Pastor Ben Haden told of an ophthalmologist who was asked to make a house call. The woman calling explained that their situation was such that he must come to their home.
When he arrived, he noticed a very odd arrangement of furniture in the house. A few seconds later, seven children came running through the room. Six were completely sightless. He then realized that the house was arranged to accommodate them.
The mother explained that the six sightless children had lost their eyes to a very rare form of cancer in their retinas. She had called the doctor to examine the seventh, because he too was showing signs of the same disease. Sure enough, he too was diagnosed with the cancer.
The story took me back to a church I attended in Omaha, Nebraska. The pastor was one of the most intelligent, articulate and well taught men I have ever known. But one day, he preached a sermon which was thoroughly laced with four and five syllable words fit for a seminary class but not for a congregation of ordinary folks. He made note of the puzzled looks on people’s faces and said something about everyone being responsible to educate themselves on those heady ecclesiastical terms.
When I taught effective communication in the U. S. Air Force, we had three cardinal rules about communicating with people. Define your terms so that people will know what you are talking about. Use a vocabulary with which your readers or audience can relate. Speak in a conversational manner, and write the way you speak.
If I were a preacher, which I am not, I would follow those rules. And I would see to it that the teaching, preaching and general order of worship were arranged like the furniture in the home of those blind children. Especially in an evangelical church where people who have not grown spiritual eyes and ears will be invited to attend and will hopefully show up.
When Jesus had finished His Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:28-29 says, “The crowds were surprised at His teaching. He taught them like someone with authority, and not like their teachers of the Law od Moses.” The word authority actually means competence, and the teachers of the Law of Moses were comparable to our seminary professors.
In the words of another preacher I knew, “Jesus put the cookies on the lower shelves where His own children could reach them.” That should be our model when we set about to share the gospel of grace with the untutored and uninformed.