Religion Magazine

Einstein on Preaching

By Richardl

The risk of novelty

On Saturday I returned to one of my great loves after an absence of over one year: teaching people to preach. On this particular occasion it was a workshop on narrative  technique. Those attending were Baptist preachers from across London, both novices and experienced preachers. We looked at the reasons why narrative matters, drawing from geo-politics, advertising, prophecy and parables along the way. We played games, drafted sermons, listened to a great speech-writer, talked about the bare bones of narrative technique and above all…asked questions. There were practical questions, theological questions, and some of those nagging little questions which always crop up when learning about a new technique. These are the questions about balancing risk and reward:

  • Will I get it right?
  • Are my interpretative skills up to the job?
  • Will people struggle to adapt to a new ‘sound’ in the pulpit?
  • Can I be sure that I am honestly interpreting scripture whilst being creative?

I could not be more delighted that these questions were asked. In fact, I should have been troubled if they were not. I am also rather pleased that at the very moment people were asking them I could see out of the corner of my eye crowds flocking to a ‘baby equipment’ sale elsewhere in the building. Babies are fearless in their exploration of the world, and will prod, poke, taste and squeeze things in their relentless pursuit of understanding. We do well to remember that in adult life, I think. Narrative carries a risk, without a doubt, but the church is at just as great a risk from boredom as it is from novelty. Odd though it might be to quote a Jewish physicist here, Einstein was quite right in saying that ‘A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new‘.

I preached a narrative sermon yesterday morning, and two of the reactions typify the risk I have described  Both came from mature and experienced Christians, but were poles apart:

“Where was the rest of the sermon ? I was just getting into it when you stopped”

“I loved the way you did that with the story, it really makes you think”

When I wrote the book below, the title was chosen because many preachers, let alone those who listen to them, feel dissatisfied with what they have to offer. For every ten people bored in front of a pulpit, there may well be one bored behind it. So long as that is the case, I feel excited to be part of doing something about it, in no matter how small a way.

Einstein on preaching

 

 

 


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Be Good

    This is the text of this morning's Pause for Thought on the Chris Evans Show on BBC Radio 2. In the studio were Dawn French, Henry Winkler and Gregory Porter. Read more

    The 16 May 2014 by   Nicholas Baines
    RELIGION, SOCIETY, SPIRITUALITY
  • Journey From Atheism

    Church has been a part of my experience for most (but not all) of my life. I was raised in an Anglican church and I attended regularly. Read more

    The 21 May 2014 by   Sjbedard
    RELIGION, SPIRITUALITY
  • In The Name Of The Lord

    I used to be an atheist. Mainly because I saw such hatred and bitterness and shaming and shunning done in the name of The Lord by his "disciples. Read more

    The 05 May 2014 by   Ldsapologetics
    RELIGION, SPIRITUALITY
  • How to Take Charge of What Matters to You

    Do you ever do something and have a feeling deep down that is just isn't right and you shouldn't be doing it? It could be something simple like enjoying yoursel... Read more

    The 18 May 2014 by   Albert Wagner
    RELIGION, SPIRITUALITY
  • On Not Being a Feminist: The Trials and Tribulations of Using the F Word

    I recently came across this article in Tablet about the establishment an ambulance service staffed by women and intended for women’s health in the right-wing... Read more

    The 02 June 2014 by   Starofdavida
    DEBATE, RELIGION, SOCIETY, WOMEN'S ISSUES
  • On Eating Jesus and Holy Communion

    John 6.51-58Jesus said, ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for... Read more

    The 19 June 2014 by   Malcolmdrogers
    RELIGION, SPIRITUALITY
  • Faith Untested

    I would say that faith untested is no faith at all. Because it's easy to have faith when all is sunshine and roses but when trials and tribulations arise it's... Read more

    The 25 June 2014 by   Ldsapologetics
    RELIGION, SPIRITUALITY

Add a comment