Preaching And Communicating

   Is there a difference in preaching and communicating? Not supposed to be… I mean, when someone gets up to speak to the people of God a message from God, it should be communicated well. (Communication involves not only speaking words but how well these words are received.) However, we have all sat and listened to well meaning preachers who have presented a message but it went ‘right over your heads’. We have all heard lessons where we have thought it would have been better to have stayed home. In other words… boring. No change, no challenge. I am guilty of all of this for sure. Over the years of preaching, there have been quite a few occasions where dad was in the audience, and he offered a lot of good advice. However I also learned from simply watching and listening to  others who were more experienced. What appealed to me was when a preacher really communicated to the people.  There is something that happens when God works in His man.

   There is something that happens to the audience as well. It shows in their faces, people lean forward, they laugh, they cry, they smile, nod. It’s hard to put in words as you have noticed, but when you are communicating and reaching the audience, you ‘feel’ something happening. Someone wisely said that “no one has the right to make the Bible boring”. Unfortunately, too many times, I made it boring. Didn’t mean to, but here are some things that I have learned… ie mistakes.

 1. Poor preparation results in shallow lessons. I look back over my first few year’s lessons and just wonder how they put up with my lessons in Fitzgerald. They were kind and patient. But poor study habits result in poor lessons. People need and want to go deeper into the scriptures. They should go home saying, “What a wonderful Lord” not “What a great speaker.” “How great is His grace” not “How great an orator this man is”. They want to see Jesus.

 2. No contact with people (staying in the office too much), hearing theirs stories, their laughter, their tears. Without this contact with people in your town (soul winning), and congregation (visiting their homes), the lessons are more a shot gun approach, hoping you may spark an interest. If you know people’s hurts, and needs it’s easier to reach them in the lessons, and illustrations without being direct.

 3. Too nervous about how you will be received (Dad called it “too much Exum, not enough Lord”). Preachers should not get in the pulpit because they have to say something… but because they have something to  say, ie a message from God. that is what people need. Actually the preacher is standing in God’s stead speaking to the greatest people on earth.  Love the people, relax, hide behind the cross, forget yourself, and speak a word from God.

 4.  Poor illustrations. and jokes. Don’t get me wrong. Jokes and illustrations really help. Without them a lesson CAN BE dry. Many times a good illustration at the right time, done well, really nails down when you are saying. A “thus saith the Lord” is good, but Jesus didn’t just quote scriptures… he used simple illustrations and stories. They were done well, and ‘hit home’. These things have to come across naturally, even if you have to reherse them over and over. “Make it your own”, dad said. Make sure the illustrations, and jokes, are appropriate for the occasion.

 5. Poor conclusions are like a “burp in a presidential speech”. You can have a great lesson, and then ruin it with a poor conclusion. Plan it all to the end. Make your endings vary. Don’t think you have to mention the 5 steps every time, and call people to be baptized. The invitation did not begin at Pentecost, it began in the 1800’s with the Mourner’s bench, and the “Altar call”. Sometimes it is good to end with a prayer. Be sure and convey your thoughts to the elders, but the idea is to reach people, not follow tradition for tradition sake.

Preaching is a privilege that carries with it huge responsibilities, so be sure you are right in yourself with the Lord. A preacher who is not right with the Lord cannot be right in the pulpit. The power needed will not be there. Be lost in the Lord and in his power. The Lord will use you if you let Him. In the end you will be humbled at what God does through the selfless attitude. Dad said, I’m the kind of guy that believes the act of communicating always supersedes any teaching or praying. Many preachers preach, but how many really communicate? You first have to get permission from your students that they want to learn. I always believed in hands-on teaching. Most preachers put themselves away  from the audience as they stand behind the pulpit. When I teach I use all kinds of visual aids. I use their eyes, and their ears, and that’s two different modes of communication working in concert. I always wanted the congregation to move up so I could touch them in many ways. I remember a child coming down front, and sitting next to me. I said, “You like being close don’t you?” She said, “Yes”. That’s the key to communication… to be down on their level. I believe the idea of a hierarchy is a no-no. It is said in the Bible, “Holy and reverend is THY name”, not my name….
 He always loved the people he spoke to and for the time he was there… he was theirs and they were his. There was a relationship with the audience, a bond, and they knew he cared. This was dad. Hard to emulate, but easy to love. Again, he would be the last one to say, “Copy me”. He would also be the first to say, LEARN FROM ME, copy what will help, and avoid that which will not help. He would encourage any and all who wanted to be a communicator, to be yourself, and let God use you in His service.

