Monday, April 12, 2010
It causes me great pain to say this, but this has become a season of "lasts." Time and again, I realize it is the last time at Baylor I will do something-- this week, for example, I had the bittersweet pleasure of teaching my last Crim. Prac. and Pro. class with Dr. Blaine McCormick. Four or five years ago, we came up with using his expertise in social science and negotiation to teach my students how to negotiate plea bargains. The result was wonderful-- probably the country's only law school course with such a sharp focus on such an important skill for criminal practitioners. Each time, I learned something from Dr. McCormick, and each time it was about something beyond negotiation-- it was about how to teach.
This Sunday, I woke up restless. For whatever reason, I wanted to go to a different church, so I went to Calvary Baptist here in Waco. It is a church I have been to only once before, but I wasn't exactly anonymous there-- my former student Aaron Mutnick was one of the greeters at the door.
The service was real and whole and spirit-filled. When it was time for the "Children's Message," I saw that the person giving that talk was none other than Blaine McCormick.
To begin, he gave each of the children a print of Melissa Miller's 1986 painting The Ark, the original of which hangs in the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth. He talked to them about the animals in the painting, but also about what was not actually in the painting-- the ark itself. Part of the ramp is visible, but that is all; the focus is on the animals, not the ship. In closing, he said that if someone painted their church, it should be like this-- a painting of the people, not the building.
As he told this story, I recognized something important: The key elements of his presentation were the same as those he used when he taught any group, even law students or other professors. He started by talking about himself, in this case, about a favorite painting. He used humor throughout, but only in ways that related directly to his message. He insisted on interaction, and knew the names of the people he was addressing. He focused on simple messages, but applied them to more complex situations. Finally, he made sure there was a "take-away"-- in this case, a print of the painting itself.
Speaking to children in the same whole, real, meaningful way he speaks to adults-- I expected nothing less. I will dearly miss these lessons.
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It's good to know there's at least one good children's message in town. Too often they have are disgusied as sermons for the adults. As a whole they don't seem to have a real place in worship.Post a Comment
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