Religion Magazine

My Visual Aide

By Richardl @richardlittleda

Adding to the sermon

When I am training preachers I often tell them that they should expect to be inspired by their congregation as well as inspiring them.  In fact, in order to test the theory I generally ask the class what any of them have observed recently amongst those to whom they preach which has inspired them. I am no exception, and when I travel to another church on Sunday I shall take a visual aide (as opposed to a visual aid) with me.

Ever since a visit to Network Church Sheffield in the Summer of 2013, Lifeshapes have been part of what I do here in the church. In the basic version I teach here, this consists of :

The circle – a reminder to savour our ‘God-moments’ and always ask what God is saying and what we should do about it.

The triangle – a reminder to keep our Christian lives in balance, with an up dimension to God, an in dimension to the church, and an out dimension to the world.

The square – a reminder to pass the baton on carefully in Christian service, rather than holding onto it tightly, or dropping it altogether.


The square operates through a four stage process of gradual handover:

  1. I do; you watch
  2. I do; you help
  3. You do; I help
  4. You do; I watch


This is where my smiley visual aide, pictured below, comes in.  Chris has just stepped down from a job he loves – serving on the church Leadership Team. He is not leaving because he is tired of it or disenchanted with it. In fact, the reverse would be true. He is leaving precisely in order to pass the baton on and encourage others to learn as he has done. Who better to take with me on Sunday? When I preach, we shall look at the aftermath of the transfiguration together in Mark 9 v. 14 -29. In this passage we see the disciples barely able to do their job, let alone being in a fit state to take on the task when Jesus goes away. He steps in, helps them, deals with the problem, and then (most importantly) explains what has gone wrong and where they should put it right next time. This is the point where many churches fall down. For the congregation to have Chris there to tell his story and then available for questions afterwards will achieve far more than I could on my own.




When we fail to pass on the baton it tends to be for one of three reasons.

– the person passing it on does not let go

– the person taking it does not grip firmly

– both parties are out of practice.

The results of a failure in any one can be dramatic, as witnessed below. How is it in your church?


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