Wednesday, September 07, 2011

new preaching style experiment

I've been experimenting the last couple times I've "preached" with a more interactive format. I'm not sure my preaching profs would have counted it as preaching, but it fills the preaching slot on Sunday morning at our programmed Friends meeting. To hear these experiments you can listen to the podcasts for the time in June and the one in August. My father-in-law is good at this style of preaching and I learned a lot from him, although I think I do things a little differently because I'm a different person. I like this way of bringing the message, because basically it's just bringing fodder to open up a conversation. I think about a topic for a while and do some research, I make a plan as far as what I want to say to explain the direction I'm going, and I ask questions and wait for people to answer. Then I hold it loosely, not sure exactly where it's going to go from there. It's been fun so far, because people have really opened up and been vulnerable with their answers, and answered in a way that gets deeper--not just surface answers, but getting to the heart of things. I think if I preached every Sunday I would probably not do this style every week, because not a lot of content is conveyed. I'm not completely sure if that is a bad thing, because maybe content isn't what people really need...but I think different people need different things, so I would probably try to do a variety of different styles to hit as many learning styles as possible. That's kind of what we're doing at our meeting right now by having a number of different people in the preaching rotation, and it's been really fun. We have the advantage of hearing from different voices in our congregation (and sometimes from outside our congregation) so that we don't just hear one person's perspective or get too focused on one person's pet projects or favorite passages. In true Quaker fashion, we believe God can speak through any of us, so we open it up to hear voices other than the released ministers'. That's what I like about this new experimental way of preaching, too--we hear the voices of many who would never think of bringing the message in a formal way, but they have good things to say and God is at work in their lives. When I've preached in this interactive style I've been humbled to hear people's stories and insights that express a message from God in a way that I never would have been able to. It's like a guided unprogrammed worship, because it's not totally planned, and space is open for people to share, it just happens to be around a certain topic--kind of like having a query to ponder during unprogrammed worship.

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