How do we speak well—of each other as ‘the church’?

Bryan Wolfmueller is a Lutheran pastor in Austin, Texas, who has an extensive ministry on radio and online on YouTube. He usually publishes twice a week on YouTube, including Sunday Drive Home, where (slightly unnervingly) he reflects on his Sunday sermon in the car as he drives home from church.

But he is a consummate communicator, and I previous both observed his online broadcast skills and conducted an interview with him about what is need for online preaching. I think we all needed help in the switch to online service, and many are still streaming services for people to watch at home. And many people who preach are reluctant to work on developing their skills in delivery, even though this is a vital part of preaching. As I have pointed out previously, we need good content in what we say to preach well, but we also need to learn the skills of delivery if we are to avoid preach badly.

So I was very struck by the short video he published last week ‘I like Jesus but not the Church’ in his occasional series ‘What-not’ on common questions or issues. I here offer comments at two levels: first, simply observing this as an example of great online and preaching communication; and secondly, reflecting on the content. If you are at all involved in preaching, teaching or communication, then first watch the video attending only to issues of communication. This is a discipline, since we are naturally drawn to listening to the content—but if we are going to become more effective communicators ourselves, we also need to learn the discipline of observing good communications skills and adapting and adopting them ourselves.

Here is what I observed; I have indented the issues which particularly relate to online speaking, to distinguish them from more general issues around communication.

The video is at an unusual angle—he appears to have his phone on his desk—and yet the composition of the shot is excellent, with his eyes in the upper half, so it is very natural for us as viewers to engage with him. This is one of the basics of online recoding to get right.

Bryan is very good at another basic discipline of online video work: he looks at the camera. You can tell he is recording on his phone, because very occasionally he is looking to his right, which is where the image of himself is. Again, a basic mistake of much phone recording is that people look at their own image, rather than the camera, which makes the viewer feel as thought the speaker is not engaging with them.

He gets straight to the meat of the issue, rather than having a long pre-amble. He needs to as this is only a six-minute video—but there is a style of preaching which has too many preliminaries and could do with getting to the point.

Although I think he has carefully prepared what he wants to say, he gives it an air of spontaneity by including short hesitations and by looking away thoughtfully. This gives the talk a sense of being conversational, so that we are engaged with rather than lectured at.

The conversational tone is helped online by being quite close to the camera, and speaking with a normal, conversational, voice. This gives it a feeling of intimacy, that he is speaking just to me.

Despite the elements of spontaneity, note that his words are actually quite precise and well crafted—there is no stumbling or hesitation or reformulating. He knows precisely what he wants to say—but delivers it in a spontaneous style.

It is striking that at 0.45 he immediately says that he thinks this attitude (‘I like Jesus but I don’t like the church’) is wrong—it comes as a surprise, and makes the listener wonder why he thinks this so clearly.

His illustration about someone saying they like him but not his wife comes with real emotional force—you can feel the emotion behind it. ‘Hey buddy’ is delivered with feeling, even though his speech is still very measured. There is a sense of anger and disappointment, gently expressed. Again, by looking to one side as he formulates this, it is as though he has just thought of it.

Notice his various of expression—the joy at his mention of his wife, and his puzzlement and disappointment that anyone should distinguish between them.

He repeats, emphasises and then pauses to allow his main point to sink in: ‘Jesus loves the church’.

At 1.26, he deploys a double, nested pair of a list of threes: ‘in spite of all her weaknesses, in spite of all of her failures, in spite of all of her sins, brokenness, blemishes…all of it…’ He does this again later.

Again, at 1.36 there is a change of emotion—of real delight that Jesus not only loves the church but likes it.

Note that, in communicating changes of emotion, he uses hand gestures, but keeps them controlled and within frame; if you look carefully, you can see these gestures are actually quite minimal. In speaking to camera, we need to adapt our hand gestures so that they look normal to those watching.

In terms of structure, the phrase ‘Jesus loves the church’ becomes like a gate opening into a wide courtyard of biblical material, which we then explore.

