29 May, 2023 The need for COMPELLING gospel communication
The need for COMPELLING gospel communication
I recently watched a series of short messages by different speakers. One speaker stood out. His message caught me. But more than that – it was his person that caught me. I asked myself, ‘Why did his commmunication stand out?’ It was his genuine conviction – which affected the tone of his every word! And that conviction is what got my attention. It drew me in. I knew his words weren’t a performance. In truth – Christian communication needs to be like this! So, where does that sense of conviction within the words come from?
Personal conviction is the source. To put that differently, sometimes it’s like people are ‘reading off a script’ – saying good and even true things. But that isn’t what ‘cuts through’. In a media-saturated world, in a great communication the communicator doesn’t just carry a message – as if it were separate to who they are. Somehow they are the message. It comes from within. Their words are an extension of their true beliefs – but also the connection between their beliefs and words is, in that moment, authentically connected!
There is no communication more important than that which seeks to communicate the core Christian message and about related realities. This communication should be compelling – coming from deep within the preacher (if a pulpit) or person (if a conversation). The challenge is that overfamiliarity with the message can result in a disconnect with the message. That sense of conviction is lost in the moment. Important words are communicated as if a series of factual or belief statements, in words that have become platitudes – as if meaninglessly repeated. Comprehension of reality is the necessary antidote. Then the communicator again speaks from the heart.
(Emotional health is also the antidote – because, if the power of personal insecurity is greater than our convictions, our words might be merely ‘said’ rather than ‘felt’. There’s no quick-fix to those other than (a) to continue to grow as people – emotionally, while (b) concurrently growing in our convictions!).
It is with awareness of the above that I highlight these sources of conviction – including the intensity of our times.
From the Scriptures – Love compels
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
For God so loved the world…
If we can comprehend the reality we are within – in a broken world, with a God who wants all people in the restored creation (heaven), with forgiveness offered through Jesus – but the humility of a ‘turn of heart’ toward God necessary… …if we can indeed ‘see’ or comprehend this, that is how we then communicate it clearly!
The Holy Spirit compels
I just finished reading through the Book of Jeremiah – the ‘weeping prophet’. He found his role difficult – and if you read those pages, you’ll see he was beaten, imprisoned, thrown in a well/cistern to die, continually opposed and ridiculed and hated and conspired against, and eventually taken as part of a ‘voluntary exile’ to Egypt– which he had prophecised against choosing.
On one occasion, having been beaten and placed in the stocks (a public shaming) at the Upper Gate in Jerusalem, Jeremiah said the following – within his complaint to God. (Jeremiah 20:9):
But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
The Holy Spirit can put a conviction into the heart of the person. (This has happened for me).
William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army) once quipped that he wished he could dangle Christians over hell for a short period, to help them gain that sense of reality. Whether it is clear thinking and belief that achieves this – or something God does, its that conviction that results that shifts a person from a mere entertainer or educator, to a ‘preacher’ who can stir and move hearts!
One area that makes a big difference for many is ‘end times’. While this topic area feels to me to be somewhat unfashionable amongst the ‘Christian elite’, I suggest it isn’t to be overlooked. If we can ‘see’ our times – or the gospel – or the reality of eternity – these all bring conviction!
Jesus taught as follows (Matthew 24:42-44)
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
While we will not know the day or hour – the Scriptures are clear that we can know the times. When the various signs related to the predicted times are considered, it’s hard not to notice that we might be within them! The sceptic within our ranks – I suggest often from a desire ‘respectability’ within our wider society – cautions or ridicules talk of ‘end times’, to the point of never teaching on it. While some might claim every generation since Christ has believed itself to be the last generation – a person would need a mental imparement (fuzzy brain) to not see that we’re living in unique times!
Fear, or a desire for respectability, or past hurts – or a raft of similar emotional things… …can impair our ability to think clearly – all while claiming to be enlightened intellectuals.
