Preaching is Not Speeching


Over the last couple of years, I’ve felt a growing need/desire to preach. In some ways, it’s not unlike, as Jeremiah put it, “there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (Jer. 20:9).

When this first hit me, it caught me off-guard. Historically, I’ve not been known for my abilities as a presenter. In fact, just the thought of standing in front of my class in high school made me feel sick. (Anyone who might have seen me give a presentation in school will back me up.)

After a year and a half in Toastmasters (2008- 2009), so I’ve been able to overcome my fear of speaking and my general incompetency in that area. I can make a presentation. I can give a speech.

But preaching is not “speeching” as some like to call it.

It’s something completely different.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gave the following example to illustrate:

I remember reading years ago an account by a well-known journalist in Scotland of a meeting which he had attended. He used a phrase which I have never forgotten.; it has upbraided me and often condemned me. He had been listening to two speakers speaking on the same subject. He went on to say that they were both very able and learned men. Then came the devastating phrase, “The difference between the two speakers was this; the first spoke as an advocate, the second as a witness.” . . .

The preacher is never just an advocate. . . . This is [. . .] one of the differences between the preacher and the lecturer. The preacher is involved all along, and that is why there must be an element of zeal. He is not just “handling” a case. Tod o just that is one of the greatest temptations of many preachers, and especially those of us who are combative by nature. . . . [I]f the preacher gives the impression that he is only an advocate presenting a case he has failed completely. The preacher is a witness. . . . Nothing is so fatal in a preacher as that he should fail to give the impression of personal involvement. (Preaching & Preachers, pp. 88-89)

In order to preach God’s message to a congregation, it must also be God’s message to him. Because preaching, true preaching, transforms—not just the hearer, but also the preacher.

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  • JD

    Wise words, Aaron!

    As far as having issues with speaking in front of crowds in the past, all I can say is that God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called — your experiences with Toastmaster, combined with what He’ll give you for the journey, will be sufficient.

    • Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks JD – good reminders :)