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I sang with a Methodist choir for a year, attending their services whenever we sang. The senior minister was an enthusiastic preacher, and man, did he know his stuff. That Ph.D. in Theology was not a waste of time. It was always a challenge for me to attend an LDS service right after, because it did not contrast well.

Funny, though, how we see what we're looking for; I had an LDS friend attend FUMC's Christmas Eve service and she was taken aback by Dr. Horton's preaching style. She found it very off-putting. He was at his most enthusiastic that night.

I can in no way disagree with Dave's assessment of this rhetorical gifts of most sacrament meeting speakers. However, I don't think it's fair to categorize church speakers as "untrained". Children give talks in primary (starting, if things haven't changed since my primary days, at a rather young age) partly to prepare them to speak in front of the whole congregations. Youth talks serve a similar purpose. And in my understanding, the CES "Seminary" program is called "Seminary" precisely because it is intended to prepare young members of the Church to participate in the lay-ministry. Of course, none of this is required of people who speak in meetings, but it is likely that a large percentage of those who do speak in church have spent some time (more than 10 hours) in programs of this type. Maybe, then, the problem is with the effectiveness of the training, and not with its presence or absence.

David, nice comments. Perhaps formal/informal is a better label than trained/untrained. Mormon worship has no formal sermon because we have no distinct clergy and no liturgy that calls for formal sermons. Everything that happens at a Mormon pulpit is informal. For all the practice LDS youth get speaking, I can't think of any specific training, either to youth or to adults, about what should be said or not said in a talk from the pulpit, about how to deliver it, etc. There is regular comment about what to say or not say in monthly testimony meetings, but with only slight effect on what people actually say. There is a "teacher training" course in the LDS Sunday School curriculum--why not a "speaker training" course?

I agree that LDS children get practice in front of groups and LDS youth get experience delivering (informal) talks before large congregations. I think adult Mormons who end up speaking in front of people professionally owe some of the comfort and polish they display to their early LDS experience. Similar comments apply to the teaching experience many Mormons get that is tough to come by elsewhere. The speaking and teaching skills that many (not all) develop due to this early and continuing exposure in church is something many of us can and should be grateful for.

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