Preach Magazine Issue 1 - Creativity and innovation in preaching - Page 22

22 SERIAL In your mind there is a brilliant message, ready and waiting to transform the world. It is profound, insightful and cleverly structured. You might even go as far as to say you felt a touch of divine inspiration as you worked on it. S unday arrives. You walk to the front, grip the podium like a lifebuoy and try to remember not to do that thing where you jab your finger like the war recruitment poster. It seems to be going well. But at the door at the end of the service, you wonder why people are trying to sidle past you without shaking your hand. One lady seems to flinch when you catch her eye. There is a muscle complaining in your right shoulder. The truth is, while your words conveyed grace and compassion, your body was shouting judgement. You looked angry, and your congregation now feels jumpy around you. Research indicates that body language accounts for 50–70% of communication. Robert Phipps, one of the UK’s best known body language experts, says ‘Whether we like it or not, we all respond to non-verbal messages. Sometimes we think about them consciously, sometimes we don’t. And just because we aren’t consciously aware of them doesn’t mean that they don’t have an effect on us!’ LWPT8173 - Preach Magazine - Issue 1 v3.indd 22 As preachers, it is vital that we are aware of what our bodies are saying to our listeners, and do our utmost to make sure we aren’t contradicting our own words. To aid us, here’s a concise dictionary of body language commonly used in the pulpit: CROSSED ARMS – says you are defensive, closed off, or selfprotective. Or maybe you are just cold and tired CLASPING HANDS BEHIND THE BACK – says you are bored, anxious or even angry FINGER POINTING – dictatorial and aggressive It also might be where you naturally keep your hands to stop them fiddling, but since most of the connotations of this stance are negative, perhaps a new anti-fiddling strategy would be preferable. CLENCHED FIST – anger, solidarity or resolve I have seen the fist-pound on the lectern used to great effect (it woke me and several others from a light doze). Fists are not always negative, but best used in moderation and accompanied by a rousing call to some worthy response: ‘The church tower is falling down. We must dig deep!’ BAM. Either way, there are probably better things to do with your arms in the preaching context. Preaching often involves a degree of exhortation, and it may be tempting to embellish your delivery with the occasional jab of the index finger. No one likes being pointed at; children don’t like it and adults particularly don’t like it. If this is a habit you have, consider painting the nail of the offending digit a garish green as a reminder. FINGER TIPS AND THUMBS TOUCHING (STEEPLING) – Clever people do this. It indicates connective or complex thinking You can now fake being clever. 17/10/2014 12:53:49