MINISTRY OF PROCLAMATION
By Bishop Randy Barnett
STANDING IN THE PULPIT
The pulpit is indeed a sacred place. Even though this is true, we see that it is filled with fallible men and women, (like you
and me) to which we can all attest. Nonetheless, these are the ones who are called by God to occupy the pulpit and
these are they who are anointed to be there. Theirs is a heavy weight of responsibility to deliver exactly what is in the
heart of God for that time and that place and that people. The minister who is assigned the task of proclaiming the truth
must know what is in the heart of God for that meeting and he must be certain to deliver it accurately.
THE SEASON OF PREPARATION.
I want to discuss the days and hours prior to ministry; I refer to this as the season of preparation. The servant of God will
most often discover what God desires to say to His people during this season of preparation. However, it behooves the
proclaimer to be in the Spirit while in the pulpit to hear with utmost sensitivity how to deliver the message in that very
hour and whether to move in one direction or another as He leads. This is a developed ability over time, so do not
become discouraged if you “miss it” from time to time. Learn from your mistakes and build upon them, just don’t dwell on
them and allow them to hinder you in future ministry.
Let’s discuss the use of sermon notes. It is my strong belief that the pulpit minister must not be tied unnecessarily to the
notes to his sermon. Sermon notes are not wrong to use, I use them, but too much reliance upon them tends to distract
the minister from hearing the voice of the Spirit giving little room for revelation outside of what is in the notes. He is
actually “hearing” his notes rather than hearing God.
Proper preparation during the season of preparation is the key. This involves a total filling with the revelation that is to
be taught. The minister fills himself to overflowing with verses and passages on the subject at hand; he becomes
intimately acquainted with these truths. In fact, there is such an effort at knowing them they literally permeate his being
and guide his thoughts. When you get to that point in your season of preparation, you know you are ready to deliver the
good Word of the Lord to the people and it will be done with accuracy and in the might of His power. It will be that the
Holy Spirit draws from that well that is within you the life-giving waters of truth for His people.
I find that there are three types of sermon notes I have used over the years. There are research notes, pulpit notes, and
handouts for the congregation. Each of these has its place and its purpose.
Research notes are the most important type of sermon notes. These notes may include everything from chicken
scratches made on a napkin from a restaurant to a set of in-depth exegetical notes complete with original language
references. These notes are made during Bible study, prayer, and research on the subject that God has laid upon your
heart. I do not recommend using these notes in the pulpit since they are usually voluminous and unwieldy. These notes
form the foundation of knowledge for you.
Pulpit notes are a digestion of what you have discovered during research and study. There have been times when 10-15
pages of my research notes were condensed down to a mere half page on which a list of simple truths is found and that
is what I took with me to the pulpit. These notes are designed to reflect the main points of the message along with
specific information and scripture references needed to deliver the message. If I may, I want to offer a word of
suggestion to you. I feel it is wise to type these pulpit notes if possible. I have found that when I type them this additional
act of review further enhances the content of the revelation. Besides that, notes that are typed are much easier to read
when in the pulpit.
Handouts of your sermon are a wonderful enhancement to your message. The benefits to these notes to the hearers is
great. Not only can they follow along as the message is delivered (making it clearer to them) but they take the notes
home to further study what was delivered in the worship service. This makes good sense and is something that is
appreciated by most folks. If you do this, be sure these notes are done with excellence, and proper grammar and
accurate punctuation is used. Remember: these documents reflect the excellence level of your ministry as well as the
excellence level of our Lord Jesus Christ. If needs be, use someone to edit these who is adept at English, Tagalog, or
Spanish, or whatever language you are using.
CONNECTION WITH THE CONGREGATION.
The pulpit is a higher place spiritually than the pew. The anointing flows, as it were, down from the Throne through the
pulpit to the pew. Even though this is an accurate portrayal of what happens, the minister must not be viewed by the
congregation as separated from them or as some super-spiritual giant with whom they have difficulty identifying.
The most effective ministry happens when people
identify closely with the proclaimer.
This is why we must be careful to make connection with the people while ministering. Connection involves things that
accompany the proclamation of the Word. These things aid in the receptivity of the Word by the hearers.
