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
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
- 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.