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dale campbell: on monologue and conversation

Before I went to Carey Baptist College and began learning how much I didn’t know, I went through a season of questioning the relevance and value of preaching. I resonated with the complaints that preaching was a “monstrous monologue by a moron to mutes”. I was nearly convinced that “conversations” were better ways of discerning the voice of the Spirit (i.e. the Jerusalem Council – Acts 15), and that “monologues” created passive congregations that did not think, and silenced those that wanted to.

Obviously I’ve moved on!

My conviction about a God who speaks through his incarnate and written word deepened. I learned that un-sharp sermons, un-conversational styles, un-discerning speakers, and un-listening sitters only characterised some preaching – far from all of it. I had nearly thrown the baby out with the dirty bath-water.

But I do try to remember ways of making my monologues conversational. Here are some ideas I’m aware of:

  • Enlist a person or group to give you honest, constructive criticism. Try to have this representative across age, educational and other spectrums.
  • Use social media (i.e. facebook or a blog) to initiate and welcome feedback and questions.
  • Invite questions or thoughts from the congregation during or after the sermon.
  • Use rhetorical questions and ‘we’ language to be more inclusive.
  • Carve out time in a sermon or service for group discussion time where a leader from each group shares insights from their discussions.
  • Try a dual-preacher sermon.

Some of these I’ve even been able to do. But please do chime in below. I’d be most grateful for others to ‘converse’ below and throw in their ideas or thoughts.

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