I have believed for a number of years that one of the keys to effective preaching is vulnerability. By that I mean being 'real' in front of a congregation. I don't pretend to be perfect or to 'have it all together'. When I started preaching, back in the dark ages, the thing was to speak with 'authority'. I don't think that they are mutually exclusive.
But I am finding that a section of the black African population sees vulnerability as weakness. At least I think that is what it is. They want more authority - the man (or woman) with the dog collar is seriously God's representative. I suppose for them, God doesn't feel.
In my thinking, which tends not to have shades of gray, I see congregations as uniform or homogeneous entities (especially in my cross-cultural context). I'm learning that this is not so. Some people respond well to Jesus, to calls to service and to vulnerability. Others come across as being just plain difficult. They need the authoritative voice more - and may reject it more. They speak more loudly. But I think that they are in the minority.
I need to consciously recognise both and know that I cannot reach them both without speaking to both.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
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Here's a post in preparation that I didn't post (yet): "I sense that one can only preach well when one has given up the notion of preaching with dignity, and has opened oneself to sacrificing oneself on one's sermon, as it were.” Perhaps a sermon cannot be designed in any way to protect oneself -- not one’s pride, one’s reputation, one’s respectability, one’s emotions, one’s personhood.
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