In this tale of Freddie Mercury and Queen, there comes a moment where the band recognise that their fans want to join in, they love singing the songs back to the group at their gigs. So Brian May comes up with a novel idea.
They create a song which deliberately relies on audience participation. And it is easy to join in, clapping, stamping, and easy-to-learn lyrics. And the world over folks have been joining in ever since. I remember putting the 7-inch vinyl on and hearing this unusual single for the first time, it was on the b-side (remember them) of We Are the Champions, another song written with a chorus designed for audience participation.
Queen were keen to connect with their audience, to invite them to sing along, to join in. Something Jesus was keen on too. He told stories that drew on the lives of his audience: sheep and money, figs and farming, travellers and houses all featured in his tales of the unexpected. People could relate to these, and having told them, Jesus expected comment and conversation. He was not so much for giving long sermons, but was looking to build a relationship with those who wanted to listen. It’s the ongoing challenge for the church. How should we meet and worship together now. How can we best communicate with folks inside and outside the church. I once heard a bishop say, on the subject of teaching ministries, ‘What’s your learning ministry like?’ In other words, how do people best learn and remember and take-away. The purpose of Jesus’s stories, or parables, was this. Folks listened, chewed on them, debated with him about them, and then went away and little by little applied them. They were easy to remember, they were funny and surprising, and they were easy to pass on to others. Just look how many feature in the gospels, how many folks remembered decades after Jesus first told them.