now one might ask, “should we attempt to change these things or should we simply let it flow?” I think generally, we should just let it flow. Listen to two people in an animated conversation. Listen to how the speed and pitch of the voice changes based on what is said. The person in the conversation doesn’t attempt to artificially change these things, it just comes naturally when one is invested in what one is saying. Likewise, preachers should put their emphasis on being invested in what they are preaching. After having said that, many preachers have to practice so that they can be natural. There is no getting around it, the preacher is not talking to one in a natural animated conversation, but is in front of 50 (or 5, 500, or 5000) people in an artificial situation. Some will have difficulty, especially at first, being “natural” in such an “artificial” situation. The preacher might have to practice sounding “natural” with all the natural vocal changes.

Paint the Picture

Then Adams, through Brown, makes a very interesting statement: “If used correctly, the voice can paint a picture with minimal language.” Because how you use your voice is as important as what you are saying, one should do everything that that one can do to help people get the message. Here the preacher embodies the message and becomes the message. Let us embody our messages and work on being natural. When one does this, one’s messages connect with the people in greater ways.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

Posted in blog, Preaching, Preaching Methods

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Revised Common Lectionary
Proper 14 (February 26, 2017)
  • OT: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
  • Psalm: Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b
  • Epistle: Romans 10:5-15
  • Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33
Af Am Heritage Lectionary
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