As part of a training I am going through these weeks, our class is going to be tasked with delivering three small sermons. The first will be manuscripted, the second will be outlined, and the third will be – if memory serves – extemporaneous.
Merriam-Webster defines ‘extemporaneous’ as “composed, performed, or uttered on the spur of the moment.”
What could be more dangerous? Speaking off the cuff is risky business. But then it is also a potentially rewarding business to learn how to do it well, because it has more of a believable quality to it.
When I go down to the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee in the morning and see my sons sitting there at the dining room table, I do not pull a script from my pocket to bid them ‘good morning.’ I improvise.
When I go to work and my boss greets me on my way through the door, I cannot ask him to wait while I refer to my outline – not if I want to escape a queer look.
Then again, the habit of scripting and outlining can go a long way to improving the quality of our communication when we have no choice but to improvise. How we script ourselves and edit ourselves can carve meaningful channels of discipline and the organization of information into our brains which are still there when someone surprises us with an unplanned conversation or opportunity to speak.
Any way you slice it, I am excited. If I say something dumb, okay. What else is new? Now let us fix it. And if I say something helpful, great! Let me know that was helpful so I can keep the good stuff coming like that.
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