Preaching in a multicultural city

9 04 2013

If you are ministering in a city, anywhere in the world, you should be aware that you are preaching to an audience that brings many different worldviews. The challenge is, you as a preacher have one worldview. It is your lens through which you view everything. So it is your task to try to understand something of the various worldviews in your audience and attempt to commuPreachernicate clearly to them.

The Scriptures are written exclusively by writers from eastern worldviews. They were Middle Easterners. As such their worldview contrasts significantly from the western worldview. The eastern worldview cannot be generalized for there are many variations within it. Yet, in contrast to a more western worldview, we can say that easterners have a more cyclical than linear perspective. When a preacher or teacher from a western worldview expounds the Bible, he will try to put events in a chronological line-up from beginning to end; he will tend to put things in an outline format. But the eastern mind is more cyclical and holistic. Events come and go in iterations. Everything is in play. This is especially significant in interpretation of prophecy. But that is a huge subject when one talks of hermeneutics as it relates to the worldview of the interpreter versus that of the human author.

A practical consideration regarding preaching is that of methodology. Some of your listeners (in a multicultural context) are oral learners while you may be of a literate/reading culture. If you are seminary trained you most certainly received a literate education and learned a literate preaching style using an outline. You tend to lead with the main point and then develop it with textual material and illustrations. This is the method I learned and as a westerner find most convenient.

However, some of your audience is oral, i.e. they learn better through stories and concrete examples or objects. They do not find it easy to think in the abstract. The preacher who wants to communicate clearly to them will seek to use story often. When he gives illustrations, they will not be abstract but concrete. For example, the oral/concrete learner envisions a round shape and thinks of its practical use, such as a pot or a floor mat. If an abstract-think describes a circle as representative of all humanity, or of the sphere of influence, he will not be connecting with the oral learners in his audience.

The best way to proceed is to have some conversations with attenders from African, Middle Eastern, and some (south) Asian countries and ask what aspects of your preaching they find most helpful. You could be brave and ask what aspects of your preaching do not communicate so clearly.


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