Communicate Bible Truth with Life Changing Clarity

Christians are communicators. And while some Christians may be more or less gifted at the skill of communication, all Christians are “witnesses.” That is, we are, by the very fact that we have been born again into Christ and therefore witness personally the power of the gospel, to bear witness of what we have seen and heard:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

It is inevitable. Jesus did not say “you might be” or “from time to time you could be,” but instead “you will.” We have been issued a divine summons, and our appearance to testify is not optional. So all of us, whether we be plumber or preacher, poet or pastor, are communicators of the gospel. We communicate about God, His Word, and the gospel in our homes, in our jobs, with our friends, and in our churches, so the question of how we communicate should be very important to us.

It hasn’t always been to me. Once upon a time, a lot of years ago, I was pretty impressed with my own rhetorical skill, and I put together a sermon I was super proud of. I started with a lengthy and elaborate illustration using Gilligan’s Island as the premise. I wrote out the sermon which detailed how all of us, from time to time, get stuck on a spiritual island. And we might use all kinds of things to get off that island – we might use our intelligence, our money, our talent, our charm. See what I did there with each of the characters on the TV show?

Yep. I did that. And then, after it was written out, I remember thinking to myself, I should find some Bible verses to stick into this talk.

By God’s grace, I’ve gotten older. And as I continue to get older, there are some things, I think, that are becoming more important to me about communicating God’s Word. Hopefully these will be helpful to you, too:

1. Clarity over cleverness.

It’s so easy to get enamored with our own cleverness. And in so doing, we can come up with all kinds of clever ways to try and explain things in the Bible through use of illustration. But the danger of doing so is that we might end up obscuring what the Bible says with our own cleverness. In the end, as we think through illustrations, it’s a wise thing to ask whether we are trusting, through the use of our clever rhetoric, if we are trusting in our own ability to communicate more than the power of God’s Word.

2. Faithful over funny.

Humor is a powerful thing. I think Jesus used humor from time to time in His own teaching. I mean, it’s funny to think about a person walking around with a plank sticking out of his head all the while he’s looking for splinters in someone else’s. So humor is a gift, and a tool that we can use to help communicate. But we should also be careful here, because we can easily keep a bag of our “go to” stories that we know will solicit a laugh, and then look for a way to bend the true content of the message in order to work them in.

3. Adoration over admiration.

Everyone likes to be liked. I certainly do. But the danger when we communicate and communicate effectively is that people might leave a conversation or a class or a church service with us dazzled at our rhetoric and yet never brought humbly to the God we represent. If that happens, then we have garnered admiration from another, but we haven’t led that other to adoration of Jesus Christ.

Christian, you are a witness. I am too. The call for us in that witness is faithfulness and clarity that points people to Jesus. Let’s make sure together that in our cleverness and humor we aren’t leading others to admire us but miss the Son of God.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Ann Stokman — 12/20/18 7:57 am

Love this

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Strategize Your Way to Better Communication

Communication is a key component to leadership. If you are communicating, then you are leading in some way. Here are five principles that you can begin using immediately to help you communicate, and thus lead, better.

  1. Use positive language. Draw people to your point by inspiring them. If you paint a brighter future, people will desire to listen and follow. A quick listen to great speeches like Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech faced the difficulties of the present day. But they also move on to describe the promise of something greater.
  1. Avoid alarmism. Leading through times of crisis is necessary. Creating a constant environment of crisis is demotivating. Eventually, if every circumstance is a cause for alarm, people will stop listening and simply give up hope. Change is inevitable and and it is always accompanied by a cost. However, you can help people through it by not sounding the crisis alarm with your language.
  1. State how it is easy to understand what we are doing. The constant use of phrases like “This is tough to understand” or “This will be hard for some people to do” becomes principles to follow rather than warnings to help. Instead, as you prepare, plan out simple steps for everyone listening to follow through on easy actions.
  1. Use more simple words. Speakers and leaders read so much on the subject matter in which they lead that the natural tendency is to get bored with the standard language and a slight obsession with new words that accompany their discipline. Remember that your audience has not done the same. It is fine to introduce a new vocabulary to your audience but you must do so in such a way that it does not distract from your core message. Instead, use more simple language than complex so that you are immediately and easily understood.
  1. Tell great stories. Everyone loves a great story and stories are everywhere. You can write an original illustration, adapt a real-life situation, use a historical narrative, or find something from the recent news headlines. Telling great stories will help the audience connect all of the principles you teach to the every day life that they lead.