 People that dad loved in the pulpit… Charles Hodge Jr., Earl Williams., C.E. McGauphy., Fred Walker, are the ones I remember him speaking about.

“Preach the word” brother…



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“I Quit” – (Part Three)

This article is part 3 of 7 in the series I Quit

Why do people quit, in homes and in church families? Whatever the reason for walking out or quitting, IT HURTS. In homes, everyone gets hurt. In church families, everyone gets hurt. This in itself should be a deterrent, but still in the USA, the divorce rate is still 50%, and in church families, well just look at the situation with congregations you know.

Now NOT ALL church families ‘divorce’, some happily grow and decide that they want to further their outreach by establishing another congregation across town. Praise God for this. They have learned, to accept each other, and that differences are ok. They have learned that opinions are just not worth a ‘fight’. They have learned to focus on the WHAT, that Jesus commands, instead of the HOW, that He does not specify.

THE WORLD IS LOST. Jesus weeps over this. However, too many have lost sight of this, and have gotten caught up in church family squabbles.

Another reason people quit… is the break down of COMMUNICATION. (There should be a loud AMEN to this.) Both in out homes, and church families, there should be great COMMUNICATION. People want to feel they are important, and their opinion counts. This does NOT mean they should expect to get their way. “People should have a say, but they cannot always have their way.”

Thus we come to the point that someone has to make a decision. Hopefully due to COMMUNICATION, the best decision will be made. “Two heads are better than one” and this is why there should always be a plurality of elders or leaders. This is why before one gets married or before a congregation selects leaders, good communication is in order, and must continue.

What causes COMMUNICATION to break down? Pride (“I am right all the time” “My way or the hi-way” idea.) Gossip (whether it be by email or by mouth), Lack of listening on the part of either ‘side’ (loss of objectivity), (openness), fear of sitting face to face and talking, hot tempers (impatience). There are other things I am sure that can be listed.

COMMUNICATION is invaluable to the survival of our homes and church family. COMMUNICATING is critical…

When COMMUNICATION breaks down what should we do? Well, first of all, look at ourselves. How have I contributed to the problem? Am I being proud, selfish, UNAPPROACHABLE BECAUSE OF MY TEMPER, afraid to sit and talk? Am I open to some other view point, and humble enough to accept the fact that I may not get my way? Do I walk out? Quit? Why?

Having done this, spend time in prayer, and try and gain proper perspective on the situation. With a humble spirit, just go and speak to the person, or people you need to.

Re: Leadership…

1. Encourage people to say what’s on their mind.
2. Treat their opinions with respect.
3. Be open to these opinions (APPROACHABLE) and weigh them against the will of God, and pray about it.
4. Decide whether something is
a.) No Big Deal … compromise is ok
b.) A BIG deal… compromise may not be ok.
c.) Biblical, Un-Biblical, Non-Biblical

(Biblical: Good! follow scriptures.)

(UN BIBLICAL: Bad! follow the scriptures.)

(NON BIBLICAL: MAYBE! freedom to do what is best for us).

5. Be patient and remember, THINGS CHANGE…

6. Don’t be in a hurry…

All in all, we must always be careful to guard our lifeline, major life giving artery of being able and willing to have open and free, Christian communication. Being mindful of each others feelings. The idea, “We don’t need him/her”, has NO PART IN THE BODY OF CHRIST. Paul spoke about the body of Christ in I Cor. 12… “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I DON’T NEED YOU!”, And the head (leadership) cannot say to the feet, “I DON’T NEED YOU!” On the contrary, those parts which SEEM to be weaker are INDISPENSABLE…” vss 21-26.

“What would Jesus do?” This will answer all questions on communication. DON’T QUIT


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