3 Reasons Preaching Is More Difficult Than Most Any Other Public Speaking Situation – #1. . . .

shutterstock_150528944 various fruits Different, But The Same

#1) A Serial Audience

All understand that “Public Speaking” has both “speaker” and “audience” components — the transmitter and the receiver(s).

However, the speaker-audience / transmitter-receiver(s) components differ radically from any other public speaking event.

When it comes to “public speaking,” as practiced in a local church environment, these two components include . . . .

A Peculiar Transmitter: A Pastor-Teacher brings with him . . . .

  • his own experiences
  • his family adventures
  • a style of speaking
  • a national accent
  • an educational background
  • pastoral friendships and associations
  • his taste, preferences, opinions
  • past successes and failures
  • a personality
  • etc.


An Uncommon Reciever: The Congregation has

  • a “consistent” median age
  • a general and stable societal makeup
  • a conventional persistent ethnic homogeneity
  • an important kaleidoscopic family demographic*
  • individuals marked by a variety of personal experiences
  • different “psychological-emotional-family-social-marital-spiritual” needs and/or desires
  • differing ideas of what the pastor (who is speaking to them) is
  • differing ideas on what a pastor (who is speaking to them) should do
  • a mixed understanding of Scripture
  • a mixed attendance pattern
  • varied theological commitments
  • etc.


  • a shared history, congregationally – for good or for bad (generally somewhere in between)


  • a repetitive & routine listening experience with the “same” speaker


Put all that into the mix when one thinks about pastoral communication!

Public speaking in a church setting is


from any other

conventional speaking setting.

“Public Address” is typically practiced in three areas of life:  Law, Politics, and Religion.**  Rarely would an attorney speak to the same audience.**  Political rallies are ordinarily a changing audience, and the “stump speech” customarily remains the “same.”

However, with preaching

√ the “messenger” is the same

√ the message keeps changing (and “must” keep changing****) 

√ the audience is fairly stable

Religion (the pastor-teacher in a local church setting) stands alone and is radically distinct in the nature of the speaker, the message, and audience elements and dynamics.

Not only is a pastor a “serial speaker,” but the fact that the listeners are a “serial audience.”  A “serial audience” fundamentally changes the dynamics which are operating.  Such dynamics must be taken in to account by few other public speakers.


*Family is an integral part of a pastoral community, more than most any (if any) other audience.

**We could add “Business/Sales.”

*** A Prosecutor and a Grand Jury might be an exception, but not a significant exception when compared to the length of time involved with a grand jury – 6 – 18 months for a few days each month.

****We are not speaking about the truth changing, but the selected passage, book, or biblical theme.  “Must keep changing” because boredom is a real concern when it comes to speaking to the “same” audience over time.

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