Can You Script Authentic?

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I have been previewing curriculum, video series, and small group materials for some upcoming quarters and I have noticed a common thread in most of the videos I have seen. There is a move that has taken place from talking at the viewer to talking to the viewer. Two of the presenters I have seen in past weeks are Rob Bell in his Nooma videos and Erwin McManus in some BlueFish TV small group videos. This move toward a conversational approach to preaching and teaching is wonderful. I think it is necessary. I think it is the voice that is going to reach the generation of tomorrow.

When you watch Rob Bell and Erwin McManus I get the feeling that I am watching the same person only one a little older and who talks a little faster than the other. They both have the same cadence, the same pauses, the same looking down or away, the same inflections. I am sure these video series are somewhat scripted and yet there is an attempt to make it seem like the speaker is searching for words or the next thought. I feel torn because I don’t want someone who is dry or reading from a sheet of paper. I like thoughtful. I like creative. I like authentic. I am making some assumptions when I ask what I am about to ask but I really need to know how you feel about this. As someone who typically preaches from detailed notes I want to hear from you. Here are my two questions,

1 – Can or does it still come across as authentic if it is scripted to appear authentic?

2 – Can a preacher working from a detailed outline still come across as authentic and genuine?

I have my own opinions on the answers to those two questions but I am really curious what you think about it. Any thoughts?

0 Responses

  1. yes….preaching like teaching means getting the 2,000 thoughts that are competing in your head on a subject organinzed enough to present it in a meaningful way. I think that the emotion is there in the midst of an outline. It is necessary to be able to convey what you want to say…unless your/their intellect is much higher than mine.

  2. Hey Matt,

    I think it somewhat depends on the preacher. I’m one of those types that likes to have everything thought out and planned out. I occasionally go off on very small tangents, but most of what people might see as tangents are things I’ve intended to present that way. I prefer a presentation that is well thought out, clearly presented, and where there is not a lot of superfluous repetition. I’ve seen some preachers try to be “authentic” by not following much of an outline, and in the end, my only impression of them was that they were authentically underprepared. 🙂

    Every preacher needs to find his own voice. If everyone tries to preach exactly like Rob Bell, it’s not going to work.

    I think the conversational approach is a great one. Even though we all have our speaking voices, I think we do well to try and remain human, even while in the pulpit.

    Thanks for this post,

  3. I believe we must be organized yet authentic. Our presentation must be lead by the Spirit. We must be authentic at all times. I believe if we are not authentic we will not be effective. Being authentic helps us be relevent.

  4. I write my sermons out in script form but when I preach, I do not take any script or notes with me to the pulpit. This allows me to accoplish two things. The first thing is authenticity. By not having a script, the precise words I speak are fresh, in the moment, words being spoke to the hearers. The second thing accomplished is prudent accountability (though there may be a better lable for this). I have a script written so that what I am going to say and the things I will mention are done with both truth and love. By writting a script, I am able to go back and read it so that what I say will be the truth but done so in a redemptive manner rather than a scornful manner (I have listened to sermons that were truthful but seemed more like the preacher was simply interested in berating rather than spiritual transformation). It also allows me to make sure the truth is not sacrificed at the expense of being gracious and compassionate. Keeping a balance between the two can be difficult at times.

    As for the functionality of having a script but preaching without a script… I memorizing the movements and thoughts of each movement. But this is what works for me. Other preachers and teachers will need to experiement themselves to find what works the easiest for them.


  5. Ditto Mark’s comments about “authentically underprepared.”

    I think that there is a very real danger in coming across as inauthentic or disingenuous, or even in ACTUALLY being fake (not just looking like it or just coming across that way). Although I’m not sure WE (that is, your ministry-doing audience) are the best folks to ask. The regular listeners are the best people to ask.

    That said, I regularly script out my sermons. Although, from time to time, I force myself to preach without notes or few notes so that it sounds different to the listener. Doing sermon prep the same way every week can begin to make the preacher sound monotone to the listener, so that even the best orators can begin to become predictable & boring. Good preaching works hard to be innovative in seeking to capture & hold someone’s attention for a fresh hearing of the Word of God.

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