Speaking of speaking …

Speaking of speaking … November 18, 2011

While browsing the interwebs this morning, I stumbled on this bit of advice for public speakers in Forbes.  I think it has some timely applications for those who speak from the ambo.

In a nutshell, it offers five important tips:

  1. Meet the audience where they are
  2. Make a heartfelt human connection
  3. Show respect for the listener
  4. Inspire follow-up thinking/action
  5. Leave a lasting message of significance.

Isn’t that, in a nutshell, what goes into a good homily?

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12 responses to “Speaking of speaking …”

  1. Related to #1 is an analysis by Scripture scholar James Dow. He observed that Jesus preached and taught with parables relating to the everyday experiences of his listeners. He also stated, correctly in my view, that even the average 12-year-old could understand the basic message that Jesus delivered.

  2. Brief isn’t always better. A well done homily can be short or long, as long as it is holding the interest of the people and is on point and relevant to both the scriptures proclaimed and the people’s lives. I did a 15 min homily one time on Palm Sunday for the Life Teen mass and I held their attention and so it was well recieved. I have done others that I was able to say what needed to be said in 5 min. time limits are not always the best measure of a good homily.

  3. Take a lesson from Jesus…
    tell a story…..
    tell it well…
    so that they can visualize it in their heads and feel it in their hearts

  4. Our says he is using the weeks before advent as a teaching moment. We have been getting out of Mass after about one hour and twenty to twenty five minutes. What was that rule about a seven-minute homily? We get a thirty minute plus homily.

  5. While I didn’t intend it to be that long, it was the Spirit guiding the Homily and it was a followup night from their pre-Confirmation retreat and it flowed well. The teens liked it and so did the congregation, I did not get one complaint on the length. Time limits should not be imposed on a homily. Proclaiming the message is the important thing, and if it takes 5 mins and is done well so be it. If it takes 15 min and it is done well and holds the people’s attention then that is how long it should be. Setting a time limit arbitrarily places the focus on getting out of mass in a certain amount of time, and not where it belongs, on our gathering as community to worship God together.

  6. Please let’s not throw all the stones at deacons. All preachers need ongoing Homiletics formation. Most of the deacon’s I know preach one week out of a month and some do not preach at all (Pastor’s decision). So, if we have a crisis of poor homilies at least 75% of the problem rests on the shoulders of the Presbyterate. That said, there is no excuse for poor preaching. Perhaps we are taking this awesome privilege too casually? 2 Corinthians 9: 6-7.

  7. Personally, I think each individual case is different. What is the problem with the specific deacon (or priest) giving the homily? If its bad catechisis, point them to proper catechisis and suggest continuing education courses. If the issue is their ability to preach from the pulpit in a convincing and emotional matter, send them to proper training. I would suggest them finding a local chapter of Toastmasters to join. It will help with their nervousness, speach writing, and delivery.

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