June 24, 2010


A discussion arose at a meeting I attended last week.  It was a good discussion.  The topic was a flyer that had been sent out in the organization's name.

The person who brought the topic up said that the flyer spoke more about what the organization was against, and less about what the organization was for.  The single image on the flyer was an image that was intended to rile people up. The impression one got from looking at the flyer is that our organization was filled with anger and hostility.

During the discussion, some folks mentioned that, as an organization that promoted peace and understanding, it was sometimes necessary to take a stand against certain evils.  Others said that, while that was true, we needed to do so in a way that was loving, and which emphasized the alternative, more peaceful path.

What the discussion did was make us consider the importance of matching the way in which we communicate with the message we intend to convey.  We are an organization of peace and understanding.  While it may be necessary to acknowledge and even come out against activities that are opposed to peace and understanding, we must remain peaceful in our message and our medium.

This week, as I thought about our discussion, I started thinking about my preaching.  There are two things which, I think, have the potential to negatively affect my preaching.  One is the prevalence of preachers (mostly on TV) who like to yell a lot.  Many of these preachers are yelling to stadium-sized crowds who, presumably, are attracted by preachers who yell.  Consciously or not, the thought develops that successful preachers are preachers who yell.

A second thing that has the potential to negatively my preaching is our sound-bite culture.  News and information comes fast, delivered by slick, fast-speaking, high-volume criers. 

Neither of these two ways of conveying information are compatible with the message I seek to proclaim, which is, like the organization's who's meeting I attended last week, a message of peace.  What is appropriate is a softer, friendlier tone, a tone that conveys peace.

Of all the preachers I've seen and heard, there is one whose style of preaching seems most conducive to a message of peace and love.  OK, don't laugh; the person I'm talking about is Tanana from the movie Brother Bear.   The way she speaks conveys truth, and yet is so full of love.  (I probably shouldn't have used the word "yet," because it implies that truth and love are opposites, when really,  truth is love.)

Anyway, I don't know if I will ever achieve a style of preaching that is 100% peaceful, with no anxiety, no anger, no hostility, and no impression that I am "competing" with other preachers.  If I do achieve it, it will likely take a lifetime.

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