Sermonic Treadmills!

journey Journey vs. Theological Treadmill

In listening to Trey Gowdy, you can only conclude that he is a very effective speaker!

When people say, “I like Trey Gowdy!” they are really commenting on the fact that he communicates to them; he speaks to them; they follow his train of thought and enjoy hearing it said in a way that connects and pinpoints the issues so clearly!

It is his communication abilities that accounts for much of his receptivity and reputation!

If you as a speaker or a pastor do not grasp the connection between you speaking ability and your leadership, you do not understand effective ministry!  That is unmistakenly the case with a person like Trey Gowdy.

AND . . . .

One of the reasons that he is so effective is because he has a legal mind and that legal mind has . . . .

  • the desire
  • the inclination
  • the itch

. . . . to walk an audience through a speech/message in a very orderly way!

Gowdy has the proclivity to speak to people in a way that brings them along with him on his journey!

He has “chunked out” the flow of his message and knows what he is doing and what he wants to accomplish in every “chunk.”

He is speaking with a defined and clear set of directions!

His mind grasps the logical flow of the message.

If a speaker or preacher is not logical in his thinking processes, and/or is, but does not see that the same logical flow must be reflected in his speech or message, he will not be taking the audience on a journey, but on a prolonged theological treadmill experience.

Link To Full Youtube  or link to the video of just this cut

(Trey Gowdy at Second Baptist Woodway Texas — Beginning at the 3:24 minute mark)

Tim Scott and I wrote a book together

I guess it’s start I wish we had a picture of Tim Scott

I don’t know how many of you know

there he is — he’s the one — depending on —where you’re sitting well he’s bald-headed —if that helps he’s the one on the left or right but —this circular thing has me all messed up — he’s the one this bald-headed

we eat dinner together every night that we’re in Washington and I guess it was about two years ago we sat down to dinner and said Trey I want to do something shocking I want to do something surprising— and I thought well great he’s gonna buy dinner tonight

he said I want to do something that shocks every teacher I ever had

he said – I want to write a book

I said Tim, if you read a book it would shock every teacher you ever have — you don’t have to write one

he said now I want to write one

so then the challenge becomes what do you write a book about

and I wanted to write a book about how miserable it is to run for public office and all the terrible mean things that are said— about you some of which by the way are not true— not all of them are not true but nonetheless how difficult it is to run for public office in our current political environment

I said – that’s what I want to write about

and I started thinking when I first ran in District Attorney I remembered our then young daughter Abigail walking into my home office holding the local newspaper tears streaming down her face saying

please tell me it’s not true
daddy please tell me it’s not true
I said Abigail let me see it
I mean let me see what they said
Oh daddy please tell me it’s not true
please tell me you’re not a lawyer

that’s only partially true

we wrote a book about unity

and I get the joke

this is a crazy political environment for anyone to be talking about the need for unity
but Tim and I have been there for
the last eight years I love contrast

contrast is exactly what we need in a pluralistic society I appreciate the fact that we’re not all going to eat at the same restaurant when we leave church

I appreciate the fact that everybody doesn’t pull for the Cowboys if there is another team I think in Texas

I appreciate the fact that people have different views on the size and scope of government
and people have different
views on every political issue

I think it’s great that we have contrast

it’s exactly what you would expect in a pluralistic melting pot Society

but whenthat contrast morphs into conflict

when you can no longer have a conversation with someone

when you began to challenge motives

when you begin to question people’s patriotism – because they happen to have a different political belief structure

that’s when I get worried

you know you — when Tim and I say we’re writing a book on unity — I love the media — the media said — well y’all are both Republicans from South Carolina— youalmost have everything in common

look at the picture

you have you have a black man and a white man

from the state where the civil war began writing a book together — I guess we should celebrate the fact that that’s no longer newsworthy

I mean that I guess we should celebrate the fact that that alone is no big deal and I do celebrate that because when Tim and I were born we could not go to school together we now teach a class together at a school

so the progress has been phenomenal in our lifetime
don’t think for a second
just because we’re from the same state
and we have roughly the same political views
that we are the same

Tim and I have a lot of differences

we have differences with respect to our relationship with law enforcement

I was a prosecutor for 20 years

every time I’ve ever been stopped was because I deserve to be stopped

and a few times I have not been stopped I should have been stopped

I’ve never had a negative experience with law enforcement

if anything I would be biased towards law enforcement and I confess that bias

Tim Scott

wasstop seven times

in the course of one year

as an elected official

I don’t wear the house pin I have a colleague here John Culbertson who’s also a friend I don’t know whether he’s got it on he we’re supposed to wear a house pin I don’t wear one

