Preach Magazine Issue 1 - Creativity and innovation in preaching - Page 13

FEATURE application? How much illustration do I need, and what kind? What kind of ‘pulpit manner’ should I adopt? These seem to be areas of freedom, because Scripture does not answer these questions directly. A creativity in communication that aims to serve the God-given core content is a thoroughly useful quality in the preacher. Edward Dowland Owen: Liberal Catholic Church of Wales Priest However, as always with Christian freedom, it is a freedom to be exercised in service of others. My creativity is to be directed to the end of communicating this message as powerfully and engagingly as I can to this group of people, for their up-building in the Lord. Again, though, this general point comes, I think, with a qualification. I am persuaded by the venerable argument that the sermon as a proclamatory monologue to be received in faith is a trans-cultural form that we ought not to abandon. This does not mean that having a question time after the sermon is wrong, or that breaking it into two sections is wrong. However, the nature of the gospel is that it is not the sharing of a thought, but is a declaration of a work achieved by God entirely on our behalf and entirely for us, and we are to hear and receive in faith (Romans 10:17). The sermon as a mode of communication is a divinely appointed means of grace. In its very form it expresses the truth that salvation is received by faith as righteousness is revealed to us. Tim Ward Tim Ward is the Associate Director of the Proclamation Trust’s Cornhill Training Course. He was previously an Anglican vicar, and is the author of Words of Life: Scripture as the living and active word of God (IVP 2009). LWPT8173 - Preach Magazine - Issue 1 v3.indd 13 SOMETIMES POINTS CAN ONLY BE MADE BY UNUSUAL ILLUSTRATIONS. HOWEVER, WHEN WE TRY TO BE CREATIVE OR INNOVATIVE IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT THE ILLUSTRATION DOES NOT TAKE AWAY FROM THE CENTRAL TRUTH OF THE MESSAGE O ne of the definitions of preaching is ‘the art of delivering a sermon’. Preaching is fundamentally about communication. The art of communication is engaging those who are listening and hopefully evoking some kind of response within them. In order to capture the attention of the listener in a multimedia age the art of delivering and communication inevitably needs to change. Essentially, for communication to take place, the listener needs to be aware of the message that is intended to be communicated. To be creative is to use originality of thought, while to be innovative is to introduce something new and to make changes for the first time. 13 If preaching can validly be described as an art, or indeed an art form, then there is great scope for communication in a variety of ways. Art is not a static thing restricted to one form but rather something which is varied and can take place using various media. I would argue that it is the same for preaching. If preaching is purely lecture-based and basically an opportunity to ‘text prove’ for half an hour, then it is likely not to engage the attention of the listeners. So the challenge is to develop tools in order to gain and maintain attention. It is vital at the beginning of preaching a sermon to strike a connection; this is more easily done where there is creativity involved. It is at this point that an illustration is most appropriate. However it is also important for an illustration to be contextual: examples of this are news items that affect the local area, illustrating how faith, politics and the media interact. At this point it is good to be visual and to have a distinctive example. The use of YouTube clips is a good example of how it is appropriate to be innovative and to give a distinctive feel to preaching. This is also an effective way in which to ground the preaching in the lifeexperience of those who are listening. An example or illustration is useful to show that the timeless truth of scripture is also contextual, thereby rooting it firmly in the life experience of the listener. Surely this is the whole point of preaching: to convey a message and to see that message absorbed with its consequences lived out? Within the Scriptures there are many examples of both creativity and innovatio