Preach Magazine Issue 1 - Creativity and innovation in preaching - Page 25

FEATURE 25 When Pastor Michael Ekwulugo’s church moved to a town centre location, his congregation faced a bigger change than perhaps they’d been prepared for. he Transformation Life Centre in Birmingham had previously been a traditional black majority church, but now there were different faces in the crowd. communicating in such a way that your words actually convey biblical truth to your audience? Or does your preaching float right past your hearers because it’s not delivered “on a frequency” that they listen to?’ ‘We were blessed to be able to buy a new building,’ says Pastor Ekwulugo, ‘but it’s right on the High Street so that was massive for us because all sorts of people would walk through the door. We realised that we couldn’t just go on the way we were, so we’ve made loads of changes. We’ve had to cater for the new people, we’ve had to evolve.’ Tailoring your message to your audience is crucial, according to writer and Baptist minister Mark Woods. He told Preach magazine: ‘There’ll always be compromises, because not everyone in the congregation is going to be in the same spiritual place or have the same educational background, though churches do tend to settle at a particular level. In Pastor Ekwulugo’s case, the change of audience didn’t signal a change of content. The whole church, however, had to deal with a cultural shift in the way its Bible message was framed and presented (see page 28). ‘A sermon that works in one church will completely bomb in another. But I believe passionately in preaching, which at its best is one heart speaking truth to another…’ In a recent essay on contextual preaching, the US author and minister Ed Stetzer wrote: ‘At the heart of effective preaching is a solid missiological perspective. Are you LWPT8173 - Preach Magazine - Issue 1 v3.indd 25 Reverend Woods has argued that regular all-age services don’t work no matter how well they’re done. ‘I think that real preaching requires an intensity of speaking and a level of engagement with the Bible, the world and the human heart that needs a certain maturity,’ he said. ‘If we compromise on that, we’re selling everyone short, both children and adults. Sermons should be serious, imaginative and urgent. We should expect to hear God speaking through the preacher.’ Stetzer believes that effective preaching that really speaks to your audience on a level they’ll understand, does not involve leaping through hoops – the Bible is already relevant. ‘Our job is to present it in ways that help the hearer see that it is relevant – in this and in every culture.’ he writes. ‘We do so by starting at their understanding and taking them to Scripture for the whole answer.’ Preach magazine spoke to Pastor Ekwulugo and three other speakers with very different audiences, and asked how they shape their sermons to suit their congregations. 17/10/2014 12:53:50