Monday, May 30, 2011

Preaching is Performance Art
The way it's delivered is part of the message.
Clayton Schmit | posted 5/23/2011
Preaching is not merely the art of textual exegesis, contextual analysis, and creative writing—though it involves all of these. Performance lies at the heart of proclamation.

In literal terms, the word performance means to bring a message through (per) a form. It is a tool for expression, not a means of drawing attention to the performer. Our suspicions of performance are based on a caricature of the real thing, a performance pathology.

Ultimately, if the preacher's words are to become the Word of life, they must be presented in a way that creates a world for listeners to inhabit. This has to do with delivery, but there is more. To truly understand performance requires a theological understanding of human responsibility in the equation of incarnation.

It also means accepting that the call to preach demands submission and humility. Preaching is always about God; preachers must keep it from being about anything else, especially about them.

Good preaching comes alive and speaks to the heart precisely because it is well presented, with proper gesture, vocal technique, and bodily presence. People in the performing arts call this "stage presence." We might call it liturgical presence, or pulpit presence. All effective communicators realize that they must master numerous techniques in order to impact their audience.

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