Sunday, February 19, 2017

shedding light, opening windows

It is becoming one of my favourite teaching sessions. The goal is to shed light on a critical word in the character of a preacher and then to open a window on the places in the preaching ministry where this word has relevance.

We start by splitting people into pairs. "I am going to put a single word on the whiteboard and in your pairs I'd like you to agree on another single word that describes its meaning for you. OK?!" This past Thursday I had the mother of all whiteboards with which to work. It covered an entire wall. Pedagogical heaven.

Up goes the word: integrity

After their discussions, each pair is invited to write their word nearby to 'integrity' on the whiteboard. Always, always, always - the range of words is fascinating. Rarely is their much repetition. 'Integrity' has so many layers and nuances. The semantic range is wide. The connotations are endless. Each pair speaks to their word - and the conversation gets started, as we listen and learn from each other.

What I didn't say is that I ensure that each pair shares the same mother tongue, or heart language. In this country there are plenty of languages from which to choose! So the next thing I ask them to do is to agree on the word in their language that best describes integrity. Up on the board it goes - again, nearby to 'integrity'. People love their own heart language. It is fun to hear the settings in which this word is used by their people. Through all of this interaction, light is shed on the meaning of integrity.

Having shed light on what the word 'integrity' means, the windows are opened on the preaching ministry itself. Where is integrity a challenge for the preacher? "Come up with your three most important reflections. OK?!" After some discussion in their pairs, they are invited to write one of their reflections on the whiteboard. But there is a catch. If their idea is already up there before they get there, they have to select a different reflection from their list. In this way everything written on the board - on the far left above, where the windows can be seen - affirms something different about the challenge of integrity in preaching.

Then I like to turn to the Bible for a few minutes (although I forgot to do this on Thursday - gulp?!). "What are the words in the Bible which convey the idea of 'integrity'?" This week they embark on an assignment where they are to find 'logos-pathos-ethos' in the Pastoral Epistles. Methinks they'll have a few words by the end of this exercise. 'Blameless' will emerge, I'm sure. It always does. Another exercise is to have each pair agree on one person in the Bible known for their integrity and one person known for their lack of integrity. Get the names up on the board and draw out of the class the reason why this is the case...

After all the discussion, it is great to return to the pairs and have them share with each other where a specific challenge with integrity lies for them - and have them pray for each other, in their heart language!

... and then, finally, we get to the written notes I've prepared :).

nice chatting


PS 1: I had decided to write a post on this exercise, but when I discovered that the photos had light being shed and windows being opened, there was no holding me back.

PS 2: My focus here is on preacher training - but the same exercise could be done with leadership training.

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