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What Language Do You Preach In?

PreachingI preach in English, because it’s all I know. I took Spanish in college, but sat next to my wife and stayed distracted the whole semester – wound up with a C. But I’m not really getting at language in the sense of nationalities or tribal traditions. What I want to know is, do you speak human?

One of my least favorite kinds of sermons to listen to is those that are preached in a preacher’s language. I refer to them as being “preacherly.” Here’s the problem. Nobody talks like that. You don’t scream your order at the waitress in a restaurant. You don’t say “I submit to you that it’s hot outside today.”

I like good oratory, but sometimes it gets in the way. It keeps people from hearing. If you became a missionary to South America, you’d learn Spanish or Portugese. If you went to Russia, you’d learn Russian. So why, when preaching to an American culture (or whatever your culture is) do we not speak in the language of American culture?

Being “preacherly” won’t impress anybody but other preachers, and speaking “ministerially” won’t convince the naysayers. But sitting down to teach them, in everyday language, like Jesus did, might just be a great way of communicating biblical truth. Watch your language.

Creative Commons License photo credit: snappybex

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  1. Hey Brandon! Great thought-provoking post! I would submit to you that there is a portion of my being that agrees with you and another that is at odds with you. However, my tendency is to believe that the foundation of your premise is that we are to speak in the dialect of those in a specific audience, whomever they may be. In that vain, I concur. It is quite feasible, though, to also believe that some audiences relate to and even engage such preaching as you have described above. Therefore, in conclusion, as my time and space are running out, I would postulate that it is quite appropriate in some cases to “preach” and in other instances to “teach,” depending on the audience. What say you?

  2. Brandon – you hit on a great point here – thanks for sharing it and making me think. You reminded me of this this: I love when I here other Pastors or just anyone who are talks to you normally, in normal everyday English, and then when they pray the go back to the 1600’s and pray in the King’s English. I had it even happen with a pretty contemporary guy who preached a great message in “normal” English but the message had at the front end and back end prayers with thee’s, thou’s, and other words from the 1600’s.

    Again – thanks for sharing making me think.

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