Preachers, Planters, Proclaimers
Statistics show that the majority of individuals have a huge phobia toward the practice of public speaking. It has even been said that more people fear public speaking than who fear death. This method of communication involves an underlying fear of judgment and a perceived negative evaluation from others. Despite all these things, church planters often believe they are great at public speaking! They willingly dive into the opportunity to speak to a crowd, large or small. However, it can be much more difficult to effectively communicate with those smaller crowds.
Different people are built to communicate better in different environments. Some people are better at speaking to larger crowds. Often in a new church plant, though, the group you are speaking to will likely be small. As a result, you must learn how to speak effectively to a smaller gathering of people comprising your church.
Tools for Your Toolbox
Your church is coming hungry, waiting for you to give them exposition of the Word. They don’t need you to entertain them. Knowing the people in your crowd can present more challenges than speaking to a mere group of strangers. You may be wondering how each of them is interpreting your words, afraid you may be wasting their time, or even sidetracked by their distraction from their cell phones. No matter what you’re up against, here are five pointers for preaching to those smaller assemblies of believers.
1. Learn to preach to those present
God has purposely placed before you individuals who need to learn the Word. During your sermon prep, think of the people who will be there and how you can preach directly to them amidst their current seasons of life. (This requires knowing your people on a deeper level.)
2. Allow feedback
When preaching to a really small crowd, have moments in the sermon that include a time of interaction. This could even be a Q&A session at the end of your sermon. Don’t be afraid to open this space from the pulpit as you grow in the area of preaching to your people.
3. Be yourself
If you put on a whole different “preaching personality,” it can be off putting in the grand scheme. Authenticity will help you connect with a smaller crowd. Let them see the real you as you teach about the real God, just as you hope to engage the real them with His gospel.
4. Turn down the energy
If God has ordained a crowd of this size, He wants to do something with this crowd. You do not have to manufacture a different kind of energy. Allow the atmosphere of the room to be engaged with organically; the Lord is already present among His people. Meet Him there and have His people join you.
5. Feed the sheep
2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and teaching.” No matter the size of the crowd in front of you, you are charged with feeding the sheep. Faithfully continue to teach the Word to those who have shown up. Be ready as God has called you to be, planting seeds as you go.
Adapted from the New Churches Podcast Episode 645: Preaching to Small Crowds. Listen to more episodes here.
Published August 2, 2023