LeadershipJournal.net just published a provocative piece entitled “Preaching as Performance Art.” Clayton Schmit, professor at Fuller, argues that preaching is always performance. Sometimes we perform so that people notice us; but we should perform so that focus is on God’s message.
Schmit modifies the definition of performance a bit. His point is well-taken, though. Whatever we do while preaching will either detract from the message or focus the message. Personally, I am distracted by preachers who work too hard at being “just a normal person.” Casualness can draw attention to the speaker just as easily as formality.
I just preached for the first time in several months and in a new setting: my home church of Eugene Friends Church. I could not believe how many ways I became distracted, or how many things could distract the listeners! I was distracted by the new surroundings and new audience. I am sure that they were distracted by a new body in the pulpit and by my pacing. I was not as comfortable with the microphone as I wanted to be, and I think that distracted both sides.
My prayer was that people would be captivated with the message: that our lives are transformed when we do what is necessary to see Christ. The idea of seeing a supernatural God though all the distractions of physical objects is a miracle. Hopefully, that miracle happened for some on Sunday.