Because of Covid-19 most pastors are preaching on-line. There are several things a biblical communicator should consider if they want to optimize the impact of internet preaching.
Here are 7 important considerations to improve on-line preaching:
Consideration 1: THE SETTING
Pastors are using a variety of preaching locations. Whatever setting is chosen it should be interesting but not distracting (beware a cluttered bookshelf). Good settings provide generous, evenly distributed frontal lighting that eliminates facial shadows. The camera should, minimally, capture both face and hands.
Consideration 2: THE CONNECTION
Preaching on-line provides an intimate connection between preacher and viewer. Lose the notes, speak from the heart. The camera should be at eye level and preachers should look into the camera as if looking into the eyes of the viewer. Sound should be natural and full not hollow or echoey.
Consideration 3: THE DURATION
Effective on-line preaching is shorter than in-person preaching. Listeners won’t walk out of a sanctuary but will turn off a computer. Capture the audience with a creative opener then hold them for 15-20 minutes. Additionally, some pastors use a TV monitor for key points or edit them onto the screen.
Consideration 4: THE TONE
On-line preaching should be more conversational than general format preaching since the preacher is speaking to an audience of one not a hundred. The vocal tone should have a lively normalness. Having said that, a sense of weightiness should remain. Generally speaking, standing is preferred to sitting.
Consideration 5: THE CLARITY
On-line sermons must be bullets not buckshot. They must be singularly focused. This is aided by minimizing the size of the preaching text. A single verse (or a few key verses) well considered is preferred to a full chapter of biblical text. A concise, well thought out illustration or two also adds light.
Consideration 6: THE APPLICATION
On-line listeners want to know how a sermon lands in their life. Create a direct connect between the biblical text and daily living during Covid-19. Demonstrate how the sermon applies to the lives of different individuals. Remember, as a wise pastor pointed out, we are in the same storm but different boats.
Consideration 7: THE GOSPEL
Every on-line sermon should highlight the hope found through faith in Jesus Christ. Remember that there may be viewers who have not heard of Jesus’ gift of the full life. Provide a concrete way for these viewers to respond to the Gospel and provide a path for next steps in the discipleship journey.
P.S. My thanks to Scott Vander Ploeg for a recent conversation that planted the seed for these reflections.