Apr 192009

I was taking the service this evening in my home church and it was a very odd experience. I’ve not preached there for quite a while and I was surprised at just how ‘different’ it felt from my placement. The evening service is a slightly different format anyway, but that’s not the issue. There’s a lot more input from the worship group (there is a worship group, even) which is great because I have a bit more freedom on the choice of music. The pulpit, normally used in the morning, isn’t used in the evening and the service is generally conducted from the communion table. And that’s the difference. Not that I would have preferred the pulpit, but that I was working from behind the communion table.

In my placement church the pulpit is never used (unless some of the kids are especially adventurous and make a beeline for it – and can get past the barricade of chairs that’s now in the way) and the service is conducted from the communion table. Except the sermon. That’s delivered from out front using a music stand as a lectern.

And it’s amazing the freedom that brings. I really hadn’t appreciated it until tonight. Now. it’s true to say that I am only just beginning to feel ‘relaxed’ enough when I preach to feel free to move around a bit, but I was conscious of just how restricted I felt in the small gap betweeen the chair and the communion table. Now, perhaps I should have moved out from behind it anyway, but I didn’t think to do so, because I didn’t fully appreciate what a difference it would make. And I was also conscious of falling into the same habits of mannerisms and style that I’ve been working hard to break away from. When my movements restricted I don’t know what to do with my hands. When I don’t have the room to move, I don’t gesticulate, and anyone who knows me also knows that I tend to talk with my hands as much as my mouth. And so my delivery suffers when I can’t move.

One thing that my supervisor has been encouraging me to do is break free a bit more from my notes and that’s tied up with being free then to move around a bit more. I’m not talking about dancing around, but simply being free to be more expressive. Now there are issues about too much movement. It makes it more difficult for anyone who is augmenting their hearing with lip-reading to follow what you are saying. It can become distracting if movements are repetitive. But these are also bad habits that can be removed with awareness and practice.

So, next time I’m preaching in my placement church I’m going to try and be much more aware of the space to be used, more familiar with my notes so that I am comfortable about moving away from them and make an effort to be as ‘natural’ as possible. So, no biggies there, just become the perfect preacher overnight.

And here’s hoping for a charge that doesn’t have a pulpit., but can afford music stands.