Posts Tagged ‘Communication’

Let Me Hear Your Voice…

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 by James Flynn

Hearing the voice of the one you love is one of the greatest joys of any relationship. When you love someone, communication literally determines what you possess together. People will go to great lengths just to hear a few words from the one they love, because words are the way human beings connect and share what is in the depth of our hearts. In Song of Solomon, the bride longs to hear the voice of her groom: “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret place of the steep pathway, Let me see your form, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your form is lovely” (Song of Sol. 2:14).

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The Road Less Traveled

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 by James Flynn

The incarnation of God as man in Jesus Christ has captivated me for the last twenty-five years. Some truths from Scripture seem to overtake you and never leave you alone again. I stand amazed at the willingness of God to clothe His only Son with human flesh in order to bring salvation to the world. I am in awe that God’s plan involved a young, unmarried woman by the name of Mary from a little town on a hill in a country no bigger than the state of New Jersey. I marvel that God was unwilling to send just words but that He sent the Word Himself—a person.

So, how does this and how should this notion affect our preaching?

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Dem Bones

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010 by James Flynn

Is it just me, or can you identify with the long nights that can occur before you preach? In spite of our best efforts to prepare throughout the week for Sunday’s message, there may be those weeks when we still find ourselves up on Saturday, wringing our hands, sweating, and pleading with God. Preaching is one of the most remarkable undertakings any man or woman aspires to in life. Preaching has the power to transform a valley of dry bones into a mighty army. Over the last three decades, I have been privileged to preach in local churches, classrooms, and seminars around the world. I have yet to experience a ministry that is more exhilarating, challenging, or fruitful than preaching. Preaching can change lives, alter destinies, and renew minds. It can bring hope to the hopeless, encouragement to the broken, and light to people who live in darkness. Preaching has the potential to change this generation and to send a legacy into the next. But the call to preach comes with a great personal price tag.

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Say, What?

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 by James Flynn

Does the picture at the right remind you of some of Sunday mornings during sermon time? One of the primary tasks every preacher needs to master is helping people listen.  Most people are not natural-born listeners.  People that are good listeners are actually the exception—you notice them right away.  We all hear, but rare is the person who actually has “ears to hear,” as the Scriptures call the person who listens with their full attention and understanding.  Remember—only 25% of the people in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) actually heard the word, and it was preached by Jesus Himself!  If that was true for Jesus, what are the chances of someone actually hearing me?  What can I do to help people listen? Read the rest of this entry »

When in Rome…

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010 by James Flynn

The Western world is in a time of cultural change so dynamic that our time could be compared to the Renaissance or the Reformation. Just as with the shifts in culture that occurred more than five hundred years ago, technology is once again driving this change. Will the church react as it has in times past, retreating from change to take cover or ignoring change so as not to become stained by the world? If so, then the church is retreating from one of the greatest opportunities to reach people with the gospel that has ever existed.

Huge cultural shifts can be scary things for people. Culture is the way we know, experience, and understand our world. Culture’s written and unwritten rules help us to construct reality, and when culture’s fabric changes, the result is a cultural earthquake that upsets our very basis for understanding life. When the old rules of culture change, people become insecure and look for answers. Again I ask, will the church retreat to try to keep itself pure and safe, or will it earn its right to answer some of the world’s questions by conversing with culture and speaking the new language? As J. Randall Nichols once observed, “. . . people do not have a burning desire to hear about the Jebusites.” That is, unless the Jebusites can help us live life better today. Read the rest of this entry »

We’re So Sorry, Uncle Albert

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010 by James Flynn

Albert Einstein once said: “There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  He was one of the greatest intellectuals of the twentieth century, but acknowledged that “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.”  Preachers need to take a lesson from Dr. Einstein.  All that brain power, yet he was fascinated like a little child with the world around him and its mystery.  Uncle Albert’s secret to success?  He learned to marry reason with creativity and imagination to think outside the box about the world around him.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the same could always be said about the church and its preachers?

Is it just me, or do you get a sense that folks in Renewal circles still view imagination and creativity with suspicion, especially when it comes to preaching?  How is it that sermons based on God’s powerful word can come off so dry and dull? I would submit that the problem is not with God’s word, it’s with the messenger of the word.  Have you ever gone to a great steakhouse and had them mess the steak up?  It could be Kobe Beef right from Japan, but if you boil it in water and add no spices, you just ruined the steak.  The steak was fine, but the preparation ruined it.  I think this happens all the time with preachers and their sermons.

Perhaps our problem with preparation is rooted in a sincere desire for God to have His way in our sermons, and for our humanity to not get in the way of the power of His word.  You have probably heard this prayer prayed by many a sincere preacher before he or she started to preach:  “Lord, all of you, and none of me – let my words be your word.”  Sorry, God can’t answer that one.  If He really intended it to be “all of Him” and “none of me,” He would have sent an angel or a holy tape recorder to preach.  Instead, he sent you and me – imperfect as we are – to mingle our humanity with his word.  To some, that may sound like a bad idea, because His word is so pure and holy.  To me, it sounds a lot like incarnation.  God has always intended to mix his word with our humanity to clothe His word with flesh so people could experience Him – hear, see, behold, and handle (1 John 1:1,2).  That is what gives the word texture and depth when it is preached – words that are three dimensional in the rather flat world we live in. It’s the difference between a boiled steak and a perfectly spiced charbroiled masterpiece that melts in your mouth.  Which one appeals to you?

The church has a very rich tradition of creativity in its buildings, windows, and art.  The very windows of early churches were alive with stained glass artwork depicting the story of the gospels in picture form for those who could not read.  To marry creativity, imagination, and the preaching of God’s word is to act a lot more like God, not less like Him.  This is where “Uncle Al” can teach us a thing or two.

I would have been content with just one kind of flower, yet botanists estimate there are more than 10,000 species, not to name all the varieties, shapes, and colors.  I could do with very few spiders, yet scientists estimate there are at least 37,000 different kinds.  If that is not creative, I don’t know what is.  When God creates, He is absolutely extravagant.  God creates with His word.  Preacher, when you speak, are your words extravagant and dripping with creativity and imagination?  Have you married reason with creativity and imagination?  Should the people who listen to you expect anything less from someone hoping to speak for God?