‘As a bridegroom delights over his bride’ is actually a quotation from Is 62.5, but Bryan does not make a big thing of saying so or giving a reference; he allows us as listeners to think ‘I am sure I have heard that before…’

At 1.56 there is another moment of acted spontaneity, as he recalls the text from Eph 5. By reciting the material from memory, rather than looking it up, he retains eye contact and engagement with us as viewers.

At 2.18 there is a good example of ‘anacolouthon‘, where he breaks off mid-sentence as a fresh idea appears to come to him. We find examples of this in Mark 2.10 and Eph 3.1. In speech this gives the impression that the speaker is caught up with the excitement of what he or she is saying.

He offers a double explanation of the idea that we begin to love the things that Jesus loves, giving a summary, then a fuller explanation, and then finally coming back at 2.52 to complete the sentence he broke off from at 2.18.

He then gets to the text in Rev 21 which has probably given rise to all this thinking—but instead of starting with it, and ideas flowing from it, he has already expounded and explained the ideas, so that the text immediately has credibility and meaning.

Note that he reads the text from a card, which is immediately below the camera. Wide angled cameras on phones exaggerate movements, so we only need to look down a little; actually looking down shows off the top of the speaker’s head, and is worth avoiding.

He continues to read the text fro Rev 21 with a genuine sense of delight and surprising, even laughing at it.

Note again how his gestures with his hands, which are right next to the camera, exactly fill the frame.

At 4.13, we get another set of nested triples:
‘The Lord says: you want to see something amazing?
You want to see something beautiful?
You want to see something wonderful,
and lovely,
and radiant?’

Powerful use of a pause after ‘Look at my bride, the church’ during which Bryan actually holds our gaze—which is quite a skill, considering he is just looking into his phone camera!

Note throughout the variation of pace. In introducing a range of new ideas, he speaks quite quickly, but when it comes to his key points, including his conclusion, he slows right down, and it not afraid to allow silence.

Having started at a place of disappointment or even anger (‘Hey, buddy!’) his rhetorical strategy is not to rebuke or to reprimand—but to love as Jesus loves. It is a positive and joyful corrective.

If there were other things you noticed in Bryan’s delivery, do add them in the comments below.

So much for the delivery; what about the content?

When I posted this video online, there were two sets of negative comments.

The first related to the meaning of ‘church’: is it about an institution, or a religious organisation, or about the people of God? This is a vital question, and one that Bryan does not tackle in this short video. One of the strengths of his message is that he is, in various ways, simply making one, single point: Jesus loves his ekklesia and so we should too.

In English, the word ‘church’ has quite a broad range of meanings, a broad ‘semantic range’. For most people, it primarily refers to a building (‘St John’s Church, Beeston’) or an institution (‘The Church of England’). This is why people can talk about ‘going to church’, meaning visiting a building on a Sunday morning, or ‘going into the church’ meaning being ordained in the institution. This kind of use reflects the etymology of ‘church’, which comes via the German Kirche from the Greek adjective kyriakos meaning ‘of the Lord [kyrios]’. This adjective only occurs twice in the New Testament, in 1 Cor 11.20 referring to the Lord’s supper, and in Rev 1.10, referring to the Lord’s day, which at that time probably still referred to the Sabbath, though with an important theological twist.

The Greek term that we translate ‘church’ is ekklesia, from which we get eglise in French and ‘ecclesiastical’ in English. Although etymologically related to ek and kaleo, ‘out’ and ‘to call’, the word does not mean ‘called out’, since words do not mean what their etymology says, as meaning is determined by usage. (We might well indeed be a people who are ‘called out’, but we cannot know that from the etymology of the term.)

This has two important background usages. The most immediate is the ekklesia of the Greek city, which is comprised of all free men over the age of 30, who meet to make decisions on the running and governance of the city. This relates to the idea of the people of God as citizens of the New Jerusalem, and Paul makes the comparison directly but implicitly in writing to those believers in the Roman colony of Philippi by inviting them to ‘live as citizens [of heaven]’ in Phil 1.27.

The second is that ekklesia is the term used in the Greek Old Testament for the ‘congregation of the sons of Israel’ (in the AV). This means that there is a central element of continuity between the people of God who are followers of Jesus, and the Israel of God in the OT—and this continues to be the case when gentiles who believe in Jesus are included even though they do not become Jews.

