Content or delivery?

leah reading

Western Society demands that communication be entertaining. Style and delivery has eclipsed the importance of message content.

Even in the Christian community, it has become expected that if one is to communicate a message from the Word of God, the way in which that message be delivered must be polished, entertaining, and professional. One must undergo years of training and practice in order to learn how to deliver truth in the acceptable manner. It must be smooth, it must be captivating, and above all, it must entertain the audience.

What is so tragic about this is that the average Christian is more concerned about how a message is given, than how accurate the message itself is.

One of the greatest drawbacks of this condition is the effect it has on the body of Christ as a whole in terms of communicating truth. This is now commonly relegated to a few specialists who we call clergy, to be the speakers of God’s Word. After all, they have the credentials, the training, and most importantly, the right delivery.

In the Bible, Paul said, “I came not to you in flowery speech of men’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Cor. 2:4-5 NKJV

We have put a premium on spontaneous communication. It is impressive to be able to ad-lib a message and there are a few who can do that well. But what about the vast majority of believers who are not gifted, trained orators? Communicating truth, whether preaching the gospel or teaching the Word to believers, appears as a formidable task because of the unwritten expectations as to how it must be done.

For many years, my wife and I have been involved in cross-cultural communication of the gospel to the Manqui (pronounced MON-WHO-EE) people in the jungles of Paraguay. In order to minimize grammatical error and ensure accuracy of content, I found it necessary to write out every word of each lesson I prepared for teaching. The goal was always, good understanding.

Rather than attempt to ad-lib and risk making errors, I chose to stay very close to the text of the lesson. Basically I read the lesson, adding additional thoughts as the Lord would bring them to mind. This approach ensured that everything I had prepared to communicate was indeed covered, and not forgotten. Again, accurate and thorough communication of truth was the goal.

The Manqui people came to understand that God had delivered His Word to man in written form. We had stressed over and over again, that the message we were imparting to them was not our message. In order to demonstrate the importance of the written word, we essentially read each lesson as a model for how they, too, could pass on God’s truth to others. The last thing we wanted was to burden the new believers with the idea that in order to teach the Word of God one must stand up and, from memory, deliver the message.

This style of teaching is “user friendly” for just about anyone and does not require years of training. In the beginning, the Manqui were still in the process of learning to read. As they began to teach the gospel message to others in their own tribe, their delivery was anything but polished and entertaining. What is amazing, however, is that accuracy of information was always maintained and correct understanding achieved by the listener. With time, the men became more proficient in their reading skills, and as they gained confidence in their role, they began to elaborate on the lesson material quite naturally.

Reading may not be the most entertaining way of delivering the message of the gospel, but when it comes to accuracy of content—it is a good way.

 

Author: Amos Kwok

Editor, curriculum development manager and editorial production manager at the international office.