Read more from Philip.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Nation

Philip Nation

serve as the Director of Advancement and Global Impact Churches with the Baptist World Alliance and frequently speak at churches and conferences. I earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, I was the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, I’ve served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter. My latest published work is the video-based Bible study Pursuing Holiness: Applications from James. In 2016, I published Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out with Moody Publishers. I’ve coauthored two other books: Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. I was also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, I have written the small-group studies Storm Shelter: Psalms of God’s Embrace, Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

4 Questions to Check Your Church Culture

There’s only so much you can learn about a church from their website.

Sure, you can check the church’s doctrinal statement to find out what the people believe. You can see from the church calendar what programs run and how active people are in church activities. But the calendar and confession don’t necessarily tell you about the church’s culture.

Culture is the heart of your church, the atmosphere your church creates – whatever makes your church unique.

Unfortunately, the culture of a church doesn’t always match the confession. And when the culture isn’t aligned with the confession or the calendar, the culture typically wins. Which means, as church leaders, we shouldn’t spend all our time stocking the calendar or tweaking the confession. Instead, we need to take a step back and ask some questions about our culture.

In Creature of the Word, Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, and Eric Geiger write:

“A church culture is healthy when there is congruence and consistency between what the church says is important to her and what others know really is important to her.”

So how do you know what your church culture is like? Here are a few questions:

1. What are you funding?

If your website says “missions” is a core value, and yet the music ministry budget is four times as big as your missions ministry, your church culture doesn’t line up with your stated values.

Follow the money. What are you funding? It’s likely that the more inward-focused your budget is, the more inward-focused your church is.

2. What are your people talking about? 

I recently spent some time on a college campus, and went to dinner with a couple guys. For two hours, all I heard about was the people these guys were discipling. Drug addicts. Homeless people. People far from God. It was clear from casual conversations that the culture of the school was mission-focused.

Spend time in casual conversations with the people in your congregation. You’ll discover what people are excited about. Talk to them long enough and you’ll discover the motivation behind the excitement. Are volunteers excited about VBS because of their love for kids, or because they hope to outshine the other churches across town? Are people always talking about personal preferences or how to be better effective in mission?

3. Who or what is the focus of attention?

What is the church focused on? Certain programs that give the church a good reputation? A ministry that gets good press? Powerful worship? Preaching? All these are good things can eventually supplant the worship of Christ.

Pity the pastor whose message is all about Jesus but whose ministry is all about himself! It’s possible to say Jesus is the hero from the platform and yet live as if you’re the hero of the church.

4. What are signs that back up your talk?

In Creature of the Word, a gospel-centered framework is described as a house.

  • Theology is the foundation – what your church believes.
  • Ministry philosophy is the structure and the design of the house, the commitments that undergird all your church does.
  • Practice is the furniture of the house, what your church actually does.

Look at what your church is doing, the activities your church is involved in. And ask yourself where your practice aligns with your philosophy and theology. What are the signs that your people actually believe the confessional statement about evangelism? Or the core value of hospitality?

Look for the signs that back up your church’s talk, and then publicly celebrate those signs constantly. You become what you celebrate.

Conclusion

It’s possible to talk about grace and still be a legalist. It’s possible to talk about Jesus and still be self-centered. It’s possible to talk about guests and still be unwelcoming.

So check the culture of your church. Listen to those who visit. Ask friends to give you feedback. Don’t give up until the Jesus you worship and proclaim from the platform is the center of everything your church does.

Read more from Trevin here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Trevin Wax

Trevin Wax

My name is Trevin Wax. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. My wife is Corina, and we have two children: Timothy (7) and Julia (3). Currently, I serve the church by working at LifeWay Christian Resources as managing editor of The Gospel Project, a gospel-centered small group curriculum for all ages that focuses on the grand narrative of Scripture. I have been blogging regularly at Kingdom People since October 2006. I frequently contribute articles to other publications, such as Christianity Today. I also enjoy traveling and speaking at different churches and conferences. My first book, Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals, was published by Crossway Books in January 2010. (Click here for excerpts and more information.) My second book, Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope(Moody Publishers) was released in April 2011.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Adamson — 10/22/14 8:18 am

I M Very much blessed and helped.

Beau — 06/27/14 3:41 pm

Great insights. Id add one more - is it reproducing and do they have a reproducing plan?

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.