Given that there is such a different sense in the range of meanings of ekklesia in Greek and ‘church’ in English, I think there is a good case for never using the word ‘church’ in translation! When I taught in a theological college, I banned the word with reference to the people of God, because it always carries the baggage of building and institution.

When Bryan notes that the ‘church’ is the bride of Jesus, that Jesus loves the ‘church’ and we should do so too, he is talking about the ekklesia and not the building or the institution.

This then leads into the second objection that people raised online: how can we love ‘the church’ (the institution) if it is corrupt, or if we have experienced abuse or the misuse of power by its leaders and representatives?

This is no mere theoretical question, but pressing for institutions like the Church of England (in the light of historic abuse cases) but also for many individuals, including many clergy, who feel that they have been treated badly by the institution. Although I have not experienced abuse like others, I do myself have quite a long list of experiences of the misuse of power by leaders in the Church of England which I realise (often with hindsight) were abusive, at times leading to delay and uncertainty, financial penalty, personal pain, and even the loss of my job and home.

Interestingly, the Church of England’s own 39 Articles of Religion come to our aid here:

XIX. Of the Church.
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.

As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred, so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.

XX. Of the Authority of the Church.
The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.

Together, these two articles point to the complex relationship between the ekklesia of God, and any institution which calls itself a ‘church’. Ideally, ‘churches’ do represent the ekklesia, and potentially they become vehicles for the healthy growth of the people of God. Yet institutions are always an awkward admixture of the human and divine, and so they are subject to corruption and error, and often need serious challenge and reform.

What I find helpful in Bryan Wolfmueller’s exposition is that, in offer this challenge and calling for reform, our basic orientation must be this: Jesus loves the ekklesia, his bride, and calls us to love it too. If we are to see the various institutions we call ‘church’ becoming truer signs and expressions of that ekklesia, this love must be our primary motivation, and frame all that we do. That doesn’t prevent rebuke—after all, God himself says to the ‘lukewarm’ (that is, ineffective) ekklesia in Laodicea, ‘Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline’ (Rev 3.19).

But love is the goal, and love is the motivation. That is worth remembering whenever we start to criticise ‘the church’.

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66 thoughts on “How do we speak well—of each other as ‘the church’?”

  1. Sir

    ‘but there is a style of preaching which has too many preliminaries and could do with getting to the point’.

    I often find female preachers veer of the point’ they could have driven home by descending into monologues about relationships.

    This puts men off – who then proclaim that church is a place for women and children and, in time, fall away from church (taking their wives and children with them).

    Is it any wonder that men are to be found in the pub and football ground: confessing; cheering; roaring; singing; competing and occasionally fighting?

    I have never known a woman to preach with authority nor presence from the pulpit.

    • Sir,

      You have led a very sheltered life. I have heard women preach with authority and presence and many, many, men ramble on about nothing.

      Blessings, Jon

    • You should have come to listen to our curate a week last Sunday. She spoke with real presence and with a heart for Jesus.

      What a sweeping generalisation you’ve made !

      • Andrew Barton

        If you want women to have authority over you – then expect men to leave the church (along with their wives and children).

        Moreover, if sex is irrelevant to the priesthood then why should homosexuality and transgender be relevant?

        Do you people no longer think about the implications of your actions for the future of your churches?

        Your churches are dying.

        Do you people believe that putting a man in a skirt into the pulpit, will draw men from Selhurst Park?

    • I would suggest quite a few male preachers show little ‘authority’ in their sermons. From my experience female preachers are no different to their male counterparts – some are good some not so.

      But if youre seriously claiming that the reason men are not interested in attending church is because of female preachers, then that’s laughable. The vast majority of preachers over the last few decades have been men and remain so, yet most men arent too interested in the church. You can hardly blame that on women. I would suggest it is because ‘church’ tends to be rather boring, often having to sit through long sermons and pretty awful songs, and few actually make genuine friendships with other men in the congregation. I suspect God (please dont strike me down) would sometimes rather be in a pub or football grounds with His genuine friends enjoying their companionship. Is that not what the next life is going to be about anyway?!


