Friday, August 28, 2015

Old Innovation

Change and innovation in church life and ministry is prized by many and resisted by others.

Following advice by Rick Warren to ensure in reading that the whole of church wisdom was dipped into from the ancient to the modern, I keep being surprised how much of modern innovation is actually quite old.

Reading about Samuel Medley a preacher and hymn writer who lived from 1738-99 I found that he was looked on as a bit of a rebel who did things a little different.

He was renowned for preaching on just one word. But, Not or His..

Frustrated that his congregation couldn't sing the hymn's because of a shortage of hymnbooks, he ditched the hymnbook and printed the songs on broadsheets. On attending the service he handed everyone a copy and all could join in. I'm wondering if he was the first to remove the hymnbook? Long before the argument I remember in the late 70's in my home church about the use of an OHP?

He would also often, pen a hymn, that went with the text he was preaching that day. Was he the first to plan a service so that one spiritual point or lesson could be empahasised in the minds of his congregation.

This was also done by none other than the famous John Newton and his friend and hymn writer William Cowper. Each week they would meet up in the orchard that connected their two Olney homes. John would share his text and topic and William would compose a song that would reinforce the message. These were often at the same rhythm as the looms in the local lace mills would beat at so people could sing as they worked.

Reading a little of our history would really help us contextualise the present. Maybe the new thing we get excited about is really quite old and not to be prized or feared but to be held lightly in the shadow of the infinitely important - the message of Jesus


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