Last Sunday we had a guest missionary speaker from Mexico. I had met him at a church event Saturday night, so I knew he was in town. I had not yet seen him, however, when the service began. None of our Cross-Cultural missions team seemed concerned, but the longer the service went on, the more uneasy I became. For the first part of worship, I admit I didn’t worship much. I sang the words, but my eyes were scanning the sanctuary. (We have a fan-shaped sanctuary so it is easy with a turn of the head to see 85% of the seats.) My thoughts went directly to the question: If I had to speak extemporaneously, could I? When I was in Toastmasters (a public speaking training club if you are not familiar with it) extemporaneous speaking was always my weak suit. As we approached the Lord’s Supper, I knew that the sermon was only 5-7 minutes away! Should/could I run and pull something out of my office? Should/could I speak extemporaneously? I turned to leave the auditorium to see what I could find, and there he was, sitting two rows behind me! He had been there all along!
I didn’t have to do it, but the question remains on the table…if I had to preach extemporaneously, could I? I am not so sure. This thinking was prompted by an entry in the blog Expositionalogistix re: Charles Spurgeon’s regular practice of extemporaneous preaching at one of his weekly services.
Matt quotes Spurgeon from his autobiography:
Ever since I have been in London, in order to get into the habit of speaking extemporaneously, I have never studied or prepared anything for the Monday evening prayer-meeting. I have all along selected that occasion as the opportunity for off-hand exhortation…
He then gives the rationale and preparation that he does for this. I would recommend Matt’s post.