Thursday, 25 April 2013

It ain't what you say . . .

It's the way that they hear it!

Last week, I had an opportunity to feel quite pleased with myself as one of the people who'd heard me preach on active remembrance in the Eucharist told me how much they'd learn and the difference that  'amniocentesis' had made to their communion experience!

I can honestly say that I have never, not once, mentioned the testing of amniotic fluids in conjunction with the Eucharist but realised that what they meant was 'anamnesis'.

One of the roles of the minister, especially those who wish to engage theologically at personal and congregational levels, is to take the difficult things and make them simple; take the simple things and make them commonplace and everyday realities. The problem is that we all too often simplify concepts and issues, scattering analogies and naff metaphors as we go, and leave our people with a weak and often impotent God and a flawed and failing Christianity,

God has three leaves and is green, or Mother, Wife and Daughter; the route to modalism or tritheistic stuff is now put on the spiritual GPS and and coherent understanding of the Trinity is lost (of course they could read 'The Shack I guess!). We struggle with the Vigin Birth and so we have adoptionism, Arianism or a 'normal' bloke who, 'Being filled with the Holy Spirit, is enable to be God because God resides in Him and make Him part of God!' (and I have heard that sermon on more than one occasion during my Christian life!

When I used to work with engineering apprentices,we had a large poster on the wall of one of the workshops which proclaimed:

“What I hear, I forget; 

What I see, I remember; 
What I do, I understand.”

And this was true for the apprentices (I was one, I know!) and was confirmed by the fact that out first attempts at thing often went awry but got better the more we did, and understood, the what, why and how; and is true for congregations too. The problem is this:

Many of us are not exposed to the Bible outside of the Sunday readings and sermon slot.

Many of us never get to discuss what the Bible says in an active way.

Many of us want to 'do' what the Bible says but have 'stuff' (work, hobbies, family, etc.) that get in the way and either prevent us from doing or water it down.

Many of us have a go but don't have the watchful, and corrective, eye and hand with us and so, if ut goes even a little wrong, we find ourselves withdrawing to a place of safety (ie. not doing anything or keeping to what we know we can do)!

Seems that even when we think we've said it well we find that later the people haven't perhaps heard it as well as we thought. There's more to preaching than:

Tell them what you're going to tell them

Tell them

Tell them what you've told them

We also need to show them (where possible) and then get them to explain, make, or do too!


Mind you, Parthenongenesis is the first book of the Bible that was found in the Parthenon, isn't it?


Neil Bradley said...

Know what Comms people say: If you haven't heard it; I haven't said it

UKViewer said...

I always think that long words don't a preacher make.

Simple English works for me and accurate pronunciation of biblical names also helps, next time I read that passage.

Having never delivered a sermon I'm unable to put things into context, but having taught at a range of levels in the Army from Recruit to Senior Officer, I know they want it short, concise and accurate, using plain English. Probably a good guide to sermon writing as well.