Ways of getting across the message

29 08 2006

I went to Greenbelt for the day yesterday (28 Aug). Really good to hear Jim Wallis on a moral response to terrorism. Moved me to write to Mr Blair (again) with a heart broken for those who are treated as “collateral damage” in the war games of the powerful. Blessed are the peacemakers (what did he say? I think he said blessed are the cheesemakers – monty python).

Any way I went to listen to Jonny Baker talking about deconstructing the sermon too! I really like the way that Jonny deals with these sensitive issues sensitively and with humour. I have blogged my response to him ( http://jonnybaker.blogs.com/jonnybaker/2006/08/summer_is_over.html#comment-21676282 ) as there wasn’t time for a q and a. Have a look and see what you think. I think that the communication of the gospel by the spoken word among other art forms is essential to the fullest understanding of the message. As someone who preaches (whether he wants to or not) as a congregational minister I have a desire to see the “body” minister in all its creativity and diversity through the Spirit of God. Good theology throughout is the highest requirement.

by Martin Hill




4 responses

3 09 2006
James Church

Wow… it sounds like you had a good time at greenbelt and Jonny B clocks comments at an amazing rate. I didn’t read them all but I read your comment. I must admit I am sympathetic to some common complaints towards preaching but I don’t think we should scrap it all together. I’ve been with my aunt and uncle in Italy (so I’ve had my dose of agnosticism recently). My aunt will sometimes go to church (but very rarely) she finds preaching a real turn off but she appreciates the music (thats where consumerism will lead you). Anyway, I wonder what you think of adapting the sermon (using images, having people paint a scene behind you, inviting discussion)? I kinda like the idea of having a short sermon and a led discussion afterwards- to develop the sermon life application points.

Every blessing,


5 09 2006

We must use all the tools at our disposal. We must use heavy metal bands to rech rockers, golf competitions to reach the middle class, preaching to reach church goers, bells and smells or happy clappy for other sectors of the community. I agree that whatever other method is used, there has to be an element of preaching of some kind – “how can they believe unless they have heard?” – to communicaqte the fundamental key points of the gospel. But ‘preaching’ is not just 20 minute 3 point sermons from the pulpit – it is also a chat with a coleague at lunch, shouting in someone’s ear at the night club, and writing a blog that will catch someones attention.

8 09 2006
Mostly Harmless

At the heart of any “sermon” must be good theology. While I think that the medium in which the message is communicated is a moveable feast, the message needs to be right. My problem with taking the all in for a bit of a discussion is that opinion is not right the mind of God is. So, searching the mind of God must be at the centre of good theology and the mind of God is clearest through engaging deeply and contextually with scripture. That is where the “sermon” should lead those who are to “hear”.

8 09 2006
James Church

I hear you it does no one any favours when bad theology is spouted. And that often happens when people with little contextual knowledge talk on about their ‘own understanding’ as if what is true is only true for them.

However, my understanding of good theology is that it is not simply our ways of speaking nor is it less than our words. Good theology is living. Learning good theology is a little like becoming fluent in a language. To become fluent in good theology we have to participate in its language. The sermon then is not complete unless we find ourselves as part of the story- and in my experience this happens more easily through discussion and in wider participation in the community implicated by the sermon (or story).

In questioning the sermon I don’t want to do away with it but rather restore it to its proper role in ordering the life of a community. i.e. may be you could speak on the woman at the well perhaps a woman in your congregation might share her own experience of being restored to herself having met Jesus. Or perhaps another person would challenge the church by sharing their experience of not having been addressed by the church.

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