Part Two

Planting a church is daunting. You gather your launch team, train them in the mission of your church, hit the streets to meet as many people as possible, and finally tackle the organizational nightmare of starting weekly services.

You imagine once you push the proverbial ball over the mountain that you’ll get a moment to breathe. But then you realize that you have to prepare and deliver an intelligible sermon every single week for the rest of your life! Maybe that is a little dramatic, but it’s the way it feels.

If you’re a young preacher, one need will become painfully clear to you: you need to find your voice. If, by some happy providence (as the Puritans used to say), you were afforded preaching opportunities before starting the church, then another need will quickly become clear: you need help in the pulpit. You will most likely be raising up young preachers who need help finding their voice.

How do you find your own voice and help others do the same?

This journey consists of two warnings, one principle and three stages.

First Warning
Charles Spurgeon gave the following warning in his Lectures To My Students:

Our first rule with regard to the voice would be — do not think too much about it, for recollect the sweetest voice is nothing without something to say, and however well it may be managed, it will be like a well-driven cart with nothing in it, unless you convey by it important and seasonable truths to your people.[1]

Simply put—don’t be a homiletical heretic. With that warning in place, Spurgeon goes on to speak of the necessity of developing your voice:

On the other hand, do not think too little of your voice… What a pity that a man who from his heart delivered doctrines of undoubted value, in language the most appropriate, should commit ministerial suicide by harping on one string, when the Lord had given him an instrument of many strings to play upon! Alas! alas! for that dreary voice, it hummed and hummed like a mill-wheel to the same unmusical turn, whether its owner spake of heaven or hell, eternal life or everlasting wrath. It might be, by accident, a little louder or softer, according to the length of the sentence, but its tone was still the same, a dreary waste of sound, a howling wilderness of speech in which there was no possible relief, no variety, no music, nothing but horrible sameness.[2]

Heeding Spurgeon’s wisdom, we realize finding our voice is important but secondary to content. While discussing the need for finding our voice, Spurgeon hits on a needed principle. 

 

One Principle
By calling out the “horrible sameness” of many preachers, Spurgeon communicates a principle I’ve heard many older preachers say throughout the years:

“Sameness is your enemy.”[3]

Variety in tone, inflection, volume, body language, tempo and so on engages your audience while sameness creates constant, static white-noise.

We’ve all grimaced through the screaming speaker like Will Ferrel’s character on SNL who was born without the ability to modulate the volume of his voice or we’ve stapled our eye lids open through the monotone messenger like Ben Stein who lulls us into a deep slumber in the Clear Eyes commercial.

Understanding that sameness is our enemy helps us grow in the delivery of the messages God gives us for our local congregations. We need to study other preachers and our own preaching to understand our strengths and weaknesses as a communicator.

In part two, we will investigate the three stages of finding your voice.


[1] Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to my Students, pg.94.

[2] Ibid., pg.94.

[3] While many preachers have communicated this idea, I heard this specific phrase in a lecture by Hershael York.