Connection happens on purpose. The minister chooses to reach out to the congregation using the various means
available to him. The first and most obvious is when the people sense a genuine love for them through smiles, touching,
direct eye contact, and even proximity to them. I often dismount the platform (if there is one) and move down to where
the people are. I often greet people I know from the pulpit, naming them by name. This draws not only those people to
me, but also the entire crowd. Or, I may reach out and shake someone’s hand sitting on the front row or lay my hand upon
their shoulder. These acts of love connect me with the people, as though the recipient is the representative of the
I want to get close to the people of God so I can receive the anointing that is upon them, which helps me do my job, and
they in turn can receive the anointing that is upon me. In some scenarios this casual approach is not appropriate, but
generally speaking it is an effective tool of proclamation. The Spirit will guide you in this regard, just listen to Him.
Connection strengthens and enhances the flow of the message because it helps to remove obstacles (or perceived
obstacles) that might otherwise prevent the people from receiving the truth. God has put it in the hearts of His people to
esteem His chosen ones who labor in the Word. They desire closeness with their shepherd and with other fivefold
ministers whom he allows to minister to them, so getting close to them is a good thing. A spiritual intimacy is formed
especially within a local church family which makes it even more important to bridge the ministerial gap to connect with
the saints when proclaiming truth.
It is good to make a strong connection early in the service. This sets the stage for a higher level of receptivity and tends
to help open their minds and hearts to the Word that will follow. Maintain that contact throughout the delivery until the
very end of the worship service; this will help to insure they will get the most out of the message and the “take-home
value” of the message will be greater. You will even find the worship experience to be more fulfilling not to mention
Connection is good and necessary; however, it must happen at the right time. I personally do not recommend verbal or
physical contact with others just prior to the worship service if at all possible. This needs to be a time of isolation so as
to protect the anointing needed to do the work at hand. It is the time of intimacy with God and spiritual preparation for
the proclaimer. The challenge is this, people have needs and this will cause them to seek out the man or woman of God
whenever and wherever possible, and this is good; however, such personal ministry can wait until the appropriate time,
for example when the Spirit of God is moving in power within the context of the worship service. This is when God has
ordained for that to happen in and around the worship experience. At other times during the week make yourself
available to saints and sinners alike, in this way God’s anointing is there for them through you.
USE YOUR MINISTRY OF HELPS PEOPLE.
The Body of Christ is a wonderfully designed creation composed of many body parts. You advance the Church when you
allow each body part to function. One way this happens is to learn to use those who are called by God to the ministry of
helps. These people should handle certain matters of crowd control and even diverting well-meaning Christians from
approaching the servant of God at the wrong times; they shield you from untimely contact. This last thought is yet one
more aspect of doing all things decently and in order in the Church, which must always be on our minds.
Now please allow me to address several issues that do not seem spiritual, at least on the surface, but indeed have an
impact on whether or not your time in the pulpit is profitable and fruitful.
USE OF YOUR VOICE.
Your voice is the voice of God for this hour. You must use it wisely and with grace and strength. Your voice should draw
people to Jesus. The way it sounds can either accomplish this or it can deter them from receiving. If it is abrasive or
repelling for some reason it will work against what you are trying to do. Be mindful of the inflections of your voice.
Generally speaking, you should speak in a natural tonality and volume which is easier on the ears of those ordained to
receive from you. It should not be perceived as forced or stressed since these tend to make reception more difficult.
There are times of excitement and volume in your voice for the sake of emphasis. At such times your words are
delivered powerfully and with gusto in order to move the people forward and upward. Please remember that it is the Holy
Spirit who will dictate how you speak and with what level of fervor.
Proper diction and good grammar should be prerequisites to pulpit ministry. We no longer exist in a social environment
where unlearned men can reach the masses effectively. For the most part I find this to be true as I minister in
developing nations as well. The world now is a sophisticated place that demands excellence and a higher level of
correctness than previous generations. Make every effort to refine your diction and grammar, widen your vocabulary,
and remove vocal idiosyncrasies that might distract from the people’s ability to receive from God through you.
