The late great American preacher Clarence McCartney recounted ministering at the funeral of a young husband. He stood by the coffin and listened as the young widow poured out her soul in grief. Finally he said to her: “God will give you strength and faith, and out of this will come good.”
“No,” she answered, “good will not come out of this.”
McCartney later reflected that no matter how much God wills it, good would never come to that widow unless she also willed it.
We live in a wired world. We walk together as a disrupted society. In just a few decades, the technical revolution has altered the face of communication—not only how we communicate, but with whom we communicate, the speed by which we communicate and the number of people to whom we communicate.
How we communicate has also changed. Communication is happening less and less verbally. If you can avoid a phone call by sending a text, you’ve saved time, and saving time is better!
In an ever-evolving society, where communication is still radically changing, being a communicator of the gospel can be perplexing and even frustrating. How much technology should we accept as pastors? Is it OK to use social media? Does being current equate to compromising the gospel? These questions can stir up some strong opinions. But here’s what I’ve realized: Just because the message is timeless doesn’t mean the method has to be timeless!
Here are four essential communication lessons I’ve learned as a pastor praying to engage people where they are today with the good news of the gospel:
When ministering in a church, the prophet should have a specific area the Lord has revealed that needs correction. Jesus gave each church a specific place of constructive criticism.
It’s important at this stage to determine if the message should be given to the senior leader publicly or privately. Most words of correction should be judged by leadership before their delivery over the congregation. The interpretation and application of the prophetic word is at the discretion of the senior leader. The senior leader must filter the partial, progressive and conditional part of the prophecy.
Time magazine for May 20, 2013, devotes an entire page to “assessing the creative spark,” a rarity in newsmagazines.
Now, I’m no authority on creativity or anything else, but I have long been fascinated by the subject and attuned to writings dealing with it.
“Creativity is that ineffable match-strike, that flash in the dark that comes to you from, well, it’s hard to say where. You can’t summon it on demand, though inclining your mind to a task does help.” —Time (Jeffrey Kluger, writer)
I know a little about this right-brain activity, being a preacher, a writer, a cartoonist and a storyteller.
Here’s something of what I have learned about creativity:
Just because I’m a pastor, that doesn’t mean I don’t continually learn things about God. It’s a daily process for everyone. Here are some things that I have learned or am learning about our Heavenly Father:
Sometimes God opens doors simply to show me that He can. I’ve seen it many times. God seemed to provide an opportunity, only to later make it clear that’s not the right one for this time. It’s always though an encouragement than when He is ready He can and will make a way.
God’s plan for my life is always bigger than mine. Every. Single. Time. I have underestimated Him all my life. You’d think I’d learn.