Ministry Linguistics: I Want To Believe You But What Did You Say?
I love to listen to music and when I listen…I want clarity. I want to hear every chord, reverb and bass note as though it was exploding out of my iPod with unrestrained freedom. So when the salesman at the BOSE store placed the Quiet Comfort 15 headphones over my ears he knew he had me.
If there is ever a time in our ministries that we should be committed to and demand clarity, it is when the Gospel is being presented. This is no time for static. I have little patience with those who water down, complicate or just simply confuse the Gospel message, particularly when words could bring clarity.
I am not the final authority on this topic but I have spent over forty years sharing this wonderful message. There are few things I would rather do than share the Gospel and see “…people turn from darkness to light and the power of Satan unto God” – Acts 26:18. I have learned some valuable lessons about clarity along the way that I share in this post.
- The Gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ – 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. It is imperative that we share the whole message without shortcuts.
- Be a student of the message of Christ in the Word of God so that you can tell it naturally as a child talking about his father.
- Speak to individuals not crowds. Regardless of the size of the audience (1 or 1000), speak as though you were sharing the Gospel with one person, making it personal.
- Know your audience – as each generation has their own particular nuances, biases and philosophies. If you do not know where your audience lives, it is hard to deliver the message to their door.
- Do not encumber the Gospel message with other thoughts and appeals: keep it simple. Dr. Charles Ryrie says, “Keep the main thing, the main thing!”
- Never shy away from using Biblical words but take care to illustrate them for the audience. Explaining resurrection, repentance or sin is necessary in our society today and illustrations should bring greater clarity to the doctrine or term.
- Church terminology is confusing even for church people. What does it feel like to have “Jesus speak to your heart”? Would it not be simpler to say, “ …if you have a desire or want-to” than to use a Christian cliché?
When it comes to the Gospel, we cannot afford ourselves the luxury of Ministry Linguistics disguising clarity. These are some of the lessons I have learned and some of the Ministry Linguistics I have had to overcome. What are some of the challenges you have faced with clarity?
Check out my other post on Ministry Linguistics.