Friday, 20 October 2017

Whole-Life Preaching

I’ve been involved with a project at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (where I work) on Whole-Life Preaching.

LICC works with churches, church leaders, denominations, and individual Christians to explore what it means to be disciples of Jesus in the so-called ordinary, everyday life, and how local churches might best serve their people to live out their callings wherever they find themselves.

We’re persuaded that becoming a whole-life disciplemaking church is not about a programme we bolt on to a church’s activities, but about being given eyes to see what God has already put in place – in the gospel, in his word, in the church, in a people indwelt by the Spirit who are empowered to be Christ’s witnesses in their daily lives. It’s about reframing what we already do through the regular means of grace in the life of a church – how we preach, how we worship when we gather together, how we run our small groups. What are the small shifts that churches might make in these areas which, over time, will make a difference to how people are discipled for the whole of their lives?

Whole-Life Preaching flows out of that larger commitment.

It’s the culmination of several years of working with my colleague Neil Hudson, and spending a significant amount of time with preachers and leaders from around the UK from different church traditions in seminars and workshops.

We’ve tried to capture something of that informal interaction in this resource – which is a series of 6 short videos (excellently produced by owlinspace) of us in conversation with each other, interspersed along the way with reflections from a series of experts, listeners, and preachers.

All six videos are freely available from here.

With each episode goes a downloadable pdf with some questions for reflection and discussion, and suggestions of things to try out. Our testing of the videos suggested that church preaching teams, in particular, would benefit from watching the videos and using hem as a basis for a discussion with each other, and we trust that proves to be the case.

It’s important to make clear that we’re not trying to offer a full-blown overview of homiletics in this resource! We have friends in various organisations which focus on preaching; they do great work, and we’ve not tried to replicate that.

But we wanted to dial up the significance of allowing a whole-life disciplemaking perspective to inform the preparation and delivery of sermons, of recognising that through Scripture God shapes his people for their calling in the world, and encouraging preachers to reflect on the implications of biblical passages in a way that is alert to the everyday contexts in which members of congregations find themselves.

For us, whole-life preaching flows out of a confidence in the scope of God’s loving rule over all things, from a commitment to the gospel of Christ and its implications for every aspect of life, and from a conviction that the Spirit works through Scripture to form and nurture the people of God for his good purposes in the world.

It’s in that light that we trust preachers and others will benefit from this resource.

Also on the LICC website (from here) is a set of resources on 1 Thessalonians – a pack for preachers with some background to the letter and some pointers for preaching it, and a set of Bible study questions for small groups to go alongside a series on the letter.

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