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Posts Tagged ‘preaching’

I found this blog from 13 November 2010 the other day while browsing and nursing a cold. Of course a lot has changed for me and in the Wycliffe Bible Translators office in Belfast since then. I am no longer NI Coordinator (as described below) although I am currently Interim Team Leader for the Wycliffe team based at the office. I am working just three days per week and I seem to be speaking less in churches – but who knows what 2015 will bring.

Read on – a few more comments at the end…

I’m preaching ‘away’ this weekend (which makes it sound rather like I ought to be wearing a special coloured shirt) and this brings its own problems of preparation. As is often the case for a visiting preacher, I have been left to select my own subject for  the preaching. I cannot write it ‘for’ this group of people, because I do not know them. I cannot read it ‘for’ them either – as I am unaware of their particular needs and situations. What am I to do?

I read this on Richard Littledale’s excellent Preachers A-Z blog; you can read the whole thing here.

It prompted me to think about how I prepare to speak at church Sunday services and midweek meetings in my role as NI Coordinator for Wycliffe Bible Translators UK. Except on the occasions when I am asked to speak in my home church, I am always “preaching away from home”. I sometimes know the people because I’ve been there before but not always. Invariably I select my own subject and that’s the positive bit for me because I want to talk about the Bible and Bible translation and the work that we do in Wycliffe worldwide. I want to enthuse my hearers to think that the Bible is the Story that everybody needs. I want them to know and be challenged by the fact that around 350 million people speaking over 2,200 languages have no access to any part of the Bible in the language they understand best. I want their church to get involved!

So far so good!

But how do I select? God is doing so much through Bible translation. I could talk about the Sabaot pastor of upland Kenya who on receiving the New Testament in his language exclaimed, “Now God is walking with us on this mountain!” Or I could quote Ben Kwachi, the Archbishop of Jos in Nigeria, who once said, “Bible translation is evangelism.” Or I could explain the benefits in terms of education and health and community self-esteem that comes when people learn to read and write in their previously unwritten mother tongue. I could go on about the use of computers in Bible translation or the projects working on sign language translation for deaf communities or oral story telling for oral communities who will never learn to read or the use of Megavoice for listening groups to study the Bible not by reading but by hearing…

How do I decide what I want to speak about?

And then I can slip into the trap of using the same basic message each time I speak. And there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s fresh for each new church group that I visit. But will I become stale? I too need to go back to the Bible and be re-enthused as I study and apply this amazing book – the Story everybody needs.

I use Powerpoint a lot. I think that I use it well. Not everyone close to me necessarily agrees with me, but I think there is value in the spoken word being accompanied by an appropriate visual image and outline notes. But what about next Sunday when I will be speaking in a church where I will not have the option of using Powerpoint?

How do I speak about the Story that everybody needs? Well, I’m planning to tell stories. Isn’t that what Jesus did when he captivated and challenged and puzzled his hearers with parables? The preparation started this morning during a beautiful walk in nearby Belvoir Forest Park. It will continue to float around in my mind over the weekend. Then on Monday morning it needs to get on paper.

I am frequently encouraged as I preach away from home… as I commented on Richard’s blog.

I guess I am still amazed at how often someone introducing me says or quotes something so relevant to what I am about to say. Or the hymn chosen to sing just before I speak gives me a lead in. And then I think: well, I really shouldn’t be amazed, should I? I am about to speak about the Bible the Story everyone needs to hear and God’s desire that they should hear it in the language they understand best.

Hey! I’m looking forward to next Sunday morning… and I’ve been invited for lunch too!

Now over four years later, I still want to enthuse people about the need for Bible translation; about the benefits of literacy; about the impact of technology in bringing God’s Word to people without it. I could talk about literacy teams in Senegal helping to combat Ebola or about the Jesus Film on smart phones in rural West Africa or the development of smart phone apps which will promote Bible knowledge and mother tongue literacy at the same time.

I have a few meetings coming up but mostly I’m looking forward to following up recent contacts and talking to them about their role in God’s Mission.

Watch this space 🙂

 

 

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The preacher as translator.

… the preacher should not be so seized by the image of translation that the Biblical text loses its ‘teeth’ in an effort to fit in with the world of those who hear the sermon. It is, and always will be, a word from ‘another place’ which lands in the world of the listener…  I concluded that the most effective measure of any sermon was not how it sounds or how much it is enjoyed, but how much difference it makes. A translator whose job is to translate road signs, for instance, knows that they are doing a good job when all the cars turn the right way!

This morning my blog friend, Richard Littledale, has posted a telling piece on translating God’s Word as a preacher in order to have a successful impact in the lives of his hearers.

successful preaching..?

successful preaching..?

Useful thoughts for preachers and teachers … and even Wycliffe Bible Translators UK Church Engagement Team members 🙂

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To get the link and how it all adds up to wise advice for preachers as 2011 looms, you will have to read Richard Littledale at Preachers’ A-Z

Some of those closest to me will be well pleased if I take the prayer below to heart.

