Monday, August 09, 2010
rant on creativity, or lack, in preaching and proclamation
This post has been bubbling for a while and should not be read as a reflection on recent sermons I’ve heard and worship I’ve been part of.
Back in May, someone pointed me to a few lines from Uniting in Worship 2. (See a fascinating ABC introduction here). This book is like the official worship book of the Uniting Church in Australia. It’s meant to be important in shaping Uniting worship.
On page 134, in a section titled “The Service of the Word/Receiving God’s Word”
“People are shaped by story, by narrative … When we hear stories again and again, we are shaped and re-shaped as the stories are told and re-told. Christian people are shaped by the story of Jesus …. The story is told through proclamation – which may include reading the Scriptures, preaching, reflection on Scripture, drama/movement, symbolic action, art, multimedia resources, and silence … ”
When I read that, I began to scratch my head. Which may include … stories and art and multi-media and movement.
Here is clear and written encouragement to be creative. Yet my experience is that in 99% of churches (all churches, not just Baptist and not just Uniting), proclamation is only every the first two, “reading the Scriptures, preaching”? Words, words, words. And rarely, if ever … stories or art, multi-media or movement.
Or to quote from Jonny Baker’s new book, Curating Worship, which I reviewed over the weekend …
“In many church circles the only gifts that are valued for worship are musical ones or the ability to speak well. This attitude needs shattering, and opening up so that poets, photographers, ideas people, geeks, theologians, liturgists, designers, writers, cooks, politicians, architects, movie-makers, storytellers, parents, campaigners, children, bloggers, DJs, VJs, craft-makers, or just about anybody who comes and is willing to bounce ideas around, can get involved.” (Baker, Curating Worship, 12)
What a gorgeous list. So with such encouragement and such potentially creative people sitting in our churches, what is it that so limits the church’s proclamation to spoken words?