Monday, March 21, 2011

Do you listen to your own sermons?

Part of my Monday morning routine involves converting yesterday's sermon into an mp3 file in order to post it to our website. For the longest time I would only listen to the first and last bits of the sermon as I clipped the rest of the service off of the file. For the last month or so, I've started listening to the entire sermon. I do other things while I listen - like writing notes to church members or sorting through some mail - but simply hearing myself speak has helped me catch some things that I'd like to change about my speaking style that I would not have noticed otherwise.

Most recently, I've noticed some verbal tics that I'd fallen into without realizing it. My wife had pointed one of these out previously (that's an issue for another post - spousal critiques!), but hearing it for myself helped me realize how irritating it was. Fixing the problem hasn't been easy, but I have been working on it.

Admittedly, the process of listening to one's own sermon is somewhat excruciating, every verbal slip up or stumble causes me to cringe, but I do think the process is helping me to become a better speaker.

So, do you listen to your own sermons? How often? What is the experience like for you? When you notice something you'd like to change about your own speaking style, how do you go about it?

- The Short Preacher


  1. A friend of mine on facebook posted this link to her pastor's blog

    The pastor gives a more detailed look at self-evaluation. I particularly like his "what to listen/look for" list.

    ■ How fast or slow you speak.
    ■ Helpful or distracting gestures.
    ■ Good or poor posture.
    ■ The clarity of your messages.
    ■ The emotional flow of your sermons.

    I'd simply add, listen for verbal filler. Like every one else, in the early days of my preaching I had far too many "uhms." I've weeded those out, but other things sneak in. Recently, I've been ending sentences with a question, "Right?" which was nothing more than filler and very annoying.

  2. I know I should listen to my sermons, but I just can't/won't do it. I don't know why; I just will not/cannot do it

  3. I used to do this in the process of uploading as you've described. I no longer do that, though. Now I go back (not very often, admittedly) and listen to sermons after a month or so has passed. I find more meaningful critiques this way and at the same time I am more encouraged. I can listen to the sermon as a sermon and not something I've been dwelling on and may or may not have communicated well.

  4. I hate it and I think if I listened to my sermons all the time I might quit the ministry. I wonder if some people who often listen to themselves preach think that they are awesome. "I'm awesome! Play it again!" I agree with what you said a...bout it being excruciating and I start cringing before I even hit play.

    I'm really mostly kidding. ...It probably is a decent practice... especially to hear verbalized pauses that you are not aware that you use, or to catch yourself repeating yourself when you are unaware. I don't do it, but I will say this, I would much rather listen to myself than watch a video of my preaching.

    What helps me the most is listening to Taylor Sandlin's podcast every week.

  5. I think they should - the sermon I sat through yesterday was like a spaghetti bowl - no real beginning or end, and no real discernable patterns of anything. I was left wondering what I was supposed to wonder about, except how he got that job.

  6. Craig, I'm glad you chimed in. After spending so much time together I miss you and the rest of the cohort. I don't think you should sell yourself short - I'm guessing a video podcast of your preaching would shut down the internet it woul...d get so many hits!

    H, I know what you mean. I'm afraid I've preached a spaghetti bowl sermon from time to time!

  7. I'm working on listening to my sermon BEFORE I preach it. Frank Pollard and others used this in the old days - speaking the written form albeit still in rough draft into a cassette then playing it back all week as you make visits, etc. With new technology this is now easier than ever.

    BTW, Taylor I would love to visit with you over lunch soon. I am not too far from Angelo.

  8. Dave, thanks for joining the conversation. I look forward to future contributions on the blog from you. I count Frank Pollard as one of my heroes in the faith. He was such a gentle man and yet a powerful preacher.

    Listening to one's sermon before you actually preach it would have some immediate benefits, I think. I have not tried it, yet, but I may soon at your suggestion. I'll let you know how it goes.