          • Simon

            It is written: How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?

          • simon – you really think that women should be kept out of the pulpit – and that their role is `kirche kuchen kinder’? (which is what the `birthing chamber’ of Genesis seems to suggest – along with everything else).

            My own Christian roots go back to the Salvation Army – where the roles of men and women (at least as far as leading the fellowship and leading worship, giving the sermon, etc …) were always equal.

            Anything else seems somewhat neanderthal to me.

            People have come to faith through the Salvation Army.

          • No Jock – my comments were aimed at D Singh’s shocking dismissal of women in ministry. I am a champion of women’s ministry – as indeed is the Holy Spirit who anointed women prophets at pentecost, established women church leaders in Rome ( Junia/Priscilla) and throughout the ages has used them to bring people to Jesus.

          • simon – thanks! – very relieved to hear it!

            Yes – that’s what I thought, based on what you’d written before (but your comment came as a reply under mine).

            I thought that this issue had basically been sorted out in the 19th century (the Salvation Army had a very good line on it) – and I’m somewhat surprised that 200 years later it still seems to be contentious.

          • Origen Adam – yes, I obviously know this sacred scripture
            Whatever the author meant by it, and that is not by no means clear in context, clearly Paul did not hold to it in practise, as he did permit a woman to teach: he honoured women apostles (Junia), women teachers (Priscila) and entrusted his greatest epistle Romans to a business woman to deliver to the church, and this would include reading & explaining (to Pheobe)

          • Edit – above statement badly written & sent before checking, but you get my point – the Timothy text that some read as a ‘for all time’ prohibition on women preaching was not Paul’s actual practise

          • Origen, I do find it amusing when liberals proof text as if that proves anything. You are becoming quite the fundamentalist!

            On a serious note, this kind of facile proof-texting does nothing to contribute to the discussion. Please contribute in a better way.

    • ” “How do we speak well—of each other as ‘the church’?”
      Might I enquire as to your personal reflection on this?

  2. How to train preachers is a difficult question. Preachers do need to learn to communicate and I think basic skills can be taught. Eg. Structure, clarity of ideas, voice projection, repetition etc. The thing to be avoided is creating someone inauthentic.

    I like the puritan advice for ‘plain’ preaching. Plain preaching normally communicates. I wonder too if there is a need for Billy Graham type gospel messages more often especially in mixed multitude churches.

    Love is vitally important but so too is calling out false teachers etc.

    Ian, I am sorry for the opposition you have experienced. That must have been very difficult.

  3. Jock

    It is written: As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

  4. Incidentally Ian, I notice the articles seem to teach that the church is a custodian of Scripture. Andrew Godsall seems to think the 39 articles are not really authoritative now and Scripture he seems to feel liberty to discount when it runs counter to his ideas. Is he right in these matters.

      • The 39 articles do not have to be accepted entirely. The C of E is quite clear about this as Ian should know

        “In 1968, a report on Subscription and Assent to the 39 Articles was produced by the Archbishops’ Commission on Christian Doctrine. Focusing in particular on the approach to Scripture set out in the Articles, it called for the then current Declaration of Assent to be changed, so that it would ‘not tie down the person using it to acceptance of every one of the Articles’, and would leave open ‘The possibility of fresh understandings of Christian truth’, while also leaving room ‘for an appeal to the Articles as a norm within Anglican theology’. “

        The declaration was accordingly changed.

          • Oh dear. It helps to read the whole thing

            The declaration was “changed, so that it would ‘not tie down the person using it to acceptance of every one of the Articles’, and would leave open ‘The possibility of fresh understandings of Christian truth’, while also leaving room ‘for an appeal to the Articles as a norm within Anglican theology’. “

            A norm, not THE norm

  5. Hi Ian and Bryan,
    Just got round to listening to the video. Absolutely excellent. Thanks.
    All scripture based.
    The Bride is like:
    Rebecca, from distant relative to heiress of Sarah’s Tent.
    Esther, from orphan to Queen.

  6. John,
    I did ask Andrew G that question some while ago. He will need to answer for himself, but I think he does not discount all of them as such, but regards others as being historically contextual and have little or no relevance for today.

