Monday, March 11, 2013

The Millenial Sermon Dance

I'm studying the art of preaching from the rising millenial generation of preachers in our church plants and in other churches. There's a visual art to preaching today that is fascinating. It's the body language that attaches to the spoken language.

Here's how the dance goes:
  • Keep your elbows into your body, knees are often kept together too. Bend the knees slightly and when you get intense bend forward at the waist. This is the posture of humility. It lets your audience know you are not telling them (i.e., demanding, forcing, or dominating) but suggesting that what you have to say is something good and in the best interests of everyone, including yourself.
  • The basic foot movement is a triangle in a box. The triangle is the base and many preachers step forward, back, and to the side around the triangle, usually in one direction. Moving forward toward the audience is to draw attention to a point. Moving back releases people.
  • The box allows the preacher to move from side to side in the "engaged" position relative to the audience. You can step straight back into the relaxed position, step to the point of the triangle and into the basic movement, or if you're pulling your audience through your point you can two-step across the engaged position to capture the width of your audience.
Why is this physical presentation important? It's about connection. The millenial generation is a visually oriented generation. They live in a media-saturated world where video, images, and stage are ever present. This produces what could be called the "visual gate." When a millenial walks into a room they scan the room for the visual social cues that tell them whether this is one of their places or not.

This same visual gate is active in the sermon context. Before a millenial will give the speaker the "right to be heard" the speaker must visually present himself in a manner that respects the audience and connects with their value system.

If you want to see the "Millenial Sermon Dance" on video watch Francis Chan-The Thrill of Obedience and you'll see Chan use the dance as part of his communication strategy.

What have you noticed about the physical act of preaching in a millenial context? Please let me know: email me.

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