At any time in the local Church its probable there could be people who struggle to understand English. Lay Preacher’s will be aware of the special make up of each Congregation and Preach for maximum penetration of the message. The modern Church is likely more cosmopolitan and multicultural than has historically been the case.
Ethnic diversity is increasing in New Zealand. According to the latest 2013 Census results, our five largest ethnic groups are New Zealand European, Māori, Chinese, Samoan, and Indian. Our smallest ethnic groups include Greenlander, Sardinian, and Latin American Creole. Some of the biggest increases since the 2006 Census came from groups within the broader Asian category, spearheaded by the Chinese, Indian, and Filipino ethnic groups. During the seven-year period between censuses, increases in these groups were:
- Chinese – up 16 percent to 171,000 people
- Indian – up 48 percent to 155,000
- Filipino – more than doubled to 40,000.
Preaching needs to be relevant and inclusive of the mix of people likely to be in the congregation. In the Oratory with purpose seminar reference is made to ‘knowing your audience’. There certain things you can say, do or expect in a comfortable middle class predominantly European congregation which you would not in a multi cultural or ethnic congregation.
There are many and varied styles of Preaching or Worship found throughout our Churches. We must be accommodating and make allowances for this diversity. As it says in Matthew 24:14 “And this Good News about the Kingdom will be preached through all the world for a witness to all people; and then the end will come”. Rev Rob Yule wrote a paper whilst Reviewing the film ‘The Apostle’ (1998) entitled “‘Preaching as an Art Form” published in “Reality” (Bible College of New Zealand), Vol. 5, No. 29 (October – November 1998), pp. 46-47. Rob has kindly shared his article with us Preaching as an Art Form