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Are You a Critical Cleric or Energizer Engager? Your Preaching Tone Matters

When you preach, you probably have a default tone. Most of us do.

If we are going to preach the Bible effectively, we need to get to know the tone of the text and the tone that we will default to using. Only then can we think through effective communication in respect to the tone of the sermon.

So what is your default tone?

Here are a few possibilities to get us started. You should certainly listen to yourself on a recording, and you would be wise to ask some listeners how they would describe it!

1. Dull Deliverer.

This preacher is generally flat in tone. Not much variation, not much energy, not much life.

This is a hard one to spot in the mirror as we tend to find ourselves more compelling than others do.

2. Energizer Engager.

This is the opposite: pure energy and continual variation in tone (albeit mostly enthusiasm).

Massive energy, excessive movement, a tiring experience for most listeners (unless they are so relieved by the contrast it provides to a diet of dull deliverers, then they will be complimentary for a while).

3. Critical Cleric.

This preacher is generally judgmental in tone. Whatever the text, whatever the situation, whatever the opportunity for leadership and encouragement, the message will probably come across as a finger wagging critique of the listeners or the culture. 

As with every default, this will get some affirmation. You can critique culture mercilessly in a way that would unhelpfully offend any visitor, but some in the congregation will celebrate you “saying it like it is” or something similar.

Don’t evaluate tone on feedback, but do get feedback to evaluate the tone!

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Peter Mead is involved in the leadership team of a church plant in the UK. He serves as director of Cor Deo—an innovative mentored ministry training program—and has a wider ministry preaching and training preachers. He also blogs often at BiblicalPreaching.net and recently authored Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation (Christian Focus, 2014).