(Photo: Catalyst Conference)
Well-known Christian leaders Louie Giglio, Ed Stetzer, and Mark Driscoll all encouraged pastors that the best way to communicate God's word to a congregation is to find one's own voice and preaching style, a skill which only comes from hours of practice and preparation, they said in a recent web seminar called "Preach Better Sermons" produced by The Rocket Company.
In a brief discussion with the online conference's host, Pastor Jeff Henderson of Gwinnett Church in Duluth, Ga., Pastor Louie Giglio encouraged novice pastors to practice their preaching style until they find personal perfection.
The most dangerous thing for a pastor to become, according to Giglio, is a replica of another pastor's preaching style, which could result in an ineffective, boring gospel being communicated to the congregation.
"You need to find your style of communicating and refine it and work on it until you are the Michelangelo of communicating for you," Giglio told Henderson, adding that often times he prepares his sermons three to nine months in advance of when they are delivered to his congregation.
Giglio, who is the pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Ga. and the founder of the global anti-slavery Passion Movement, went on to share that his ability to produce a creative sermon was preceded by the freedom he found once he figured out his pastoral identity.
"You are you; you're going to preach the best when you start preaching like you and stop preaching like someone else," Giglio added, cautioning pastors that their congregation will never get to know their pastor if their pastor is trying to replicate someone else.
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, church planter and pastor of Grace Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., echoed the sentiment of Giglio, saying that only practice and consistency can help a pastor find his own voice.
Additionally, Stetzer encouraged pastors to be conscious of effectively incorporating the word of God into their own voice, as opposed to just becoming a helpful adviser similar to television personalities Oprah or Dr. Phil. "When I started out preaching, I kept trying to be other people," Stetzer said, adding that the only way he broke the cycle of mimicking other pastors was by getting up on the pulpit and delivering his sermons "over and over again."
"Practicing, and the consistency of teaching, and finding your own voice [are very important]," Stetzer said.
"Starting out, I preached a lot of good advice instead of Bible teaching. At the end of the day, [I ask myself], how has the Bible been communicated through my message? How does Christ fit into this?" Stetzer said, adding that "what I'm communicating is Scriptures and Christ foremost."
Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash., expounded on the importance of a pastor finding his independent voice, saying that knowing one's identity opens the way for God to more effectively communicate His message. "If you listen to [other pastors] too much, pretty soon you're not who God intended for you to be," Driscoll said.
"It's God's truth through your voice, and if you listen to someone else too much you lose your voice," the megachurch pastor said.
Driscoll also advised pastors to not become their own biggest critic, and to not harp on mistakes they've made in the past.
"Give yourself some grace. It takes hundreds of hours to figure out who you are," Driscoll said, adding that the more services a pastor delivers during each weekend, the easier it will be to find his leadership voice.
The three pastors joined several prominent church leaders, including Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C.; and Andy Stanley, senior pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, Ga., in advising pastors on how to deliver better sermons through a web conference, which took place Wednesday and was hosted by The Rocket Company, a resource and coaching company aimed at helping churches grow and succeed.