The Worship Quote of the Week for (09/14/2004):

A Natural Tone of Voice
Last week’s quotation looked at the importance of the words we use in Christian worship (see Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE goes a step further by discussing the way those same words are presented. Authors Derek Prime and Alistair Begg are writing to pastors, but these words apply to all who lead in corporate worship.

We should aim at naturalness in the manner in which we speak in public. The voice we use in the pulpit should be the same voice we use out of it. We ourselves may be unaware of any difference. It is wise to ask someone whose honesty we can rely upon to tell us if our voice and its whole tone differ in public speech from how they are in private. This may be especially the case in public prayer. We may not notice it readily in ourselves, but if we reflect upon our listening to others we will be aware in some cases of a definite “leading others in prayer” voice. There will always be some difference between our voice in conversation and our voice raised and projected in order to make what we say clearly heard, but it is the artificial or assumed voice we must avoid—the ecclesiastical tone that can be so easily caricatured.

Some voices are easier to listen to than others. What we say may be as well prepared and worthwhile as what someone else says, but not so effectively conveyed because of our voice. Having said this, we recognize the sovereignty of God the Holy Spirit who can use us in spite of all our weaknesses. But where we can help ourselves to be better communicators, then obviously we should.

—Derek Prime & Alistair Begg, from ON BEING A PASTOR: UNDERSTANDING OUR CALLING AND WORK (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2004), 204, ISBN 0-8024-3120-8. This is a revised and expanded version of Derek Prime’s PASTORS AND TEACHERS, 1989.

[These words of wisdom apply not only to the spoken word, but also to most of our sung communication. Congregational singing is not always at its best when it is triumphant and exhilarating. Sometimes our sung prayer has more authenticity if it is done with a quieter “voice,” a softer accompaniment, and a sense of space. These kind of musical decisions require a healthy measure of pastoral wisdom.]

Have a great week.

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

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