Increase in Sermon Intensity not Yelling

Man screaming out loudIn my post discussing Jasper William’s Whooping System, I wrote about the Whooping Curve. This is an increase in intensity that subsides slightly as you enter the sermon close and then grows again to the final climax.

Now often preachers hear about an increase in intensity and think of “increased volume.” Here the preacher yells and yells and his or her voice can give out as the wear and tear becomes greater and greater.

Your Voice Can Give Out

The other day I heard a preacher who was yelling. When the preacher got to his climax his voice totally gave out. He coudnl’t even talk after the sermon because of this abuse of the voice.

In addition, all of us have heard that raspiness in many preacher’s voices. They have scraped their throat during years of wear and tear. All of this is due to the belief that the only way to increase intensity is by increasing the volume of your voice.

Do Much More Without Straining

However, Rev. Jasper Williams emphasizes that you can do so much more with your voice when you are not straining. He argues that your close should be comfortable. One should be in a “groove.” And one should be able to increase and decrease the volume of ones voice as the intensity of the sermon increases.

Rev. Martha Simmons agrees and stated to me that many African American Preachers use too much volume in their preaching. She notes that many great Black Preachers learn to increase intensity in other ways as they grow older.

Other Ways To Increase Intensity

So the increase in intensity is not necessarily an increase in volume. One can increase ones intensity by increasing the speed of the ones that one is speaking. I have a natural slow speed. If I speed up the rate of my speech it has the effect of increasing intensity.

One can increase it by appealing to certain fundamentals of your own church experience. For example, since I am from the black church or black experience, I can appeal to certain things in our shared experience that can serve to heighten intensity. One might call this appealing to cliche.” Paradoxically, one can increase intensity sometimes by even lowering the volume of ones voice. I have seen preachers increase intensity in the sermon by whispering.

Don’t yell unless you really have to. Always have an overdrive. And always begin your final celebration at a lower intensity to give you somewhere to go.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section.

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  • Sam Sanders

    I have been in ministry over 20 yrs and thought all these years that you have to yell (putting gravy on) in your sermons. After I preach, my voice is gone and take about two days to return full strength.

    Just read the article “Increase in Sermon Intensity mot Yelling” and was blown away. Very helpful indeed and will be mindful of this.

    Thank you so much. God Bless

  • Sherman Haywood Cox II

    Ahh…Yes bring the tone down and let the “Sermon do the shouting”…I am glad it was a blessing to you…

  • Dr. Frederick D. Harris Th.D.

    excellent post, Bro Cox. I have to keep this in mind as I continue to preach God’s word. One of the best things about preaching the gospel is that it’s an continuing learning and growing experience.

  • Sherman Haywood Cox II

    Thanks for the comments. Yes…if we are not growing then we are shrinking….