    XXXVII. OF THE CIVIL MAGISTRATES is one example I believe.

  7. I don’t wish to be contentious but it may be worth commenting on why God would not normally (remember Deborah) have women preachers though in situations of weakness he may use women as preachers.

    I guess we must remember that this is all tied into patriarchy, a model which society rejects and many in the churches do too. I find it difficult to miss in Scripture. It is not simply that patriarchy existed in Biblical days but it is upheld in the Bible. It is found in the order of creation In Gen 2 and is repeated in various ways in Scripture.

    Paul’s injunction that woman should not teach (in the church) was based on the order of creation (the man was created first) and the woman’s apparent greater susceptibility to error (Adam was not deceived the woman was). Now clearly the latter is a generalisation yet I wonder how many of the women preachers in the C of E proportionately are solid biblical preachers of God’s word.

    I am not against women. I know women much more able in many ways than I am. I believe I am simply listening to the text.

    • John Thomson

      It seems to me that some women do have a teaching role:

      Titus 2:4-5

      4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

      5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

  8. The absolute irony of a post about ‘communicating well’ being the subject of some incredibly generalised and divisive comments. 🙂

    “Despite the elements of spontaneity, note that his words are actually quite precise and well crafted—there is no stumbling or hesitation or reformulating. He knows precisely what he wants to say—but delivers it in a spontaneous style.”

    I think this is a good observation. Many of the better TED talks, and a few of the philosophy/theology YouTube channels do this as well, and it’s quite hard to do right. Being measured and precise while simultaneously coming across as informal and conversational is a real talent.

  9. Rev Psephizo

    It seems to me that a proto preacher would do well to regularly read out, aloud, passages from the King James Bible so that they become part and parcel of his soul. Here, in Lincoln and Churchill you can hear the rhythms and cadences of the King James.

    Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

    But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

    President Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address
    November 19, 1863

    “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day; but we must never forget that all the time, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skill, aim their attacks, often under the heaviest fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war-making structure of the Nazi power. On no part of the Royal Air Force does the weight of the war fall more heavily than on the daylight bombers, who will play an invaluable part in the case of invasion and whose unflinching zeal it has been necessary in the meanwhile on numerous occasions to restrain.”

    “The Few”, Prime Minister Churchill’s speech to The House of Commons, on August 20, 1940

    • Yes, reading good speeches is helpful, and we studied this kind of material in my preaching classes for nearly 10 years.

      But the AV is not such a good example, as its poetry is so dated, and it is not nearly as accurate a translation as good modern ones.

      • In my experience, if you look at the ESV, NIV and the KJV then it is the KJV that is almost always in the majority report.

        The poetry bearing the resemblance to Shakespeare is both timeless and historic.

        • It is of its time as the incarnation was of its time. But it is timeless as it is the Bible for the English peaking people. If you read the Puritans, you are reading the King James – the Weskeyians, the King James.

          It is the language in which the schoolchild learns to pray. It is a beauty seeped into life. To a certain extent it is modern English, not merely an example of modern a English but it’s endurance us why the language has not gone off the rails until now.

          As I say regarding ‘poor translation’: the ESV and NIV must also be poor translation since almost always at least one will agree with the King James reading:

    • “passages from the King James Bible”

      But the KJB needs translation if most people are to hear in their own language…

  10. Agree very much with the positive comments on style and delivery.
    On content I’m wondering about the way he uses the ‘bride of Christ’ language, expanding it to include the concept of spouse in an ongoing marriage. It strikes me that the Biblical language of ‘bride’ is predominantly (perhaps not exclusively) used to characterise the expressions of delight and celebration that occur at the point of ‘bride meets groom’ or the delayed anticipation of that moment – but not so much the ongoing marriage relationship itself. So I find his analogy of ‘love me, love my wife’ misplaced and even potentially misleading. I wonder what others think?

    • Interesting observation Pete.
      My wife says a lot of junior school stories end with , ‘…it was all a dream and they all went home for tea. The End.’
      Most romances end with: ‘and they lived happily ever after.’
      Whatever next?
      Who knows!
      Whatever it is, the metaphors and allusions in the Bible will not have misdirected us.

