I am attending a Preaching and Communication course organised by these folks and have been very struck by one fact; one we all know; about Jesus' mandate to preach good news, but when I let the realisation of this hit me again last week, it made an even deeper impression on me......
It's from this passage here: Luke 4: 14-20
Jesus preached - or taught - in the open air. I do like the fact that Michael Quick points out that there are nearly 30 words in the New Testamant to describe preaching. Makes me feel goooood - proclamation and teaching and expository preaching and telling good news are all kinds of preaching. So my playground/Costa chatter can all be construed as preaching in a non-confrontatinal form! But to my main point - Jesus' mandate was to bring God's word OUT THERE, not merely to us IN HERE. A couple of books have been referred to on the course and he who presents pointed out the authors assume that preaching happens within a church service.
Hold on, hold on, cultural context today is important. Many people may point out that the early church didn't have buildings where people came to sit and listen; interaction took place OUT THERE so therefore preaching happened OUT THERE - no buildings = street preaching?? Yet every little fact I discover in the Bible is there for a reason, therefore (watch out, here comes Lynn's hermeneutical thought!) my reading of Acts 2 illustrates that the disciples spilled out onto the street i.e. they were gathered in a private place (a house) where presumably words of instruction, encouragement and teaching were used and then they were OUT THERE in the street proclaiming God's words to the assembled crowd.
I've also been reading about the early Anabaptists, gathering in fields and woods to preach God's word, bring people to repentance OUT THERE (because they weren't allowed to preach in the churches; till this decision was reversed....as they were seen as too subversive to be OUT THERE!) and then baptizing the new believers.
I ask the questions: is this something we have lost, to our detriment? Preaching the good news on the street or in the market place? And I press in further with this question: how can effective OUT THERE preaching be done in the post-modern, post-Christendom affluent West? What models work? What can we try? I have to say with all my heart that I believe it can only happen with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, as Paul said in 1 Cor 2: I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.
People OUT THERE are fed up with words, words, words (maybe we're not IN HERE. We like words. They make us think and reflect). People OUT THERE need more. "So what?" they might just say to our words. Please note: I am not knocking preaching, my preaching-friends who read this. We need to be prodded, taught, challenged, inspired. But I wonder if something that was meant for OUT THERE and IN HERE has solely become for us IN HERE! People need to see the kingdom of God - I want to see the "now" come to pass. It *is* happening in all parts of the world. I love reading about Dream Teams in shopping malls in the USA and people coming to faith on municipal dumps in Mozambique (and as an interesting aside, children are also involved in all of the above. Contact me for more information if you're interested!)
And so was our theme on 10 Feb in the all age service. Take the good news out. Build our faith. Praying Acts 4:30-31 out together. Being people of all ages of faith and love and power, not of empty words. I showed the video clip (below) - please do watch this amazing story of an outbreak of the supernatural kingdom of God and preaching and conversion - and we all together, grasping people's individual names in our hands (those for whom we wanted to see a breakthrough), cried out to God for that which happened in one wealthy Californian town to be possible here - with our faith firing our vision of what the power of God, the powerful witness of the community of the family of God standing AND the preaching of the Good News can bring.