On Friday we had a great day – a staff training day with Mark Seaman. Mark recently retired as a BBC producer for many years in order to pursue other things such as training and play-writing. Not surprisingly, therefore, we had a fun day looking at presenting skills together. We all enjoyed it and I’m sure learnt something - whether we preach regularly like the RM’s, or announce the notices like Lesley. It has to be said, however, Lesley’s minute video was the most enjoyable! In some ways this was a bit of a trial run to see how useful Mark’s training days might be for groups of Christians wanting some help with talking to the media, presenting skills etc. I shall heartedly recommend Mark on the basis of this day and hope we’ll be able to make his gifts more widely available.
Saturday saw Maggie & I off to Barbury Castle to watch Ben compete. He did well if we forget the dressage score and there’s no doubt some of those jumps on the cross country course don’t just look big, they are big. Beating Zara Philips, in his section, will no doubt become a claim to fame at some point in the future!My overwhelming response to yesterday (apart from hearing the gutting news Emily had had her camera stolen in Brazil) was around the importance of preaching to a congregation as a vehicle of transformation and the communication of God’s word. It was a privilege to be at our home church (the sabbatical part two has officially begun) and listen to some quality preaching. Mid-way through the evening, Ian was talking about who we’d like to look like, picking up on cosmetic surgery etc and asking us who we’d like to look like when we look in the mirror. It caused a bit of laughter and everyone was entering into the fun. Then ‘and who do you want to look like on the inside’ – wham straight between the eyes and that was it for me. That’s one of the things I experience as a result of decent preaching – it provides a platform for God to speak into my life a necessary word. I’m still listening to the arguments about different preaching styles, discussion groups etc (we did a bit of that yesterday too – frankly too big a main group for it to work and the only purpose it seemed to serve was to break up the time for the sermon – ie an indirect aid to listening) , but making a collage is yet to prove itself as a vehicle for transformation in the same way as preaching can more easily become. I know the debates will rumble on, but I wonder how many in the debate ever listen to other people preach? I do and my conclusions remain that good biblical preaching remains the best vehicle for achieving the desired ends. Unfortunately, it seems it is poor preaching which is winning the argument. I can read, discuss and reflect in other places and with smaller groups of people, but left to my own devices I don’t get the chance so often for God to address me in the way preaching provides. Good preaching remains an art so let's keep practicing!