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Good Communication—Be Interesting

Some of us who are evangelicals seem to think that because we’re teaching the Bible we can bore people with it. And that there’s something wrong with the audience if they go to sleep on us. I know a great Hebrew term for that line of thinking: Hogwash!

A good communicator is interesting. Look at how Solomon put it: “The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly” (Ecclesiastes 12:10). Did you notice, “delightful words”? The preacher sought to find that which would bring emotional delight. How about that! I take that to mean he’s looking for clarity as well as an interesting, even captivating use of terms.

I heard a true story that theologian Carl F. H. Henry told as he spoke to a group of radio broadcasters. The late Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr decided to write out his theological position, stating exactly where he stood philosophically. Being a profound thinker (and a bit verbose), it took him many sheets of paper to express himself. Upon completion of his masterwork, he realized it needed to be evaluated by a mind much more practical than his own. He sent the material to a minister whom he knew had a practical mind and a pastoral heart. With great pains the clergyman slogged through the ream of paper, trying desperately to grasp the meaning. When he finally finished, he worked up the nerve to write a brief, yet absolutely candid, note in reply. It read:

My dear Dr. Niebuhr:
I understand every word you have written, but I do not understand one sentence.

Please
. . . stop and think about the words you’re using. As well as the sentences you’re stringing together. Go to war against clichés and “Christian-ese” bromides no one understands—or cares to. If you don’t, you’re boring! And so am I.

When people listen to us, they should want to embrace the truth we’re teaching. If they reject it, however, it should not be because of our delivery. Being an interesting and clear communicator means you have thought through a passage, and you are serving the meal so that anybody can understand it. That includes the raw pagan who just walked in and sits in the back.

If you’re talking code language, you’re talking to yourself and the three seminary graduates that are in your congregation. You’re boring. Don’t go there.

                             —Chuck