Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More observations on outreach

To be realistic, in my English-speaking culture, we are very nervous of people who shout, in any setting, especially if there is little coherence to their words, - except maybe when watching rugby. We become concerned that this person is not 'ok'. If I think of the churches that I have called 'home' over the last 20 years or so, I can't imagine the minister standing at the front and shouting and stamping and thumping the pulpit or table, repeating himself over and over again and making little logical progress in his message or prayers. And the look of thunder on the face. We have had black and white ministers in our churches. I think that if any one of them had a 'turn' like this, he or she would be gently escorted to the vestry and their spouse contacted in order to take them home.
That is my culture. I like it - mostly because I am used to it, I suppose, but it also makes sense to me.
This makes it very hard for me to enjoy church services where this shouting is the normal procedure. Now that I am away from the outreach situation I am able to believe that this is an acceptable alternative spirituality. That it is ok for people to worship and find God like this. While I was in it and after an extended period of time I started becoming unhappy, uncertain, insecure. But I really think that was more culture than spirituality.
I have found the same misfit in Pentecostal churches. I'm not happy with extended periods of talking in tongues, when I don't know what is going on.
I need to think more, but I have a lecture - so rather this than nothing today!


Dan said...

i hear you completely. one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control and it's a shame when the lack of this is treated as a good thing in church. i'm not a member of a denomination but i come from a pentecostal background and i haven't come across any extended tongues sessions, because paul strongly advised against it. in fact, the public speaking of tongues is only for times when an interpreter is known to be present. in fact, paul has a lot to say on the general order and peacefulness with which services should be carried out, which is why i'm not a fan of those "passionate" church services that are apparently all about noise and anarchy. not that we have many of those in the uk. here we actually need more fire, not less ;)

Steve Hayes said...

The shouting is part of the imvuselelo style, and it's what's expected. It's part of what is becoming a kind of generic South African Protestantism that goes across all denoiminations.

I've seen a diminutive Anglican nun who looked as if she wouldn't say boo to a goose produce an astonishing volume of sound once she got in front of the congregation. It's just the way these things are done. This is not teaching, or reasoning, it is haranguing, exhorting, urging people to be saved right now.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Yes, this style is not my style. I find it hard to see Jesus in there. But I think that maybe it does work for others. I think that we need to look at asking, 'what are the elements of Christian worship or spirituality?' Asking from an intercultural perspective. Is imvuselelo enough? Is calm rational preaching enough? I think we can learn from each other. It is very interesting, at any rate.