Of course we know that God can even use a donkey through which He can speak. Jesus chose unlearned men to be His
mouthpieces, men whose backgrounds were anything but refined or educated. From these facts we see that God does
select His servants based upon their speaking ability or education. My admonitions in this regard do not negate this fact;
however, just because a man is called to the ministry who has no formal training or education does not diminish the
need he has to improve and master the art of speaking so as to enhance the ministry to which he is called. Each of us
should always be about learning and growing and maturing, especially in regards to the work of proclaiming the good
Word of the Lord.
Your physical appearance in the pulpit deserves careful consideration. I am reminded of a particular evangelistic
meeting I attended one evening in which I noticed how a minister’s body language distracted from the anointing in the
house. This man was anointed by God for the task at hand, there was no doubt; however, he incessantly paced back and
forth, back and forth, in the same rhythmic pattern on the platform. This hindered his ability to do the work to which he
was called because it distracted the hearers from the Words of life they needed. Be mindful of your own patterns of
movement, facial expressions, and even gestures; this will be helpful in assuring that you will not hinder what God
needs to do right then through you.
I recommend that you critique yourself by using video recording. See what others see when they watch you minister.
This may be an eye-opening event for you, it was for me. It revealed some things to me that I was doing of which I was
unaware. The flow of the anointing went to a higher level after I remedied some little items in my demeanor.
One word of caution here: Do not fall into the error of comparing yourself with other ministers. They are who they are and
you are who you are. Each is needed by God to do different tasks. You possess a unique set of traits useful to the Lord,
so rejoice that you have been blessed – just be yourself and things will go better for you.
Just like your voice and body language, such things as your clothing can even affect your ministry in the pulpit. You are
front and center and most things about you will be obvious to those in attendance. Be careful in this regard just as in the
other matters we have discussed. Dress for the occasion. Suitable attire should cause you to fit in with those around
you. For example, when I minister in the tropical areas of the world, I do not wear a three-piece suit and tie. I don’t even
tuck in my shirt. Why? It is because I am in a place where other styles of garments are the norm and I feel the need to be
like the Romans when in Rome, so to speak.
I remember the first time I held pastors conferences in the Philippines years ago. My hostess, who was our ministry’s
missionary to that nation, made our first stop after landing there at an upscale shopping mall in Manilla. She took me to
an exclusive department store to pick out suitable attire for the meetings we had scheduled. She knew exactly what she
wanted me to wear since she lived there. We selected a beautiful beige shirt with exquisite embroidering on it. All I knew
was that it was a handsome shirt and quite expensive. What it actually was is the equivalent to a tuxedo in our nation. I
was styling that day! Looking back, perhaps that was not the best choice of attire for me because the minister should not
be over-dressed nor too casual, for indeed either can potentially distract from the message. We had powerful
outpourings of the Holy Spirit in those meetings, so the attire proved not to be a negative factor. But looking back, I
would have made another choice just for wisdom’s sake, which would have been to wear a barong comparable to those
Remember: you are an ambassador of the Most High God and your appearance should speak of that high and royal
position to which you are called. Your clothing should always be clean, neatly pressed, and worn with neatness. Shoes
should be shined and well-maintained.
Ladies in the pulpit should dress modestly and in good taste. Be careful to draw attention to Jesus and not to yourself by
dressing in clothing that is gaudy, sensual, or in other ways distracting. I do not prescribe a dress code but rather I
encourage you to be led by the Holy Spirit in all things and be mindful of acceptable fashion and cultural requirements.
Lastly, be mindful of your personal grooming. Unkempt hair, poorly shaved face, body odor, bad breath, un-brushed
teeth, dirty finger nails are all things inconsistent with proper decorum for the man or woman of God. They are contrary
to effective ministry and should be avoided.
Allow me to close this lesson with this simple admonition:
Let us walk in a manner worthy of our calling!
Questions on Lesson #4
1) The minister who is assigned the task of proclaiming the truth must _______________ _______________________.
2) Proper preparation involves a ______ _______ with the revelation that is to be taught.
3) The Holy Spirit draws from the well of truth within the minister the _________________ waters of truth for the people.
4) What are the three types of sermon notes and what is the purpose for each?
5) Explain the phrase “contact with the people.”
6) Explain the importance of proper use of your voice in ministering.
7) Explain the importance of body language in ministering.
8) Explain the importance of your personal presence in ministering.