This is the fifth of a five-part series of an interview I conducted in March 2006 with the pastor of a small Baptist church in Kentucky about how ministers use the media at a local level and the art of oratory in preaching. Rev. Darrell Belcher is the past or Echols General Baptist Church in Echols, Ky.
Sam Ford: Do you think the Internet, since it can stream audio and video, provides new opportunities for delivering sermons?
Darrell Belcher: I think we have a wonderful opportunity here, if it is used correctly. Television, radio, and the Internet broadens a pastor's horizons immensely. You can think about outreach here and can potentially have this be a religious realm, if you use it correctly.
Sam Ford: Aside from your own sermons, what preachers do you listen to? Do you often attend other sermons live? If so, where, and what makes you want to go hear them?
Darrell Belcher: The difference for me is that I need to hear someone preach to me, sometimes. I need to be preached to, too. I go out so I can hear the different denominations. I don't always go to the Baptists. It may be somebody who is religiously different than me, but I go so that i can hear and gain the knowledge someone else has on the bible. That way, you can compare them and see what they have to say. You are always learning. You listen to messages differently when you are a pastor, though. You have studied the bible. You are always looking at another pastor from the aspect of how he's delivering the message from the bible and if he's keeping things in context. I go to learn. I need to learn all the time. If you get to the point you can't learn anything, you've done died.
Sam Ford: Do you watch preachers often on television or listen to them on the radio? What separates a good television or radio preacher from one who does not deliver as well?
Darrell Belcher: I listen to preachers on radio and and watch on television as well. I like Joel Osteen, and I like to watch Billy Graham when he has his crusades on television. I like John Hagee, and I love to hear T.D. Jakes. He's fantastic. I like their delivery. I like their scholarly attitude toward the bible. They've always got something new you can learn because they are well-spoken and deliver well. I always learn something from every one of them that i might be able to use later on to help me convey my message better as well.
Sam Ford: Do you think there is an art to delivering sermons? Can it be taught in a formal school.
Darrell Belcher: Yes, it it is very much an art, but I don't think it can be taught to you. I think you can pick up a lot of pointers and things from watching ministers, but I don't think it's something that can ever be taught. It's either something you have or you don't have. There's just something in what makes a good preacher that you've just got, something there that God uses.
Sam Ford: What made you first decide to devote your life to this?
Darrell Belcher: I decided I would do this because I really had a calling to do it. This wasn't something that I would have chosen to do. I dropped out of church for several years like a lot of other young people do, but there was a convicting spirit there. I've always said I was called to preach by the time I was 8 years old. I knew deep down where my calling was when I was a young boy, but it was something I ran from. I didn't start preaching until I was in my early 20s.
Sam Ford: Why do you still do this today?
Darrell Belcher: Ministry is a lot different than anything else. I just can't find a place to retire. I think about it. But then I decide I can't do that. There are still people out there I can reach, even though I'm older. I think it's just the idea that there's still people out there, so there's an inner drive in me. I probably won't ever retire. I'll preach until I die. All my old preacher friends preached all their lives and are still preaching up until the time they pass away. It's just something you can't get away from. You can't stop.