Saturday, February 23, 2008

Speed Preaching

I spent the best part of today at the preaching workshop that I touched upon in my previous post. During April and May I'll be brushing up on my skills (sure, I technically "preach online" a lot, but it is only on very rare occasions that I get the opportunity to "go live" in front of a crowd of people), I'll be hearing speakers talk on various aspects of the subject... will test preach to others on the course and eventually be set loose on the unsuspecting public in an unfamiliar church.

Today was pretty much a foretaste of what to expect... and it was quite fast paced.

In the morning we heard a tale that had parallels with the Easter story. It was about a boy who becomes withdrawn from his group of friends... and who when confronted by his concerned father, reveals that he is embarrassed about his mother... who had scarred hands. The father shares with his son, how his mother became scarred. When he was two years old his mother left him in the front room for two minutes... and he managed to fall upon the open fire they had. His mother hearing the horrific scream, ran in... pulled the boy off the fire and - having nothing else to use, patted the flames out with her bare hands. The boy walked away unscathed, but the mother (despite surgeons' best efforts)was left with badly scarred hands. Upon learning this story, the boy makes a point to show his friends his mother's hands whenever he can... realising that it demonstrates in practical terms, how much she loved him.

Of course the Christian parallels in that tale are obvious. Christ himself has scarred hands... from dying on the cross to save us from sin.

We were asked to recount the same story in our own words, within small groups. Having a slightly similar tale to the fictional boy (though it was me who was scarred due to boiling tea... and not my mother), I was a little distracted. Kind of weird how out of all the anecdotes that could have cropped up... it was that one.

Following on from this, we all took a bible reference at random from a basket. All of these scriptures were parables from the synoptic gospels. We had to read the parable in story form using own language and then summarise what we felt God was saying to us through it. We were given just a couple of minutes to put it together... in other words,we were "speed preaching".

I was given The Parable of the Unjust Judge, a tale that Jesus used to stress the importance of praying and not giving up.

I was in mischievous mood.

The room we were using had a picture of one of the former CPAS presidents (we were using their offices in Warwick). I decided to use this poor moustached gentleman to represent the titular unjust judge. In reality the guy was anything but this, he gave up his land for charity... not exactly the kind of person you could describe as not fearing God or caring for men. I was very animated in my talk... but it seemed to go well. For me this was the most memorable and beneficial experience of the whole day and I think that when we go through the training properly... when I have to speak in front of others who are assessing me, I'm still going to treat the message I bring with the same kind of fervour or zeal I would use if I were writing here, or talking in a genuine church environment. To me, it's all the same... it is still a very real opportunity to share something I feel that God has said.

I'm looking forward to the experience.

The whole notion of what I jokingly called "speed preaching" has got me thinking though. Whatever could be next? I have an idea....

"Extreme Preaching".

Think about it... what a great way to spread the gospel in the modern world! You already get adrenaline junkies who scale mountain tops or jump out of aeroplanes to do their ironing. Think of the media exposure a pastor/vicar/preacher could get if they decided to preach the Word miked up and hanging off a cliff face.... or skyboarding.

I'd give extra cred to any clergyman who dared do such a thing whilst fully frocked up!

I seriously think it should be explored. Maybe I should start writing to young impressionable vicars!

What do you think? If you know of any vicars who regularly pull fast stunts like this... let me know and I'll gladly record their exploits here.

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