How important is the communication ability of a pastor? I think it's always been pretty important, but our culture even has a higher expectation in today's world. I think that the easy access of great communicators on radio, tv, and now iTunes has raised the standard.
Recently the press made a big deal about how the "seven-minute snoozefest" courtesy of one of the speakers at Macworld. Prior to Mr. Boring, there were compelling presentations by Steve Jobs (Apple guru), Dr. Eric Schmidt (Google's CEO), and Jerry Yang (Yahoo co-founder). Then, Stan Sigman (CEO of Cingular and formerly titled Mr. Boring) took the session to an all new low (watch the speech here).
This quote from Garr Reynolds (on Presentation Zen) pretty much summarizes the speech: "Both Schmidt and Yang were enthusiastic and energetic speakers who kept their comments upbeat, simple, and brief. When Stan Sigman came up on stage, however, the atmosphere soon changed. Stan Sigman strolled slowly across the stage, hands in his pockets, in a manner you might expect from, say, a legendary football coach from the SEC about to face the press before the big game. He spoke slowly with a friendly laid-back manner, and at first he spoke from the heart. Then the cue cards came out, the head went down, and it was all down hill after that."
So those comments aren't very nice, I know, but don't they represent the "speeches" of a lot of pastors in a lot of churches? One of my favorite quotes from Mark Beeson: "Jesus gave the most exciting message in the history of the world, and it took the church just 2000 years to make it boring."
I really wonder if...
- There are a lot of pastors who should give up teaching and focus on their strengths.
- There are a lot of pastors who need a group of honest friends around them to tell them when their message flops.
- There are a lot of pastors who should get some help in becoming a better communicator.
- There are a bunch of churches that would start growing if the pastor would stop preaching, focus on pastoring, and partner with another church who has an effective communicator. That's right--plug in a DVD on Sunday morning.
- There are churches who have better communicators sitting in their pews than standing behind their pulpit. And, if there are pastors who are humble enough to admit it and secure enough to do something about it?
Garr Reynolds also says, "Many presenters fail before they even start because they include too much information or cover too many topics. This is true whether the presentation is a 90-minute Macworld keynote or a 5-minute status report. You can go deep or you can go wide; it's nearly impossible to do both well. Choosing what to focus on and completely letting go of the rest (for that moment at least) is one of the hardest things to do."
Let's keep working to deliver a compelling message to a world that needs it so much.