Speak up!

Utilizing your voice in the pulpit.

LOUIS F. CUNNINGHAM, Retired Minister

A minister's congrega­tion is made up of peo­ple whose needs vary. One listener cannot be counted on to receive the same blessing as another from the same sermon, but all may be helped to some degree. They have a right to expect that.

In every large group there are some who love the message and whose hearts are receptive.

They listen attentively, but more often than should be, they receive little to encourage them to return. But they do return, and they are faithful, and they give liberally—and they are still overlooked.

This is the sizable group of believers whose hearing is impaired and not as acute as the average. They observe the preacher and are sure he is full of his subject. No doubt it is uplifting, for others are attentive and responsive. These neglected ones feel that the Spirit of God is present, and for that they are grateful. But, try as they may, they cannot hear what is being said, or at best they hear only snatches of the sermon. What they hear may be good, but it is not connected—not for them. How pitiful it is to see them as they hang their heads, hop­ing that their disappointment will not be noticed and also that it will not be this way next time.

Investigation Helps

Now and then it might be helpful for the minister to ask one or two of the hard of hearing privately whether they are able to hear him. They usually appreciate such consideration. There are churches equipped with personal hearing aids. These are a benefit, but the hearing of some is not so badly impaired. They are able to hear some ministers quite well, but others only with difficulty, or scarcely at all. Here, then, is a problem that some preachers should take to heart. For these disappointed ones have souls to be warmed and fed. They, like others, look forward to the Sabbath service with the hope that they will be strengthened anew for the cares of another week

Ample Capacity

More likely than not the minister who fails in this respect has ample capacity. He is physically equipped to be heard, since he does not need to shout his message. Actually, loudness for its own sake may do more harm than good. If the speaker will project his voice at the beginning of the sermon by focusing on someone in the back pew, the volume will be automatically set to the need. Even where an amplifier is used, the hard of hearing will say that they want the words to be distinct. This means that the mouth will open with the lips flexible for sharp and clear enuncia­tion of every syllable. The rate will not be too fast or too irregular. The volume may vary some, but it should not fade as the minister nears the end of the sentence.

These simple suggestions are not enough for those with serious speech difficulties. Few if any of our workers are in that category. But that there is room for improvement there is no doubt. The conse­crated servant of God will want his study. his prayers, and his words to bear fruit. And he will seldom find a more appreciative listener than the hard-of-hearing worshiper, who rejoices that his minister has some­thing to say and says it in a way to be heard by those who listen a little harder than the rest.

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LOUIS F. CUNNINGHAM, Retired Minister

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