This Catholic Church Hired Actors to Teach Priests How to Be Better Public Speakers May 19, 2015

This Catholic Church Hired Actors to Teach Priests How to Be Better Public Speakers

Catholic masses are so famously boring, they’re often the butt of jokes. Now, a church in Detroit is trying to fix that by hiring a couple of professional actors to teach priests how to be more interesting during sermons:

For the last several years, actors Arthur Beer and Mary Bremer-Beer have conducted the three-week workshops at the seminary. The seminarians are taught how to project, how to control tempo, and how to master timing in order to deliver a Biblical truth or a laugh line.

The Catholic Church needs a little “wow” from its priests. Lousy sermonizing is one of the reasons cited by ex-Catholics for leaving the church. It’s why when Pope Francis ordained 19 priests a few weeks ago at the Vatican, he told them to make sure “that your homilies are not boring.”

Some Catholics leave the faith, said seminary instructor Paco Gavrilides “because they don’t experience being fed by the truth through the preaching ministry” and are “listening to evangelical preachers who are much more animated and … much more developed in their skills of communication.”

It’s hardly surprising that presentation matters as much as (if not more than) the actual content of the sermon. If you can say something with enthusiasm and charisma and confidence, people are going to listen to you no matter what nonsense you’re spouting. There’s a reason certain TV “psychics” and woo-peddlers are so successful: Not only do they sell hope, they do it with a flashy smile. Their victims have no idea they’re being played.

It’s also the reason so many people love Neil deGrasse Tyson — he’s a brilliant performer. (Thankfully, he has the added benefit of also being right.)

Hell, atheists and college professors (and everyone, really) would do well to take public speaking courses. I’ve seen *way* too many boring presentations over the years by people who think their material should be enough to win over the audience. It’s not.

This Church in Detroit deserves credit for recognizing that. Their message is already a losing one, but if they can make it sound more personal and interesting, it may prevent a lot of people from taking that last step out the door.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Jaynee for the link)


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