The power of biblical metaphor

I recently came across a fascinating essay by George Orwell from 1946 on ‘Politics and the English Language.’ Orwell was such a remarkable character, with such insight, that anything he wrote is worth looking at. One of the most important things I did in my whole time in school was to have to read Animal Farm … Continue Reading

The most important thing in preaching

What would you say is the single most important thing in preaching—either as the person preaching or as someone who listens? I guess many people would suggest clarity of delivery, or humour, or connecting with the congregation, or being based in Scripture. All of these are of great importance, though of course all are open … Continue Reading

Rhetoric in Preaching

As we breathe a collective sigh of relief at the end of the party conference season, it is worth reflecting on the importance of rhetoric in public speech. Perhaps we agree with one half of the definition of rhetoric: Language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect, but which is often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content But anyone involved in … Continue Reading

Why is preaching so hard?

Many people in public ministry find that preaching is one of the most demanding things they are involved in. To put yourself and your theology on the line, to seek to offer an illuminating and life-transforming insight, week in, week out, is very tough! Why exactly does it feel so hard? There are some obvious … Continue Reading

The secret of a good all-age talk

Here are my Ten Commandments of speaking in an all-age context. What are yours? 1. Don’t call all-age services ‘Family Services’ However nicely you put it, using the term ‘family’ in any title will put off the (on average) 40% of your congregation who are not in a nuclear family. Even ‘Church Family’ does it. … Continue Reading

Preaching on narrative

Last week I had the interesting experience of preaching on Mark 14–15.15, which covers the anointing at Bethany, Judas agreeing to betray Jesus, the last supper, Gethsemane, Peter’s denial, Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin, and Jesus before Pilate. Whew! But I learnt a lot from the experience.

1. This is not the usual way we treat these passages—most of the time I would imagine we aim to preach on each episode in detail. That is one way to read them, but another (and probably more common) way of reading in the early centuries would have been to have heard larger pieces of narrative, and so have a better feel for the whole ‘shape.’ At St Nic’s we have been working through Mark, and

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