Christian Media

Do You Suffer from “Pulpit Personality?”

Pastor Greg Laurie shared something with me recently that made me laugh.  He called it “pulpit personality.”  Essentially, pulpit personality is when a pastor or religious media personality talks in a different voice when they step into a pulpit, or on television when camera is turned on.  Everywhere else on television we see reality.

Love it or hate it, reality programming has left an indelible mark on the industry.  People now see what happens behind the scenes on HBO, they see “America’s Favorite Home Videos,” they see non-professionals on Youtube, and they watch the news 24/7 on cable.  So when you appear on your program with your “classic TV voice” it sticks out like a sore thumb.

You know who I’m talking about. Numerous ministry leaders who are gracious, authentic, and engaging when talking with friends over lunch. But turn on the camera, or step into the pulpit, and they become someone else. Radio personalities suffer the same thing when they get in front of a microphone.

The television commercial business is a great example of the change. National spots used to be narrated by men with powerful voices.  Deep voices that resonated with power and authority.  But listen to a commercial today.  More often than not, it sounds like a regular guy – or woman.   The advertiser knows the connection doesn’t come from a perfect voice, but from the sound of someone like you and me.
Sometimes you’ll hear name actors, but in most cases, they’re hired not because of the quality of their voice, but because their voice is recognizable.

Watch regular television and listen to the difference. Stop trying to be bigger than life.  Be real.  Speak normally.  It doesn’t make you more anointed or powerful when you try to sound like God.  Talk like everyone else, and you’ll be amazed at the connection.

The “over the top” era is done.

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12 Comments

  1. When I catch myself doing this, I loathe it and reverse course as aggressively as possible. I call it "speaking ministerially." You rock on your feet and say "Gawhud" a lot.

  2. The word that applies:  "Ye know not what spirit ye are of." 

     Thus, pulpit personalities preach the word… uhm, while conveniently ignoring… the word.

     Is it a problem?  Well, the fake pulpit voice is actually a spirit, a spirit not necessarily of God.  It allows false dogma to be preached with seeming impunity.

     However, once a truth-seeker starts connecting these dots… the dots of false voice…. to false doctrine… false doctrine to teaching lies… from lies to extortion… well, then such a person’s blogs don’t last long… do they? 

     But looking at false voices… is a big start!  Do not despise small beginnings!

  3. I used to see this kind of thing years ago with a pastor friend of mine from a predominantly Bible Belt denomination. He was Hispanic and had kind of a Mexican-American accent until he got in the pulpit where he affected a Southern accent, probably unconciously mimicking his ministry teachers.

  4. Some of it comes from having to project your voice for others to hear you. Even with a microphone if you are not close to it you have to raise your voice quite a bit for it to be amplified properly. 

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