If God had intended that there should be no performance element in preaching, then he would have not got human beings to do the preaching. He would perhaps have got robots or some other computer technology. But God has determined in this age to bring forth His word through preaching. And preaching is undertaken by preachers.
It is my contention that there is a performance aspect in preaching. The word comes through a preacher to people and that preacher performs in front of them, God has ordained it this way. Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people (Hag. 1:13a) reflects something of what preaching is. And when a man is bringing forth this message he is performing before people. A message really does come through him.
We do have to be careful what kind of performance is manifest through. This is very important, because although the preacher is delivering the word to the congregation he does have a responsibility to make sure that his performance is of the right sort. Largely, the manner of the performance will be determined by the spiritual character of the preacher. If the flesh is controlling the man, then there will be a proud self-projecting manner to the preaching. If the Spirit is controlling the man then there will be a God-enabled performance.
How do we make sure that we have a God-enabled preaching performance? This is through God being in control of the preacher. Of course this means that the man must be a Christian. We can only begin to be of the Spirit by being a Christian. However, it must go further, the preacher must be in fellowship with the Lord. He will only be in such condition if he is a man of prayer. When a man is given to prayer he is given to God. This will be reflected in the mans performance.
Such a man will be a Spirit filled man and as he declares the Word there will be energy from the Lord being relayed; there will be passion. In any performance whether that be musical or dramatic, for the performance to have an impact there must be energy. This must be true in preaching as well. The manner with which the energy is conveyed will differ according to individual characters. Some preachers are more reserved and some are more ostentatious. Nevertheless, there must be energy.
Given the issues involved when we stand before people how can a preacher preach the Word without energy? To deliver that which bears upon life and death and not have some passion is a denial of what we are doing.
But, in saying all this may the Lord save us from the artificial performance that is just pure “acting a part”. Such is reprehensible in the pulpit. We must be genuine. We must be ourselves for the Lord in the service of bringing His word to people.