Today I have been in Essex with a group of new Baptist ministers (called NAM's - Newly Accredited Ministers) from the East of England. Periodically this group meets for a day and invites someone to open up a subject for reflection and challenge. My title was: Preaching in the Missional Context.
I was acutely aware that this was my first such engagement back in the UK for many years. Frankly, I had little idea how much they would have thought about the subject. I reckoned that some would have studied missional theology and even been involved in ground-breaking projects like Urban Expression - and I was right. So, some were very clued up! But others were not. What should my approach be?
So, yes, I went back to very low-tech - a flip chart. As soon as I wrote up the session title and asked if any words in the title troubled them ..... we were off. Interaction sparkled. Words were added, explained, joined up and circled. It was no surprise that from the beginning the word 'missional' caused problems because of its widespread misuse. And several said 'preaching' is a major problem too because of the negative view so many have, and its predictability. In reflection about 'missional' so many words became pivotal such as: God's mission, Prayer, Holiness, Cultural awareness, Gospel, Incarnation and so on. Of course, this led us onto more great words: Trinity, Kingdom of God, King Jesus Gospel, Inculturation, Imagination, Discernment, Community Building. Wow!
One minister said they couldn't believe how quickly the first hour had passed. What helped me immensely was the amount of input they gave kept me responding within genuine conversation. I couldn't help but think how dangerous it would have been for me to come with orderly lecture notes, polished in a sequence that met my needs! Rather, we went through an untidy couple of hours which emerged from dialogue. I was still in danger of being out of touch, but at least there was some touch!
I find it a great privilege to be involved in days like this because when I am standing in front of a flip chart with a pen in one hand and a blank sheet of paper I really am continuing to learn through others.