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Looking beyond the curve

Updated: May 25, 2020

Preachers have always had to look beyond the curve. The development of Christianity was greatly enhanced by the invention of the codex; books rather than scrolls were easier to read and transport. Paul seems to have valued them, as is indicated in 2 Timothy 4: 13.

The reformer, Martin Luther made the most of his preaching by using the recently invented printing press. In the 20th Century preachers utilised air travel, radio and television to get out the message. It was a vicar in the tiny village of Wrentham in Suffolk, who was the first person to issue a podcast sermon in the UK:

Preachers, at their best have always been creative, innovative, and willing to push the boundaries in order to communicate God’s word. Corvid-19 gives preachers a new challenge; communicating when the numbers who can gather to hear preaching are limited on health reasons. Sunday 15th March was a first, in this regard for me, and a number of preachers world-wide.

There I was in the library of the Latvian Biblical Centre in Riga, staring into the lens of an I Phone, with only two other people present. I find the presence of a congregation a really important ingredient in the communication process. Their visual, and sometimes vocal engagement is so encouraging. Yet here I am preaching in these circumstances; how did it go? It was a better experience than I had imagined.

I was helped by one of the worship leaders, leading two songs from his kitchen for a live feed. The words on PowerPoint were supplied by another member on a drop-down menu.

Church is always more than preaching. As a preacher I find my heart nourished and my Spirit refreshed by praise and prayer.

Preaching in these circumstances forced me to imagine those who would be listening as I sought to connect with them personally. Jack Miller used to talk about “Preaching by faith;” in a sense we always have to do that but this time I began to sense what that means. Trust God that our words will be used today among this people for God’s glory.

It is hardly surprising that the church has sought out fresh ways to get the message out. We preach Jesus, the Word become flesh; now that is what I call innovative!

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