We always knew preaching was hard work. At last, there’s some evidence to prove it.
Harold Freeman, professor of preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, is currently conducting a study of the physiological effects of preaching on the human body.
According to a report in Southwestern News, early results of the study indicate a preacher’s heart typically beats 50 percent faster while he’s preaching than when he’s at rest (unless he’s resting in front of a TV watching Charlie’s Angels reruns, I would assume). That kind of increase in heartbeat rate is similar to what is experienced while exercising or undergoing other strenuous physical activity.
I’m not sure what conclusions Freeman draws, but I can already think of some things I plan to do with this data.
For one thing, I’m going to have a great excuse to avoid mowing the lawn on weekends.
“But dear,” I will remind my wife with great concern in my voice, “I can’t take on that much physical activity when I’m getting ready to preach. You know how much stress that puts on my heart!” I like this study already.
And the next time my wife encourages me to begin a regular exercise program, I can quickly remind her that I already undergo a thorough cardiovascular workout three times a week — every time I step in the pulpit. (You fellows who only preach once a week may have to get on the exercise bike or take on more guest speaking engagements.)
The implications are only limited by your imagination. For example, when the budget committee begins meeting next year, you’ll want to remind them of the strenuous physical nature of your job (that ought to be good for some kind of salary supplement, don’t you think?). You certainly can’t be expected to carry tables and chairs to church fellowships and such; it’s dangerous to overdo exercise when preaching is already giving your heart such a workout.
Who knows? We may need to add cardiologists to the staff at our denominational headquarters before it’s over.
Personally, I look forward to reading the final results of Freeman’s study. Once and for all, here’s final proof that I really do put my heart into my preaching.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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