Good to great: Speaking how you speak, not how you write

  • James Harricks
  • 24 October 2016

Meet Jon. Jon is a great pastor. He really is. He loves Jesus. He loves people. He is intelligent. He is witty. He is calm under pressure. He leads Bible study well. Not only does he tell people he will pray for them, he actually does! But after four years of paid full-time vocational ministry, Jon is still battling with a key part of his work as a pastor. His preaching just isn’t where he wants it to be. And if his church is honest, it isn’t quite where they would want it to be, either.

It is not his exegesis. He has clearly spent hours in the books. He has translated the Greek, he has read the commentaries, he has cross-checked what Calvin has to say. And it isn’t the length of his sermon. He has read Saving Eutychus, and doesn’t want to be the guy who kills a parishioner! Yes, he is a 20-minute man through and through. But something isn’t quite right.

Here is the problem: when he speaks, it feels like he is reading an essay, rather than talking to people. The words are always good. The logic is always sound. It is just… well, let’s be honest… a bit boring!

Jon has spent many, many years in academic institutions. Four years of undergraduate study, four years at Bible college, and now he is two years into a post-graduate theological degree. He has written as many essays as he has had hot lunches (or at least that is what it feels like).

But there is a cost. When it comes to writing a talk, he just isn’t equipped. Reading out a 3000-word essay each Sunday just doesn’t cut it. He doesn’t sound like ‘him’, and it just doesn’t grab people’s attention. It is overly formal and a bit obtuse.

Then, one day, Jon clicks on one of those annoying Facebook ads. And for the first time ever, Mr Zuckerberg has delivered something really useful. Two words: dictation software. Specifically, Dragon dictation software. Sure, it is expensive, almost $200, but he imagines all the time he will save. He does his homework, reads all the reviews. There are some other great options, but he takes the plunge and makes the purchase.

And straight away everything changes. He has a massive breakthrough. All of a sudden his sermon suddenly sounds like him. As he talks out his talk, it has an integrity and personality that just sounds right.

And it gets better. As he hoped, his preparation time has been reduced, particularly as he never took that touch-typing course in primary school. Then he realizes that this will be great for his friend who has dyslexia and spends inordinate amounts of time trying to type out a sermon each week—another church gets a better-equipped leader.

Listen to Jon. Learn from Jon. Dictation software: try it out.