“Lord, help us not to talk too much

Because talking too much is like driving too fast

Sometimes the brakes are not good

And we pass by the place where we intended to stop”

Indeed, Richard, enough said!

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I’m preaching ‘away’ this weekend (which makes it sound rather like I ought to be wearing a special coloured shirt) and this brings its own problems of preparation. As is often the case for a visiting preacher, I have been left to select my own subject for  the preaching. I cannot write it ‘for’ this group of people, because I do not know them. I cannot read it ‘for’ them either – as I am unaware of their particular needs and situations. What am I to do?

I read this on Richard Littledale’s excellent Preachers A-Z blog; you can read the whole thing here.

It prompted me to think about how I prepare to speak at church Sunday services and midweek meetings in my role as NI Coordinator for Wycliffe Bible Translators UK. Except on the occasions when I am asked to speak in my home church, I am always “preaching away from home”. I sometimes know the people because I’ve been there before but not always. Invariably I select my own subject and that’s the positive bit for me because I want to talk about the Bible and Bible translation and the work that we do in Wycliffe worldwide. I want to enthuse my hearers to think that the Bible is the Story that everybody needs. I want them to know and be challenged by the fact that around 350 million people speaking over 2,200 languages have no access to any part of the Bible in the language they understand best. I want their church to get involved!

So far so good!

But how do I select? God is doing so much through Bible translation. I could talk about the Sabaot pastor of upland Kenya who on receiving the New Testament in his language exclaimed, “Now God is walking with us on this mountain!” Or I could quote Ben Kwachi, the Archbishop of Jos in Nigeria, who once said, “Bible translation is evangelism.” Or I could explain the benefits in terms of education and health and community self-esteem that comes when people learn to read and write in their previously unwritten mother tongue. I could go on about the use of computers in Bible translation or the projects working on sign language translation for deaf communities or oral story telling for oral communities who will never learn to read or the use of Megavoice for listening groups to study the Bible not by reading but by hearing…

How do I decide what I want to speak about?

And then I can slip into the trap of using the same basic message each time I speak. And there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s fresh for each new church group that I visit. But will I become stale? I too need to go back to the Bible and be re-enthused as I study and apply this amazing book – the Story everybody needs.

I use Powerpoint a lot. I think that I use it well. Not everyone close to me necessarily agrees with me, but I think there is value in the spoken word being accompanied by an appropriate visual image and outline notes. But what about next Sunday when I will be speaking in a church where I will not have the option of using Powerpoint?

How do I speak about the Story that everybody needs? Well, I’m planning to tell stories. Isn’t that what Jesus did when he captivated and challenged and puzzled his hearers with parables? The preparation started this morning during a beautiful walk in nearby Belvoir Forest Park. It will continue to float around in my mind over the weekend. Then on Monday morning it needs to get on paper.

I am frequently encouraged as I preach away from home… as I commented on Richard’s blog.

I guess I am still amazed at how often someone introducing me says or quotes something so relevant to what I am about to say. Or the hymn chosen to sing just before I speak gives me a lead in. And then I think: well, I really shouldn’t be amazed, should I? I am about to speak about the Bible the Story everyone needs to hear and God’s desire that they should hear it in the language they understand best.

Hey! I’m looking forward to next Sunday morning… and I’ve been invited for lunch too!

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Fellow blogger, Richard Littledale, yesterday wrote a blog entitled Hoist with a Digital Petard which included this photograph of the creative graffiti.

Sign language braille graffiti

Like Richard, I would love to know what it says. Any French sign language interpreters out there?

Or perhaps, like so much graffiti, we don’t want to know what it says.

More importantly Richard’s blog has good stuff to say about the preacher’s challenge to balance the too often competing sermon ingredients of presentation and content.

The thing is though, whilst good content can be spoilt by poor presentation bad content cannot be rescued by good presentation. Powerpoint is no substitute for prayer and embedding is no replacement for exegesis. This is doubtless the reason why Richard Lischer poses the question in his book The End of Words , as to how Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech might have looked in Powerpoint! We so easily get caught up in the finer points of presentation and illustration that we often short circuit the earlier stages of the preaching process. In this regard, the capabilities offered to us in a digital age are more curse than blessing. The fact that we can do all these visual things makes us feel that we must do them. A preacher who spends hours tweaking her or his Powerpoint slides compared to minutes deciding what to say has been hoist with their own digital petard, so to speak. When this happens, both preacher and people suffer.

Ouch!

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I am not a preacher!

But I do some preaching as I visit churches to talk about what God is doing in his world through Bible translation and how he is using my colleagues in Wycliffe Bible Translators around His world!

I do however enjoy reading other people’s comments about preaching.

It seems that Krish Kandiah has prompted something when he Tweeted this morning:

What’s wrong with preaching today – your comments please.

Richard Littledale of preachersa2z has responded with this blog which quickly progresses via Ask Jeeves to some of the big questions of life…

  1. What is the meaning of life?
  2. Is there a God?
  3. Do blondes have more fun?
  4. What is the best way to lose weight?
  5. Is there anybody out there?

… and challenges preachers to think about what they are preaching about and is it relevant to life today and the questions that people are asking.

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