Richard Hurd

Scranton, PA

I have been performing musically, as a soloist or in various choirs and bands over the years, since before I can remember. I’ve been in a few plays in high school (Bangor). I was a music education major in college, but also a pastoral major. I’ve been a public school teacher (band and choral). I’ve always been on “stage” in church, in various dramatic roles, but mostly as the pianist or organist. So I know what’s it’s like to be “center stage” in a performance.

The thing is, I don’t think most people associate what a pastor does with a sermon is so similar to a stage monologue. Each week, you’ve got to come up with 20 to 30 minutes of “new material” and present it in a way that is both informative as well as keeping the audiences’ attention. I find doing a sermon much more difficult than doing a solo concert/recital. A recital, you have weeks or months to practice and polish the performance. A sermon you can work on a couple of weeks in advance (if you’re doing a series), but I have stepped into a pulpit with about 15 minutes notice. (How many people do you know could whip up a performance in an hour?). As a side note, substitute teachers sometimes get SECONDS to come up with a lesson plan and make it seem like it was planned.

I really don’t think teachers and pastors get the credit they deserve for standing up in front of people and coming up with “improv performances”on the fly. Even planned lessons and sermons can go horribly wrong. Not everyone can get up and speak in front of people, even when they have others prepare the material. Imagine coming up with your own material week after week, year after year, and then presenting it to a VERY critical audience.

I also know the other end of the “performance time spectrum”. I’m a sci-fi novelist. So I know what it’s like to spend years on a book, and then have no idea how the audience is reacting to my “work”.