That one word wasn't a swear word, it wasn't racist and it didn't offend people. But as soon as it was mentioned our student preacher lost most of their willing listeners.
Reference: v.1 He then began to speak to them in parables: "A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watch tower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey." (NIV Bible)
Explore: As part of our study at Theological College we had to practice preaching. This was often done as part of our class time where someone would preach to the students and then be marked according to certain criteria. It was always rather daunting standing in front of your class mates and presenting a sermon for them. You could hope that they would have compassion for you because they knew that they were up next, but you were never too sure! The next part of the assessment was to actually go to a real congregation and share a sermon there. I can remember one of the students coming to our church as a guest speaker. They were confident, well prepared and very articulate. They had the congregation following along until they dropped one word and then they lost about 90% of those who were listening. That one word wasn't a swear word, it wasn't racist and it didn't offend people. But as soon as it was mentioned, not just once but a number of times, our student preacher lost most of their willing listeners. That one word was… Johannine (pronounced Jo-han-nine). I only knew what the word meant because I had already endured two years of theological college by then. But the word Johannine is the word that theologians use when referring to the writings and themes in the gospel of John. That's it. Nothing hard to explain or difficult to understand, just another word for saying what is expressed in the Gospel of John. And yet using this one word caused the majority of the congregation to switch off because instantly they didn't understand a key word within an explanation.
Application: Jesus was the guru in communicating appropriately to His audience. When He wanted to connect with a particular crowd He would use language that He knew they would understand. Time after time we hear His parables that use the very simple things of the world to bring a much greater meaning. When we are talking to people about our faith we don't need to go to Theological College or use long, convoluted words. We just need to speak simply and from the heart. Then people will not switch off but hear the truth in our simple but meaningful words.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, it is impossible for us to find words to explain who You are and what You mean to us. Help us to communicate Your greatness to those we witness to. Amen.
What style of communication works best for you?
This article was written by Linda Bailey
Linda started theological studies in 1999 in Australia. After working for ten years in various church ministries, she now works as the breakfast producer at 89.9 LightFM - the Christian radio station in Melbourne, Australia. She writes blogs every day about passages she is currently reading in the Bible. Follow her on Google Plus +Linda Bailey or Facebook by clicking the like button on the right of this page.