So I’m taking an online writing class. We (the Youthworker Circuit) signed me up for it, hoping to find a couple of nuggets for expanding our invisible empire of Wesleyanism. It may yet yield something; unfortunately it begins with addressing people to whom it had not yet occurred to write anything, ever. So there’s some very, very basic instruction happening in the first few sessions. Like: sit down, hands on keyboard, write something. Etc.
One of the early concepts is also hovering around the notion of developing “voice.” This, essentially, is you saying things the way you would say them. Which sounds nice, but the idea of voice is quickly more complicated than that. If you told a fifth grader to tell jokes the way you would tell jokes he would immediately need to know if mom was going to walk in just ahead of the punchline. You tell jokes differently when mom is around.
The idea behind finding your voice is so that you can begin to establish your platform and your audience, made up, in theory, of persons that identify with not just your message but the way you deliver your message. Easy enough to do, I suppose, provided that everyone else in your life that you’d ordinarily have to answer to will suddenly be cool with you revealing the true, inner you. Unfiltered. As an example, I’m a left-leaning Methodist’s-Methodist in north Georgia, where the Methodists aren’t particularly Methodist and hardly anyone leans left. In a recent leadership meeting, hackles were raised over a poorly received bit of information taken directly from our denomination’s theological statements. If my platform is the youth room and the audience harbors a borderline rejection of core Methodist thought, the idea of unleashing unfiltered me ANYWHERE sounds dangerous. True, I may not connect with the alleged audience that wishes to drink from the cup of my mind. But I’ll remain employed.
Sure, there are days that I grow weary of the “inoffensive” church, the one that doesn’t challenge, the one that seeks the lowest common denominator in worship, the one that is more entertaining than disciple-building. Most days, really. But to speak out would just bring trouble.
And I can’t afford trouble until I’ve built my platform, right? But then I can say whatever I want.
According to my class, people are gonna love that.