The Theology of Entertainment

Preachers today live in a highly competitive world. The art of communication is being developed and honed in so many ways. The preacher needs to become more aware of these skills and become conversant with them. This is a huge task that faces the church as we seek to communicate with a world that has become focused on the visual image and an interactive form of communication. here is a little film we produced a last Christmas based on the theme " Missing You" let's hear what you think. [kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /] Even the very term preaching has been devalued to mean something different in our currency. It means to harp on, it means to be an irritant it means something quite derogatory to preach at someone it to harangue them. let me for the next few sentences share with you what I call the theology of entertainment. First and foremost I want to suggest that all successful preaching or should I say public speaking or communication should be in its very nature entertaining. Now to use such a word in the context of proclaiming the unsearchable riches of Christ may seem to some a little flippant. Entertainment for some has an association with "the world the flesh and the devil" To talk about preaching in an entertaining way for some is to talk in a light hearted manner. It is to be frivolous. Can I suggest that entertainment is a most devalued word and requires to be rethought when we talk about preaching and teaching. Can I suggest another definition of entertainment. It is to allow one's self and others to enter into or engage with an idea or a command or a notion, in such a way that they enter into the concept and are detained by it. Thus they have been "entertained" All good preaching to my mind should have first and foremost an element of surprise to it. We need to find ideas, and illustrations that grab the attention of the listener. Too often those who listen are switched off in the first two sentences. The prophets knew all about this and they were able to engage with people in an astounding way. Take for instance the story in the Bible about God calling Moses to be a freedom fighter. Let us take this story and see how It is an excellent example of good communication. The first thing to notice is that the burning bush was not a surprise to Moses. He had seen many a burning bush in the desert. It happened regularly. The point to this story is that God used a very regular occurrence in a "surprising way". The Bush kept on burning. Now that was the surprise that drew Moses toward the bush. The Bush caught his attention. Good communication will seek to catch your attention often in a surprising way. Secondly the "entering in" to the idea is what I call being detained. That experience of engaging,reflecting and making connections. This is the aspect of communication that seeks to nurture the listener in such a way that they are encouraged challenged and developed and even distrurbed. Thus Moses takes on board the whole call to go to Egypt and be a freedom fighter. Good communication must engage and bring about a result or action. The third thing is a message may be received but it is often received to be passed on. Good communication creates a passion or reason or a cause in the listener to enable and empower them to pass on the message. Part of this is in the receiving there has to be a believing. The believing causes a stirring within the individual to pass on the message. Moses was stirred by God yet he gave reasons why he couldn't do it. He felt he didn't have the eloquence necessary. The point here is that Moses was the connector. He knew the palace. He knew the Pharaoh but above all he knew Aaron. He was the key to making the next part of the communication work. All this teaches me that, when we communicate ideas we need to do so in a way that makes connections happen in the head of the listener. Thus Moses finds himself leading a people in a partnership with his brother Aaron. Maybe we should be asking who has God lined up to be our spiritual partner.
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