How surprised I was recently – when searching through international news (in our times journalism is hard to find), to find a report on the Euphrates river drying up.
John wrote a prediction as follows (Revelation 16:12)
12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.
John further foretold of the rise of a global Government – ‘Babylon the Great’ – parallelling the sin of global pride and dominion with no regard for God – which was the exact same terror as at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). God looked down and saw that nothing would be impossible for them. (I suggest the word ‘nothing’ in this context most logically means ‘no evil’ – because humans are clearly not capable of everything together).
He (John) wrote in Revelation 13:15-18 as folllows.
15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads,17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man.[e] That number is 666.
Quite apart from the present reality that a mark on the hand is more than possible as a replacement for all IDs – including drivers licences, bank accounts, health records and more… the rise of the CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currencies) is an ominous current development – as warned against by news commentators across the planet. What intrigues me most on this is that its not the Christians opposing it. It’s those with a perception of how power works – and the devastation that can come from that level of Governmental control. One news reporter commented that they believed the system “evil” – by nature of the fact that it created a situation within which a tyrant could take unprecidented control. The explain how technology exists for no part of a person’s life to be autonomous – including exclusion from the purchase of individual products in supermarkets if our ‘social credit’ scores don’t match up. China sets the pace – while the WEC openly boast in their plans for us all. As the most basic level, Trudeau showed a Governments power – in a ‘free Western democracy’ – to cut off access to private funds in banks for those involved in what was a constitutionally just protest against his over-reach. There are now multiple cases in England of banks ‘kicking out’ Christian charities who’s values they no longer agree with – leaving them struggling to find banking services.
It’s a fast-changing world, and these things are not good – quite apart from any Biblical reference!
These are unusual times – and if a preacher or communicator is looking for ‘fuel for the fire’, to speak with greater convicion, there is plenty of ‘food for fodder’!
Regarding prophecy, while we do not know if we have 5 years or 50 – or 100, it really wouldn’t take much for the predicted geo-political scenario to fall into place. Our times are therefore a bit like the ‘quiet before the storm’ – and if we can see this, it can be the ‘engine room of conviction’!
We do not need to speak about ‘end times’. Awareness alone can help us to ‘see’ – comprehending the realities of the gospel, of eternity, or good and evil, of human nature, of the corruption of power, of the inevitability of our self-destruction as humans if not for the teachings and values of of Jesus, and therefore of our genuine need for him!
What is your ‘engine room’ for conviction?
What gives ‘drive’ to your communication – embueing it with authenticity, speaking from the heart, out of true belief in the importance of what you are saying?
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
For other articles by Dave on the same topic of Church unity
2022 – A vocabulary we can agree on (This one is a particularly important FOUNDATION if coherent national discussions on unity are to one day take place)
2020 – It’s time to take responsibility to educate our own children and youth again (On united direction and strategy – for city change)
2020 – A need for new media platforms – not more voices (How do we address the increasingly left-leaning and also anti-faith bias of public media?)
2020 – A vision for national Church unity (What might REALISTICALLY be within our reach to achiEve – if we merely thought differently?)
2019 – ‘In One Spirit’ – The purpose of the book (Written at the time of the book launch and press release)
2019 – United we stand (A blog just prior to the release of the above book, ‘In One Spirit’)
DAVE MANN. Dave is a networker and creative communicator with a vision to see an understanding of the Christian faith continuing and also being valued in the public square in Aotearoa-New Zealand. He has innovated numerous conversational resources for churches, and has coordinated various national nationwide multimedia Easter efforts purposed to open up conversations between church and non-church people about the Christian faith and its significance to our nation’s history and values. Dave is the Producer of the ‘Chronicles of Paki’ illustrated NZ history series created for educational purposes, and the author of various other books and booklets including “Because we care”, “That Leaders might last” and “The Elephant in the Room”. Married to Heather, they have four boys and reside in Tauranga, New Zealand.