3,000 sermons later: a pastor talks about speaking

Wondering where God intersects with mathematics and metaphor? Tim Carson has a book for you. Feeling overcome with emotion but unable to speak about it? Tim Carson has a hug for you.

One morning in church, the congregation struggled to sing a hymn that had words in an African language. We mumbled and mouthed our way through. Then from the back of the sanctuary, a rolling voice rang out and sang with confidence. In an instant, all of us could sing the song. We raised our voices and our volume increased from 3 to 11. This is the power of Tim Carson, who builds up hundreds of people in his roles as pastor, musician, author and friend.

A strong voice strengthens everyone else. Someone has to be bold enough to start the conversation and bring up ideas. This gives you a starting point to define where you stand.

Whether he’s singing out or speaking up, Tim has one of the strongest voices of anyone I know. I sat down with him to talk about how to make an impact.


He first revealed you need to have commitment to what you’re saying. Only speak about things that are dear to you. If you don’t believe, then no one else will. You can’t pretend passion.

“There’s a part of you that fears social disapproval but then there’s another part that says, ‘Am I going to be true to myself or not?’ It’s integrity vs. fear,” he said.


He next talked about recognizing the affinity. Why has this group gathered? They wouldn’t be there unless they all cared.

If you speak on a regular basis to people you know, then you have a chance to have a deeper exchange. He said it’s a comforting relationship with the congregation because they are friends he sees every week.


Tim then told me the most important part for a powerful talk: focus. If you focus, engage and lift your spirits before you say a word, you ensure that you are heard once you start speaking.

Remind yourself to focus your energy before you begin. If you’re a believer, this the time you whisper a prayer to God and ask the Holy Spirit to flow through you.

In Tim’s case, his Sundays at Broadway Christian Church are busy. With an hour of Christian education plus three different services in one morning, he relies on this prayer while waiting to give his third sermon in a row.

If you lose your stride in a talk, you can regain your focus in two ways: a cue word or a focal point. You might tell yourself “Focus” or use a reset object in the room. A former high school football player, Tim mentioned how football games require maximum focus for about 30 seconds from snap to huddle. A football player looks at the goal post and says, “Reset.” In that moment, all that has gone before is history.

Keep your mind in the present and forget any mistakes.


He illuminated his art as a speech designer. Because the launch can be the hardest, be careful about what you do in the first minute. You can start in a provocative way such as asking a series of questions without giving the answers. Connect with your audience and build the energy.

During a longer talk, you need to include meaningful pauses that give people space to gather their thoughts and energies.  Ask your audience to concentrate for a while and then give them a moment to absorb the ideas or feelings. Try making the pause explicit, saying, “Let’s take a minute to think about that.”

Taking it to the streets

Raise your voiceI appreciate Tim’s wisdom to commit, connect, focus and pause.

I’ll apply his advice to not only to my speaking, but to my personal conversations, my writing and my daily life. This week, I’ll remind myself to focus. We live in a world often scattered, distracted and rushed. If we were more present, how much richer would our relationships be?

Read Tim’s blog at vitalwholeness

What spoke to you in this post? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!