    • Hi Pete

      I would think like you bride is intended to capture the flush of love and adoration we associate with the wedding. At the same time the church is called the Lamb’s wife. Rev. 21:9.

      Of course when John looks at the bride he sees a city.

    • The bride of Christ:
      Jesus marries not because his bride is holy, but to make her lovely; not because she is lovely, but to make her lovely; not because she is rich but to make her rich; not because she has made a name for herself, but to give her his; not because she is faithful, but because he is; not because she loves him but to set his steadfast love on her; not because she is fruitful, but to make her fruitful; not because she is a princess, but because he is Prince; not because she has an inheritance, but to bestow one on her; not because she has any glory in herself but to bring him glory as he brings glory to her, in union with him.

    • Hi Pete,

      I suggest that Jesus comes as the bridegroom (John 3:29), pays the bride-price on the cross (1 Cor 6:20; 2 Cor 11:2), thus the church era is the betrothal period and the eschaton the wedding supper (Revelation 19:9).

      He comes as the bridegroom because it is a new covenant, not a renewal of the Mosaic Covenant—in that case he would have come as a reconciling husband.

      • And you might notice that in the examples Bryan Wolfmueller gives of what Christ delivers us from—it is not from Adam—a concept Reformed theologians argue for but not found in the text of Scripture.

        • Colin,
          It could be suggested that it is indeed deliverance into a new birth, in Christ, the last Adam, a new humanity in Christ. Or adoption, to use another word. Either way, it is a movement from one position to a changed one, from one family line to another.
          To which, do you belong, how and why?

  11. Hi Ian,

    As I try to train and mentor lay preachers in our church, your comments are really helpful in relation to style and technique. Many of the points you make are also vital to good preaching at the lecturn, such as the need for careful, precisely chosen words, delivered in an apparently spontaneous manner; for the right moment and duration of pausing, with eye contact, etc.

  12. On topic.

    Over at Anglican Mainstream a link is provided to videos produced by the Church of England Evangelical Council:

    “In the New Testament, disagreement is allowed on certain areas. In the areas of sexuality, however, there is no latitude, there is no area in which this is called ‘adiaphora’ or indifference and therefore I don’t believe we are at liberty to simply rewrite scripture and introduce into the life of the church areas in which the early Church of the apostles were very clear as to what the Lord was teaching us”, says Keith Sinclair, National Director, CEEC.

    I found the videos humbling and inspiring. Somebody has, obviously, sat down and prayed for many hours over them. There was another strong impression – that the young, all over the nation, will watch them in secrecy.

    Yes, praying before one records.

    • Ah, but who arbitrates on what we can agree and disagree on?

      Within Protestantism there is no magisterium, so we all split into different camps and congregations. Some agree with women leading, some don’t. Some agree that gays can marry, some don’t. Is there a universal truth about these contentious issues?

  13. I watched it – and listened to it.

    I’d say there is some `sleight of hand’ here – where he talks about `love’ and then switches to `like’ as if the two things are somehow equivalent. It is possible to love somebody (in the sense in which Scripture uses the word love) without actually liking them.

    Once one has grasped this basic point, I’m not sure that his message stands. (Of course, if we love Christ, then we love His church, but with all its faults, it is difficult not to have sympathy with people who don’t like the church).

    • I think that Romans 7 is important here – Paul (writing 1st person singular present tense – a mature Christian) makes it clear that we are all, in this life, in some sense overwhelmed by the sinful nature; we do not really the `innermost being’ in all its glory, without the down-drag of the sinful nature until the next life. Jesus sees right through the `sinful nature’ and sees the `innermost being’. And while we love our fellow Christians, it can be very hard to actually like them.

      With this video, I’m not a fan of the communication style, but if it works for some people – and successfully communicates the gospel message to them, then I won’t criticise the style – it is clearly good for a certain audience.

  14. Good for a certain audience. And for the subject matter. The usual American delivery, like a sergeant major before recruits, would not be appropriate here; like a king before his people it’s not. Nor is it like a snake on a rock or a ship in full sail. More like a man with a maid.
    I like Ian’s delivery; like a pharmacist before a troubling itch. Sorry…just joking.


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