On November 11 I will be one of the speakers at TEDxMileHigh Wonder. I will join 5,000 of my closest friends in a day of fascinating conversations about big ideas. I have been able to spend time with most of the speakers, and this is gonna be fun.
The Wonder event will be held at Bellco Theater at the Colorado Convention Center. As of this writing, there are still seats remaining, though they do expect it to be sold out. http://tedxmilehigh.com
How did I come to speak at a large TEDx event? Unlike most speakers, I did not apply. Back in April, Michael Hidalgo, lead pastor at Denver Community Church, and I did an interview with Ryan Warner on Colorado Matters, a popular show on Colorado Public Radio. That interview resulted in CPR taking an interest in my July sermon at DCC. After I preached, CPR asked to play a portion of my message on Colorado Matters. That got the attention of one of the curators at TEDxMileHigh.
It has been fascinating to see how much work the leaders do to ensure a great day for the TEDx attendees. Each speaker has a coach, and the coordinators weigh in heavily on every aspect of your presentation. At a little over two weeks out, I am on draft 14 of my talk. Just for the sake of comparison, my typical blog goes through about five edits and my typical sermon goes through seven or eight. The folks at TEDxMileHigh have high expectations. That is one of the reasons their events sell out.
I cannot help but compare my sermon preparation to this TEDx experience. Part of the reason I love preaching at Highlands Church is because the bar is high. Both of our preaching pastors, Jenny Morgan and Mark Tidd, work long and hard on their sermons. Their good work makes itself known. I want the sermons I preach at Highlands to be at the level of excellence they routinely attain. I put a lot of hours into my sermons.
In the typical Roman Catholic Church, the sermon (they call it a homily) is not that big a deal. A homily gets maybe an hour’s worth of work on a Saturday evening. It shows. Sermons are more important in Protestant churches. They are the central part of the service, and last anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes. I usually preach between 21 and 23 minutes. No one complains about a short sermon.
There are some interesting peculiarities about evangelical preaching. A lot of preachers “borrow” a sermon that has already been preached by a megachurch preacher. They do not give proper attribution. Preaching someone else’s sermon and not admitting it has became a common practice in the evangelical church. I have thoughts about that. I have never preached another pastor’s outline, let alone the entire sermon.
I have noticed men tend to overestimate the quality of their sermons, while women tend to underestimate theirs. Just an observation.
Since I did not apply to speak for TEDx, it was difficult to decide what direction to go with my talk. I thought about speaking about how the evangelical church responds to LGBTQ issues. I also thought about telling my story, in all of its raw truth. Ultimately, I decided to speak about the differences between experiencing life as a male and as a female in America. It’s been fun writing my talk. If you live in Denver, I’d love it if you came. Friendly faces in the audience would be nice. (Sorry, but I don’t have any more discounted tickets.)
I am really looking forward to speaking at TEDxMileHigh, though I am not particularly nervous about the talk. I have spoken to large audiences before, both as Paul and as Paula. I’m old enough that if it goes well, great. If it doesn’t, no one dies.
And so it goes.