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By Darrick Young

The breeze was warm and the people were excited as we sat out under the stars in a village in Central America conducting an open-air service on a mission trip. One of the leaders from our team had been asked to preach that night and was using a translator to bring the hope of the gospel to the crowd. I don’t remember much of what he said, but I do remember that his two main illustrations in this tropical village were about snow skiing and playing paintball with his family. The best part of the whole night was watching the interpreter try to explain paintball to the puzzled crowd. Our speaker had found a way to get his eager audience to tune out.

Every Sunday we have the opportunity to bring the life-changing message of the gospel to our churches. Or we have the opportunity to ensure they won’t hear a thing we say. If that’s your goal, here are five easy steps to reach it:

1. Make sure you talk about things no one cares about.

When the people in your church are struggling with relationships, guilt, lack of purpose, or questions about their future, give them your fifteen-minute breakdown of the Urim and Thummim on the high priest’s breastplate. Or if you want people to hear you, give them something that matters Monday through Saturday.

Ask: What real life issues can I apply the gospel to this week or this series?

2. Use plenty of insider language.

Invite everyone to fill out their “GIG” card and drop it in the offering without explaining what the “GIG” is. Encourage people to see “Bob” after the service to sign up for the men’s camping trip because everyone knows who Bob is, right? Use lots of churchy language as you “plead the blood of the Lamb over the house of God.” Or if you want people to hear you, chuck the acronyms and insider language and speak in plain, contemporary language.

Ask: What terms or phrases are barriers to my communication?

3. Assume that everyone in your audience is familiar with the Scriptures.

Quote verses or phrases from verses without any reference or biblical context. Do drive-by references to characters or stories in the Bible because everyone knows that we need to have the same kind of faith Daniel had in the lion’s den. Wait? You didn’t know about the lion’s den? Really? Or if you want people to hear you and, more important, hear God’s Word, take the time to provide context. Assume no biblical knowledge.

Ask: Do we talk about the Bible like everyone in the room already knows what we’re talking about?

4. Don’t give your audience any practical application steps.

Just end things with some vague thoughts about the goodness of God and send them out the door with a prayer and a challenge to go and “live for God this week.” Or if you want people to hear you, help them take the truths of Scripture and apply them in a simple action step this week.

Ask: Now that I’ve given them the “why,” have I told them the “what” and the “how”?

5. Make sure the only voice they hear is yours.

Live by the credo “They can have my pulpit when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.” Preach every Sunday and every midweek Bible study and teach a Sunday school class. Maybe let someone else talk to the youth, but that’s it. Or if you want people to hear you, develop other communicators who can bring fresh perspective and help you to develop as a better communicator.

Ask: Who else can I develop as a communicator for my church?

About The Author

Darrick Young

Darrick Young serves as the lead pastor for Journey Church in Johnston, Iowa, and the church planting director for Open Bible’s Central Region. He and his wife, Ranada, have two children and reside in Grimes, Iowa.