Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday morning preacher: plain speak

Because I like preaching a lot and have thought a great deal about it, I'm going to try a new Regularly Scheduled Feature here at the Infusion. Let me know what you think. I'm not sure yet if this is for preachers or listeners or both, but I'll stumble along and find out.

One of the things I loved about the sermon I heard yesterday was that the preacher used straightforward language to talk even about the most profound things. I mean that she used words that you use every day: ask, welcome, dinner, question. There were even some tasty unexpected words in there ("scoff" leaps to mind, but I'm not even sure that was it), but even the less common words were still commonly held.

I love it when preachers sound like people and not like...preachers. Too often I wonder who the preacher is trying to impress. Actually, I suspect I know who the preacher is trying to impress. (Oh, all right, Ms. Beezle-Bubb, whom the preacher is trying to impress.) And many a listener, I suspect, comes out of those sermons thinking, "Wow! That was so profound I didn't understand it!" or (more likely), "Wow! I didn't understand that so it must be profound!"

But profound isn't in the length of the words but the depth of the thoughts. Preaching is a way of communicating something important. If listeners don't understand it, then our work as preachers has failed, no matter how erudite we sound.

Clarity is not dumbing down. Short, clear words are beautiful.


jantoepfer said...

boy have you got that right! I am an example of one who has fled from a church in frustration because I couldn't understand what the #**/+ the guy in the pulpit was saying. Mom

LKT said...

I will translate the asterisks and such as "tarnation." Or maybe it's an emoticon of a preacher with a toupee and a cleft chin who had one of his eyes knocked to the side of his head when you hit him after he talked for 20 minutes about the hermeneutic of suspicion. I like that better.

it's margaret said...

I have found that simple words and short sentences and less than a page written poetry style is better/easier to translate in to Spanish too!