The preacher’s voice is one of his most treasured resources. Communication with people is essential to preaching, counseling, and witnessing. Some men are blessed with a golden trumpet for a voice, while others have a much weaker, less forceful voice. But every man is given a voice and must learn how to use it for God to the best of his ability. John the Baptist referred to himself as “a voice in the wilderness.” God used him as a mighty influence to prepare the way of the Lord. The preacher’s message must be loud and clear. But how can people understand your message if your speech is mumbled and unclear?
We are facing a generation of young people that do not know how to look you in the eye, speak up, and speak clearly. I realize my hearing is fading as I age, but many young men mumble when they speak. Also, slang and worldly clichés sometimes distort the true message of God. It is imperative for preachers to speak clearly both in and out of the pulpit.
If you are not sure how clear your speech is, ask your wife or a seasoned preacher to listen to your sermons and give an honest evaluation of your speech. Are your words clear and properly enunciated? Do you slur words or do you not pronounce the entire word? Do you speak too fast? Do you speak loudly enough for all to hear? Too many good men have something good to say but it is communicated poorly. However painful it may be, listen to your own sermons periodically and evaluate not only the content, but also the quality of your voice.
I remember a valuable experience while in college. I visited the nearby Christian radio station and the staff gave me a vocal test to review my speech. They were quick to point out some words I was pronouncing improperly. I did not realize my Midwest accent contained unique pronunciations of certain words. Speech training may be a necessity for some preachers of the Gospel. Remember, if church goers can’t understand your speech, they will never hear your message.
Some of the issues of speech involve volume, diction, projection, and pitch. Volume merely has to do with how loud you are speaking. Support from the diaphragm and proper breathing are keys to using volume properly. In my observation, over fifty percent of preachers misuse their voices because they do not breathe properly or do not have good support for their volume.
Word diction is one of the struggles I observe among many young men and women today. Mumbling is one way to describe this fault. Good diction involves pronouncing every consonant and the complete word. One way to know if you have poor word diction is to listen to your recorded voice. A common trait of great preachers is the clarity of their speech. Nobody has to strain to hear and understand their preaching. They do not mumble and their speech is clear and distinct.
Projection is the strength of speaking or singing whereby the voice is used loudly and clearly. It can be used to command respect, conviction, and attention. Variety of the voice is an important essential and the voice can be used so as to capture the attention of the hearers.
Pitch has to do with the variety of sounds that vary from a high tenor sound to a low bass sound. Everyone has their own natural pitch which should be the benchmark of their preaching. However, a variety of pitches can be employed to make the message more appealing. One common danger for preachers is to raise their pitch when they raise their volume which endangers their vocal cords and this practice can result in severe voice damage.
The voice is a vital instrument that must be mastered and trained. Preacher’s must recognize the value of their voice and never take its use for granted. The preacher’s voice is his distinctive identity in the ministry. He must learn to protect it while utilizing it to its fullest.