Global Homiletics

Have you ever found yourself communicating from the pulpit when a story you thought would land your main point fell seriously short? Have you ever made a playful comment hoping to invoke laughter, only to find out later that you offended someone?  I have.  It doesn’t feel good.  More importantly, the opportunity to share your message has failed to reach someone who could have needed it. The way we communicate from the stage is crucial to helping some receive the good news.

Our homiletic is our philosophy of how we preach or teach to a congregation or large group.  It’s our style or way we approach speaking in public.  Some of our homiletic is developed quickly, while other parts of it are refined over years.  While homiletics is taught in seminaries around the world, perhaps our typical western homiletic is falling short these days due to globalization.

I remember taking homiletics in seminary.  I loved it.  It was a chance to refine my presentation and prepare exegetical information for the consumption of my community.  We focused on the research and preparation.  We focused on key presentation styling.  But perhaps most of all, homiletics classes across North America spend a large portion of their time finding ways to communicate authentically and contextually.  We practice talking about things that are relevant to those in our community.  We use moves, music and pop references to prove our points, or help draw conclusions for our hearers.  We rely on old idioms or sayings to land that big point.

With globalization, our church communities are changing.  We are finding that more and more people in our congregations are coming from different backgrounds and cultural stimulations.  Those same homiletical tactics we have been trained on are needing updates.  Perhaps homiletics 2.0.  Our global audience online is also needing a clearer connection from the scriptures we preach to the lives they live.  But our old stories are only working for about half of our communities.  We need to be aware and make changes accordingly.

Cultural Intelligence is a four part model for cross cultural success.  It shows us a way to go from motivations to successful and meaningful work.  Using CQ, our global homiletics can reflect an awermenss of our cultural congregations.

1.  CQ Why (Drive) – This is what is motivating us to cross cultures.  Our why for our homiletic will usually be for people to hear a message.  But too often our why does not include a desire for people to receive the message as they truly need to receive it.  It’s too easy to simply preach for our own good what sounds good to us.  That is, we put the message out there and if people don’t receive it, it’s their problem.  This is not helpful, but we will do even more damage to a global community if we don’t focus on how they will receive our message.  Our WHY must be driven by a need to have people receive the message in their own way.  This means the message is not about the speaker, but the listener.  If you are more interested in hearing your own message than having people receive it, you will probably not find success cross culturally in your newly globalized communities.

2. CQ What (Knowledge).  This is that part of homiletics we spend a lot of time on.  It’s the information we use to communicate our message.  We might reference a movie or song.  But in a globalized community, we need to expand our “google” searches on pop culture to more global contexts.  In a Korean wedding I preformed, I researched Korean weddings.  Seems simple.  But I had to put my own strengths or practices aside to work on presenting my message in a culturally intelligent mannor.  I needed to use references that were new to me, and at some level,  hope for the best.  It worked.  CQ knowledge in our homiletic will expend our workload, but incase our success.

3.  CQ How (Strategy).  Once we know that we are driven for our globalized community to receive the message (WHY), and we have found new information or knowledge on connecting some dots in our presentation (WHAT), we must strategize on how to communicate (HOW).  This can be very difficult at first.  We need to study preaching, teaching, presentation from other cultures, learning that even our body language can speak differently to other cultures.  For example, to many cultures in the world, giving a thumbs up, is considered profane and sexually explicit.  We must strategize how to communicate.

4.  CQ When (Behavioural).  When you finally find yourself speaking to your community, you also need to be ready to change at a moments notice.  Learning how to speak cross culturally is tough.  I have made many mistakes, but without fail, I have found success in one behaviour lesson.  Speak slowly and clearly.  This can give you great presentation and verbal authority.  Even if your used to speaking fast and loud, you will find that adjusting your own style for the sake of the audience will produce results.  You will have to have a solid CQ WHY here.  Because it’s not about you up there, it’s about the community hearing the message of Jesus.

Our global homiletic is changing how we present the good news about relationship and life with Jesus.  We must be prepared to change how we speak at times however.  While some may feel that this is a lack of integrity on the part of speaker, or a failure for them to be authentically themselves, the reality is clear.  We don’t lead for ourselves, we lead for others.  Let us be found sharing the news about Jesus in a way that can be received by our globalizing communities.