The Fam

The Fam
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Friday, August 26, 2011

How to give a sacrement meeting talk

It happens to all of us we get a phone call on Friday night from whatever Bishopric Counselor is conducting that month and they beg us to speak in Church the next Sunday.  They have no guilt in doing this because they know we wait until Saturday night after our kids go to bed before we even begin to think about writing a talk.  Here are a few guidelines and items that would be good to follow.  It will make your talk better, it will keep the congregation comfortable and avoid those pesky interviews about teaching false doctrine. 

1. If you are from Hawaii, you are entitled to force the congregation to scream "Aloha" at you. You preface it by saying, "I am from Hawaii, and over there, we greet each other by saying [this is the part where you yell really loud] 'ALOHA!'" And then everyone will yell it back at you, partly because you told them to, but mostly because they think it's kind of cool that they get to yell in church.  If you are from someplace other than Hawaii, you are NOT allowed to make the congregation yell whatever it is you would yell to each other back home. For example, you may NOT say: "I'm from south-central L.A., and back there we greet each other by saying 'Yo, yo, homey, whassup?'"

2. I know that the Bishopric member who called you and waited until the last moment, but that is no reason to blame him for your lack of preparation.  Don't make and excuse.  " I only found out two days ago I had to speak so bare with me if this is terrible"  You can do this if you are an accomplished public speaker and know it will be an awesome talk and you are simply looking for praise at the end of the meeting.  It all depends on what your motivators are.

3.  If he gave you plenty of time you could also start your talk by telling the story of how you got asked to speak.  I mean because none of the rest of us know how it works.  "When Brother So-and-So asked me to give this talk...." This is an official church policy. Every talk must begin with an amusing little story about how Brother So-and-So called you on the phone, and you thought, "Uh-oh -- I know what HE wants!" The congregation will be ever-so-delighted to hear of your nervousness, for they, too, have perhaps received ominous phone calls from that pesky Brother So-and-So.

4.  As much as your life has been fulfilled because they made 6 star wars movies.  And Yoda sits on the Jedi High Council and you are also on the Stake High Council (by the way not the same thing and no you are not a Jedi...or ninja) the Force and the Priesthood are not the same thing.  First of all they have light sabers we have little bottles of oil.  Comparing the two in sacrament meeting although very common and in some circles accepted (sorry Kyle) it is still not doctrinal.  Lets keep our  star wars references to a minimum my patawon learner. 

5. Remember the true purpose of giving a talk: to make people laugh.  We share a building with another ward.  We were in priesthood in the overflow next to the Chapel.  You know the ones with the really effective air wall to stop the sound from coming through.  And I don't know what speaker in Sacrament was talking about -- I couldn't make out his exact words -- but he was very animated, and had a great delivery, and he was absolutely KILLING the crowd. He was knockin' 'em dead. And it wasn't just one joke. It was one line after another, each laugh building on the last. Evidently, the fellow's brain told him he was at open-mike night at Chuckles Comedy Club and he had to work his act ("Listen folks, I wanna tell you -- you ever try that repentance thing? What's the deal with that?")

6. Remember that each sacrament meeting talk must have at least one quote from, or reference to, the book "Believing Christ" by Stephen E. Robinson. It is merely an oversight that 1) the book is not scripture yet, and 2) Brother Robinson is not a general authority yet. Quote from it, refer to it, base your whole talk around it. Even if there's no time to read any scriptures, make sure you get in some good "Believing Christ" quotes. One can never hear the Parable of the Bicycle too many times, after all, and I'm sure Brother Robinson is just THRILLED that his book has supplanted the use of scriptures in sacrament meeting talks. Doctrine who needs that this is way more fun and easy to understand.

7. Starting your talk with "I was asked to speak on _____ today"  The Bible dictionary defines ______ as."  Ok it gets your topic out there and frankly kills a minute or two of your 15 minutes assignment.  But really?  I know you have seen it done dozens hundreds of times.  I saw two people given the same topic in the same meeting and they both started their talks that way.  Just in case you were asleep the first time.  I would prefer to resort to point #1 and have the congregation yelling 'Yo, yo, homey, whassup!  That starting with this bad and overused beginning.

8. When quoting general authorities, refrain from mentioning which specific general authority it was, or in which general conference he said it. Merely say, "One of the general authorities -- I think it was one of the apostles -- said...." That whole "apostle" thing makes the quote sound more credible, and will cause the congregation not to realize that you are actually paraphrasing something that someone read out of a book at a zone conference once or from Believing Christ, and that you have no idea who originally said it, let alone whether it was an apostle, or even a member of the church.

9. Mumble, and never lift your head up from your notes.  That always makes for a good time.

10. If you have a personal experience that demonstrates the principle you are discussing, and which caused you to develop greater faith in that principle, and which may inspire others to greater heights of personal righteousness, refrain from sharing it. (For guidance on what kind of stories you SHOULD share, refer back to No. 5.) You don't want to sound like a know it all do you.

Much of this post was taken from an essay written by Eric D Snider that I received and added my own two bits too. 

1 comment:

  1. I don't need 'Believing Christ.' I gained my testimony from the Work and the Glory. At the time Gerald Lund wasn't a GA either. haha


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