The 3 Levels of Dynamic Preaching

By



Composing Music

Did you know that for musical arrangements, composers write more than just the notes to be played? They also write the strength with which each note should be performed.

These markings are referred to as the “dynamics” of music.

A composer might write a pp, meaning pianissimo or “very soft,” or a ff,meaning fortissimo or “very loud.” There are multiple marks all meant to tell the musician roughly how strong or soft a note is meant to be played.

These dynamic markings make all the difference in a song. The best songs do not stay at the same level.

The dynamics of all great songs rise and fall from the forcefulness of a shout to the gentleness of a whisper.

I believe that preaching is very similar.

Great preaching doesn’t stay on one level. Great preaching is vocally dynamic.

3 Levels of Dynamic Preaching

I believe that every preacher should have three levels of vocal dynamics.

  1. Normal
  2. Quiet
  3. Loud

This isn’t complicated, but it takes a lifetime to master.

Every preacher should work to get comfortable using each of these levels of vocal dynamics. Think of them as tools in your back pocket to pull out as needed for emphasis.

Normal is your base level. This is the level that you would normally talk in a room to ensure that someone sitting in the back row could still hear you.

Loud doesn’t exactly mean shouting. It is simply the loudest you are comfortable raising your voice to communicate power, passion, or urgency.

Quiet doesn’t exactly mean whispering. It is simply the quietest you are comfortable lowering your voice to communicate control, sincerity, or intimacy.

Both loud and quiet dynamics grab hold of the audience’s attention because of the contrast from your normal tone.

Think of these levels of dynamics as places you know you can go to stress or accentuate a critical point in your message.

For Example…

Most of your favorite preachers use these dynamics powerfully.

Imagine you are sitting in the audience of one of your favorite pastor’s church. The pastor takes the stage, the lights come up, and he begins speaking in a normal conversational voice.

As the message continues, he hits a powerful point in the sermon. His voice rises. Passion and a small sense of righteous anger bursts from his mouth.

Then, in a moment, he pauses. He leans forward. And in a gentle whisper, he reveals a profound truth.

Can you see it?

Vocally dynamic preaching is powerful. The volume of your voice makes all the difference in the power of your sermon.

A preacher who is only loud is a bully. A preacher who is only quiet is timid. And a preacher who is all normal is passionless.

It takes a variation of all three levels to communicate the sense of urgency and passion that the Gospel demands.

How to Get Better At Dynamics

If you want to improve the vocal dynamics of your preaching, try this.

Get on stage and practice with the microphone you normally use. Start from your normal volume level. Speak as if you are talking normally to the imaginary person in the back row. Play around with this if you want to until you find a comfortable range.

Now, start raising your voice slowly. Pretend you are trying to get the imaginary person in the back of the room who is hard of hearing to understand you. Practice speaking at different loud volumes until you feel that you are too loud. Settle on a volume level louder than your normal voice, but not too loud.

Finally, get really quiet. Lean forward. Pretend you are telling a secret to the imaginary person in the front row. Again, play around with your quiet tone until you find a level that is not too quiet to be understood clearly, but much softer than your normal volume.

This may feel a little forced, but until this comes naturally to you, you could even include marks like a composer on your sermon outline. Use ppfor quiet or a ff for loud (or maybe a Q and L).

Be intentional with the dynamics of your voice to keep your audience engaged, and communicate with power and passion.


Share With Your Friends…

Clip to Evernote
Send to Kindle
Print Friendly and PDF


Brandon Hilgemann About Brandon Hilgemann

Brandon has been on a nine-year journey to become the best preacher he can possibly be. During this time, he has worked in churches of all sizes, from a church plant to some of the largest and fastest growing churches in the United States. Brandon blogs his thoughts and ideas from his journey at ProPreacher.com.


  • Trent Renner

    Oh Lord…I must be getting old. Not sure why I even open my mouth like I’m about to. Brandon, your info is good. I get the “sound level dynamics” you refer to. It all makes sense. I apologize for not taking more time to verify, in your other posts, that you might have actually covered what I’m struggling with… after reading your post. I am a blogger too and I understand how challenging it is to say everything that needs to be said in just one blog post.

    I fearfully imagine the young preachers, who you inspire, feeding on this material. I envision hundreds of young preachers practicing what this blog asks of them to practice. That is all good. I am asking that you do a quick edit and post the next paragraph into your blog.

    “2 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.[a] 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

    ________________

    For the first time in 23 years, God has led me to a place where I find myself without a literal pulpit on weekends and sitting in the crowd looking for a home church, listening to preachers young and old as I shop for a community of believers I can become one with. It is an interesting practice to actually be forced to shut up and listen as a preacher.

    My searching and listening over the past year is revealing a faulty circuit in the sermon preparation of too many preachers. Pulpits all across America are loaded with great communicators who are fine tuned in the art of inflection, sound dynamics, great illustrations, humor, practical information, style, culture, and relevance.

    However…

    We don’t have to look very far to see the next man of God falling to sex, power, and/or money. Our fellow pulpit warriors are getting picked off by the sniper of a devil as they storm the hill for Jesus weekend and week-out.

    Why are they dropping so?

    I have the privilege of getting to talk to several of them after they have fallen. It is being revealed that they forgot a critical “practice” in their sermon prep and delivery.

    When prepping for a Sermon…many of them practiced regularly the things you reference in your post.

    They, in their prep time, took the word of God and practiced delivering it to people. Backed it all up with great illustrations, sound inflection, humor and even searched thesaurus’s for better words to get people to lean forward in the ‘pew’.

    They are great deliverers of the word. (Imagine a man taking his hand and picking up a hand full of scripture out of the Bible and tossing it to the audience.)

    This is the step that most preachers are great at. DELIVERY!

    What should be happening…

    (Imagine that same preacher now taking his hand and picking up a hand full of Scripture out of the Bible and FIRST delivering that hand full to his own heart…transforming his life and personal application of that Word! Then that Scripture…planted in his heart, making him holy and spiritually armored… traveling the long journey from his heart to his brain… Then that Scripture traveling from his brain to his tongue where He uses his fine tuned and practiced gift to inspire the audience to a deeper walk with the King of Kings.)

    The forearms length journey. Bible…up the forearm….to the heart.

    I have found that too many communicators get into their Bibles because they have to say something this weekend.

    I pray that many communicators will get out of that rut and let the Word of God get into them and inspire, sharpen, and refine them to a point where they are bursting at the seams and can’t wait to get up into that platform of a pulpit and speak what God is doing. The passionate evidence will be obvious to the listener.

    If I may be bold enough to change a critical line you typed in your post…I do so below…

    Be intentional NOT with the dynamics of YOUR VOICE…but with the dynamics of your personal walk with Jesus… to keep your audience engaged, and communicate with power and passion.

    I know you get this and might think it is a “duh” factor…but too many of kind are getting killed spiritually even as they are great and practiced communicators. You are influential.. and what you don’t say in your post is dangerous.

    Keep up your great work. Please understand that everything I have written above is spoken in gentleness and respect.

    I love preaching and preachers. It is a thinning group.

    • Final_Word

      Nailed it!

Receive Rick Warren's Weekly Toolbox Newsletter for FREE!

Like the content you see at pastors.com? Why not receive it weekly in your inbox, plus bonus material too. It's free!

  • Weekly wisdom from Pastor Rick Warren.
  • Helpful articles on every aspect of church leadership.
  • Practical insights to move you forward.
  • Occasional subscriber-only freebies.
Close This!


BONUS! Subscribe now and receive the free eBook, 7 Keys to An Effective Ministry, by Rick Warren.

We hate spam too, and will never sell your email or send you unwanted stuff.