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Effective Communication

"If the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air."1

A seminary student turned in his copy of a sermon he had written to his preaching professor for grading. At a later conference the professor told the student how impressed he was with his sermon, how well it was written but that he was giving him a D. Confused the student asked, "Why a D if it's as good as you say it is?"

"It's because of your title," the professor remarked. "Nobody will want to hear a sermon entitled: 'The Pericopes of Jesus in Relationship to the Eschatology of the Apostle Paul.' I tell you what I'll do. You see if you can come up with a better sermon title and I'll reconsider the grade. What you want is a title that will reach out and grab people by the heart. Imagine that title on the sign in front of a church making such an impact that if a bus stopped in front of the church and the people on the bus saw the sign, it would be so powerful it would motivate them to immediately get off the bus and run into the church."

The student said that he would give it his best shot and returned with the title, "Your bus has a bomb on it!"2

Whew from one extreme to another. When seeking to be a witness for Jesus, the words we say (or don't say) are very important; but of far greater importance and impact is the message that comes from our heart, which is an expression of who we are. This message speaks so much louder than what we say. "People don't care how much we know but rather how much do we care?" Do we communicate the love of Jesus? If not, our words, no matter how eloquent, may have a boomerang effect and do more to drive people away from Jesus rather than draw them to him.

As another has wisely said, "To win some we need to be winsome."

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me a genuine love for the lost and help me to always communicate your love in some way to every life I touch. And as opportunity arises give me the right words to say at the right time in the right manner so that my life and witness will always draw people to you and never drive them away. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. 1 Corinthians 14:8-9 (NIV).
2. Adapted from Illustrations Unlimited. Edited by James S. Hewett 1988. Cited in Encounter magazine, December '04-January '05, Australian edition.

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All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.