Day: July 23, 2009

what’s a sermon?

Off the back of Natalie’s challenging series on her top 10 presentation offences, I’ve been pondering whether a sermon is a speech or a presentation.

What’s the difference? Well, the distinction, as one blogger with a fair deal of experience in this area puts it, runs like this:

In his autobiography, regarding his stand-up comedy years, Steve Martin writes, “If you don’t dim the lights… the audience won’t laugh.” This subtle, paradoxical observation is the core difference between speeches and presentations. In a presentation, half of the art is figuring out how to create an environment where your audience can actively participate without knowing they are participating. In a speech, the audience may laugh or cry, but they are not required nor encouraged to participate, because, during a speech, the spotlight never leaves the speechmaker.

So … what do you reckon a sermon is: speech or presentation?

Now, I’m really not interested in reviving the sterile debate about whether extemporary or scripted preaching is better or more ‘Spirit anointed’ (interestingly, Bill Hybels’ preaching which usually feels very extemporary is amongst the most scripted). Likewise, I’m pretty cool towards the whole issue of point form v full text notes — you can give a speech from point form notes and a presentation from full-text notes (and vice versa) so that hardly cuts ice.

Go on. Have your say. Leave a comment!