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Sunday 17 July 2011

Encouraging frank sermon feedback (with apologies to Benjamin Zephaniah)

Be kind to yu preachers dis Sunday
Cos’ preachers just need to know—
What you’s hearing, how it’s grooving,
Touchin hearts, or changing minds?
Be kind to yu preachers dis Sunday.
Don’t smile, shake hands and pass on.
No ‘nice sermon Vicar’ that just leaves ’em wond’rin
Whether it was heard worthy of pond’rin at all.

So be kind to yu preachers dis Sunday –
Not polite, not reserved, not squeamish,
Not indiffer’nt, not respectful, not avoidin –
the one thing they long to really know.
Tell ’em straight, give ’em feedback, let ’em see
If you was shifted or touched by what they sermonized.
And if you wasn’t? Well, don’t hold fire,
Preachers need you to be honest. Tell em, ‘No prize.’

Preachers just wanna make connections
Preachers just wanna lift souls
Don’t you let ’em be vapid bellows—
The only hot air in de building when the stone walls give off their chill.
No sideshow, they’s a part of yus action.
Let them voices be tones to enthral you,
Let them words carve spaces in your mind
Tellin’ of goodness, and a grace that’s infinitely kind.

I once knew a preacher called ....... Preacher
Who, going each Sunday to tell it—
That gospel for sinner and saint,
Thought ’is words so stirring and compelling
And never once received comment or complaint.
’E ended ’is days disillusioned
On overhearing, behind a Tesco stack, ’is name
Pronounced clearly—as a boring and tedious hack.

So be kind to yu preachers dis Sunday
Own the work, make it yours, not theirs alone.
If the listenin’ stirs yu soul, then signal;
If the listenin’ comes hard, let ’em know.
We’s the Body of Jesus assembled, each wid a part
In dis message dat brings in new life.
Preachers and ’earers TOGETHER. Get it?
Speakin’ AND listenin’ – no boredom, no strife.

Inspiration drawn from Benjamin Zephaniah's poem Talking Turkeys in the book of the same name published by Puffin Books.

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