Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Fostering Imagination in Evangelism

Excerpt from How Not to Evangelise by Stephen Parsons 
at Surviving Church (my own emphasis added):
The second word I brought forward as being always needed in any attempt at communication is the word imagination.

The ability to use the imagination effectively is sadly something not always encouraged in the schooling process. It does however develop as a by-product of certain disciplines within the curriculum which are labelled under the title of creative arts. These are not always the ones most valued in a system that places science, maths and verifiable information at the top of the educational tree. While imagination is hard to teach, it is nevertheless naturally built into every growing child and parents and teachers can do much to encourage it.

[. . .]

Why is imagination so important for all us? It is because it is the part of ourselves that enables us, among other things, to understand what another person might be feeling at any particular point.

To put it another way, imagination enables us to enter the subjectivity of someone else’s experience. All of us know that the world is a better place when ordinary people have no difficulty in feeling what other people are experiencing, whether their joy, grief or pain.

Imagination also crosses boundaries, not only involving feeling, but also of those of understanding. Our imagination can help us to see and at least partly understand what another person might be thinking.

Even if this knowledge is not complete, at least we have enough information to grasp that there are differences between us. That differences of thinking and feeling exist between individuals is not something to be deplored. We need to learn to accept and respect it.