Careful Communication?

I am a pastor who is passionately concerned with communicating in such a way so as to be effective to my congregation. As a former professor of mine used to say, “The Gospel will offend people, but let’s not let anything that we do offend them.” In other words, make sure your communication style is such so that it doesn’t offend people and turn them away from hearing before they have the chance to hear the Gospel. Too many churches in our convention are guilty of just such behavior. Having said that, I am also concerned with a number of churches that, in an attempt to be relevant, seem to occasionally push the envelope too far. In doing so, they’re just as guilty as those who don’t concern themselves at all with their communication style. In both cases their method of communication overshadows their message and prohibits the message of the Gospel from being heard.

A church in Tennessee seems to be guilty of just such behavior. Church @ the Gathering is in the middle of a sermon series that highlights marital intimacy. In an effort to increase support they sent out a series of mailers that highlighted the upcoming series. The problem is that the language is a bit risky for some families to receive in the mail and this effort to communicate by the church has closed opportunities for the Gospel to be distributed.

CNN has recently reported about the effort on the part of the church. You can see the report here.

Thinking about this experience has caused me to ask myself again, just how should we go about communicating our message? There is no doubt that the message has to be delivered in a manner which is most effective at reaching our audience. At the same time, our method cannot overshadow our message and disrupt any opportunity to hear the message. So what about in your case? Those who read the blog and are preachers, do have examples that you have personally had to struggle with? What about those of you who aren’t preachers but who listen regularly to preaching. Can you think of examples that you have struggled with?

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

2 thoughts on “Careful Communication?

  1. Micah,
    Long time no commenting. We are a family integrated church and for those who are not familiar with that term, it simply means everybody stays in the worship service together for the whole service. There is no nursery or children’s church. So, there are varying ages and maturity levels as well as those who have very little knowledge about the issue you discussed. So as the pastor/preacher in that setting I am very careful about how I state certain things that do come up in the biblical text or as biblical illustration, ie. David and Bathsheba and others.

    I think as pastors our job is to teach the Bible the way the Bible teaches itself. Use biblical language. Explanations of certain terms are often easily and quickly explained without a lot of unnecessary detail that usually, in my opinion, is used to draw interest rather than to instruct. I am not saying you need to be a prude but there is some language used inside the church that I for one would be offended if I heard it somewhere else.

    I have been in churches where the pastor would warn the week before to make sure the children were neatly tucked away next service because of the content of the sermon. I believe this flies in the face of Deuteronomy 6:7. Moses told the fathers to teach all of the Law to their children including the seventh commandment. So there is a way to teach the adults without over educating the children before their time. I realize that this takes a lot more time to prepare what is going to be said and how you are going to say it. But that is okay. There is nothing wrong with weighing your words. I guess it helps to have young children of your own sitting in the service to cause you to be careful about what you say.

    I have said all of the above to say this: vulgarity in any way shape or form should not happen in the pulpit or any communication from the church. It is the Apostle Paul that said, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth…” But rather what ministers grace to the hearer. Our words in teaching should be grace filled and not titillating or tantalizing which only gratifies the flesh. True worship and true preaching is designed to mortify the flesh and edify the spirit.


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