I was greatly interested in two letters in this weeks Methodist Recorder discussing the lack of preaching and a range of thoughts about this topic. I have to say I found myself saying Amen a lot as I read them.
There were some extremely valid points raised and one or two of my own thoughts on this matter were echoed in these letters. What good is a sermon if no one can hear it? Why do we not instruct/teach our trainee local preachers about things like voice projection and the need for the person who can't hear but always sits on the very back row to be able to hear. Why do we not ask people to indicate if they can't hear us - a friend of mine always used to say if you can't hear me put your hand to your ear and I will see this, I never heard anyone complain they couldn't hear him. In part I think there is too much reliance on public address systems in our church. It was quite funny recently when at the end of a farewell service for one of our ministers where there was lots of noise over the cup of tea someone came to me and said could I shout and ask for a car to be moved as I was the person with the loudest voice (not sure if this was a compliment)(it turned out to be the ministers car.
There were also comments made about the use of the lectionary and the almost zealous application of this in some places - I do use it but not all the time because some weeks the combinations of readings leave me feeling like Ezekiel in the valley of the dry bones. There is I believe a place for the lectionary and it can be extremely helpful but again it should be a tool for use by preachers that can be picked up or put down.
One of the writers felt the use of numerous people in a service was not always helpful and that if they go to a concert they do not expect members of the audience to get up part way through and go and play an instrument with the band - I can see the point here and do think we need to use other people in a balanced way.
There was concern expressed about the use of aids in services and again I think these need to be used in a balanced way and perhaps only with some of our congregations. There are some churches in our circuit where I would no more use a power point presentation than fly a kite and there are others where I would do all sorts of things - in fact on Sunday Evening gone we sat and made prayer beads in the service and this was very well received but it was balanced out by a fairly traditional hymn sandwich with the a short talk about how difficult prayer can be to lead into the making of the beads( see the Methodist Church website and search for the Venerable bead if you might like to try it).
I think it is important that we know our congregations and one of the things I have been doing with the on note local preacher I am working with is telling them the things about the different churches that are not on the circuit plan - the likes and dislikes of churches, the differences in the way the offering is received and what the congregations do at that point in the service (sit or stand) and about the various providers of music from a full organ to a CD player and a number of things in between.
There is probably much more I could write but this will have to do for now as I do have a day job and time to get ready is fast approaching.