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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Ask the Matriarch - Inspiring Preaching

When I was discerning God's call to pastoral ministry, my only models for preaching were men. My seminary preaching professor was male. My internship supervisor was male. It took me quite a while to find female models who helped me discover my preaching voice. Today some of those who inspire me most are members of this blogring!

Was this true for you? It is for the woman whose question we address this morning:

I'm sending this with some hesitation, as I'm neither a Rev nor a blogger. I am an avid reader, and I suppose I'm something like a Baptist lay-preacher. (ie, I'm not ordained but I preach regularly in my local Baptist church.) I've been doing so for the last 4 or 5 years, but I'm still working on findng my voice, and it recently struck me that I'm short of role-models. In particular, currently I'm the only member of our church's preaching team not to be retired. (I'm in my 40s.) And I don't have much opportunity to hear other women preach, or other non-retired people preach.

I suspect though that there is a lot of great stuff out there. So, who would the matriarchs suggest that a 40-something lay-preacher in search of her voice reads/listens to/watches ?

Ruth, who blogs at "Sunday's Coming", offers this:

Anna Carter Florence is wonderful – as a preacher, as a writer, and as a speaker on the subject of preaching.
I heard her ‘live’ at a festival of preaching earlier this year and she was fantastic.

You can catch her on Youtube:

And she is very internet savvy and has interesting things to say about that:

One of her great ideas is involving other people in opening the text in preparation for sermon-delivery on Sunday...I’ve tried it, it works!

I’m sure others will give other suggestions!

Muthah+, who blogs at Stone of Witness, adds:

Dear Preaching Sistah,
Whether you are ordained or not, you have been called to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. I am somewhat like you, I really hate to be away from my congregation on a Sunday, but perhaps it would be good for you to take some time away from your home community to feed yourself on women's preaching.

Find a couple of women preachers in your area--it doesn't matter what denomination, just to listen to how other women use their voices. Listen to how they bring their own conceptions to the fore. It is good to hear preachers you DON'T like so that you can get an idea of what you don't want to be, too. Tell the preacher before the service, if you can, that you are a visiting preacher who is trying to expand your vision of preaching. Take some notes during the service if you can do it without being intrusive.

I was one of the early women ordained in my denomination and I too needed to hear the women's voice used well. I was lucky enough to be in a town that had an organization of women ministers. Their collegiality was very important to how I began to understand my own vocation.
Read women authors, watch them on TV. I can't stand the theology of Joyce Meyer but I LOVE her delivery! I am sure there are women on Youtube. Pretty soon your voice and your conviction about what God wants you to say will come. And most of all stay true to what God wants you to preach--not what is politically correct. As a woman, you will NEVER be politically correct and a Baptist preacher!:-) But speak as the woman you are and what the Spirit is telling you of the God we all love.
And welcome to this clan of crazy women who believe that God has called them to teach the love of Jesus.

And from thereverendmom:

See if this link takes you to the channel ClergywomenPreaching that I created. It has about 40 some clips of clergywomen mostly preaching some just speaking.

Please add your own discoveries - name and/or links to video clips.

And please send your questions to

May you live in God's amazing grace+


  1. Can't find the YouTube channel referenced, unfortunately.

    Am also a 40-something woman preacher (Episcopal priest) who doesn't get to hear too many other women preaching right now, though I've been blessed to in other periods of my formation.

    Am glad to be reminded of YouTube as a resource for those of us who want to work on our preaching and hear other preachers. Have subscribed to the Working Preacher channel.

  2. "Birthing the Sermon: women preachers on the creative process" edited by Jana Childers is an excellent book that did a lot for me in my on-going process of finding my voice. Hmmmm...I might just re-read it myself!

  3. You could check seminary websites - some stream their chapel services (Luther Seminary in St. Paul does this). Archives are available. Personally, I find that just listening to good preaching - regardless of the gender of the preacher - makes me a better preacher myself.

  4. For reading (I've never heard them in person), some of my favorite are Fleming Rutledge, Barbara Brown Taylor and Marva Dawn. Perhaps coming from a different place theologically than you are (though maybe not), but strong female preachers who have found their voice.

  5. thanks for this quote. I had a long response but Blogger ate it. :P


  6. I'm the person who asked the question and I just wanted to say thanks to the Mariarchs and others who took the trouble to reply for the ideas, advice and above all encouragement. I like the title of the "Birthing the sermon" book as I've thought for a while that childbirth is the only other experience I've had that comes close.

    thanks and blessings to all.



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