I’ve never been stopped trying to seek entry into a capital building

Tim Scott does where the Senate pin — he’s got it on in the picture

he’s been stopped

he’s been physically stopped

so we have different experiences with law enforcement

we have different faith experiences

he’s an optimist

he’s always looking for the good and any factor

he’s hopeful

he thinks tomorrow’s gonna be better than today

and I’m a former prosecutor

which means I have a really low opinion of mankind

which the good news is is a rarely disappointed

and I’m even more rarely surprised

but we come at life I mean I am a skeptic and a cynic and he is an optimist

and do not minimize the different narratives that that presents you for life

Tim has never been married

I’ve been married for 29 years

Tim has no children

I have two

-which means Tim has never had a child asks for money minutes after you gave them some money

-and Tim does not know what it’s like to have a child major in philosophyI wish I were kidding

– then go to law school

– then graduate law school

– and tell his mom and dad that he would like to pursue a career as a professional golfer

— all of which has happened in the last four weeks

I think I have a better idea now of why Tim does not have children

Tim grew up in a single-parent household

– his mom worked at the hospital

– changing bedpans 

– 18 hours a day

I had a parent that worked at a hospital too

– mom was a doctor

 think the moment I knew — that despite the fact

that we’re from the same state

and we may have the same initials after our name

that our lives were very very different — was about four years ago with that same table at that same restaurant in Washington and Tim was telling me a story by his grandfather who was the only male figure in his life

Mr. Artemus Ware lived to be 94 years of age

and Tim was telling me

how his grandfather would hold up the Charleston Post and Courier at breakfast

wanted Tim to appreciate education

wanted Tim to value current events

— what’s going on in the world

— got to stay informed

 got to stay educated

— so rather than telling him that he modeled it

— read the newspaper every morning at breakfast

and I couldn’t help but interrupt — then said well we got that in common – Tim my father did the exact same thing my dad held up a different paper the Spartanburg Herald

but he held it up every morning and if one of my three sisters would deign to ask him a question

he would lower it

answer it maybe

and then raise it back up

I said we got that in common too

ain’t that neat

Tim said the difference there —is

my grandfather couldn’t read

he died not being able to read

he faked it

faked it because he wanted a grandson to pick out a seat in the United States Congress

instead of picking cotton for a living

so yeah you can look at that and see the similarities

but even people you think are similar have differences

and even people you think are different and they got nothing in common

you’d be surprised

you’d be surprised

so we decided to write a book on being more unified

and aren’t we lucky that is believers we had such an incredible model for that

I don’t know how closely you follow current events

and maybe it’s the cynicism and the skepticism in me but

— it just feels like it’s getting worse

— it just feels like we can’t have a conversation with people that have a different belief structure

— it feels like every day is election day

— it feels like when we go home at night we vote

depending on what channel we want to watch

depending on what radio station we want to listen to

every day is election day

and then I have that validated with the polling that indicates

if you are a Democrat two-thirds of all self-identified Democrats do not have a Republican friend

two-thirds of all self-identified Republicans do not have a Democrat friend

so if you are trying to figure out what motivates the thinking of someone that you disagree with —who better to ask than someone that you disagree with

but if you don’t know that person

if there’s no one in your life – I don’t know who you’re supposed to ask

I’m lucky I don’t have to walk very far to find somebody that disagrees with me and I’m not talking about in the House I’m talking about in my house

I live with a 21year old socialist —that is not my wife —my wife —my wife looks 21 but my wife is not 21

that is our daughter

our mark — our daughter has very different positions on issues than her father

— we don’t argue about it

— our voices aren’t raised

— I don’t challenge

— I don’t view myself as a failure —like some of my other family members do —view me as being a failure for raising ayear old socialist

here’s the way I look at it —Abigail can you tell me why you believe what you believeis there a factual basis for it

and then I think back to when I wasand how much I have changed and intervening -30 something years

but I am NOT —

I am NOT gonna have a fractured relationship with my daughter

and if that means I got to sit there and listen to something that I’m not a hundred percent crazy about hearingthen I’m gonna do it

if you are a believer

— then I want to I want you to eavesdrop

— I’m not asking you this question

— I’m gonna ask myself this question

— I don’t want you to eavesdrop in on it

— giving you permission to listen in as I have a conversation with myself

Are you a believer who happens to be interested in the political process

or are you a Republican or Democrat who happens to attend church

Are you will believer who happens to want to be civically engaged

or are you a Republican or a Democrat who happens to attend church.

what is the source of your identity

There was a British theologianpolitician -statesman -controversial writings on the one hand but had a quote that I cannot get out of my head

a man named GK Chesterton

he said . . . . It’s not the Christianity has been tried and found wanting or lacking or insufficient

it is that Christianity is hard

and therefore it’s rarely been tried

and I can’t get that out of my head because

it is hard

it is counterintuitive to what we are told to do and what we watch

it is counterintuitive to love your enemies

it is counterintuitive to pray for those who persecute you

it is counterintuitive when some asks for your shirt – to give them your cloak as well,

and it is most assuredly counterintuitive to live in this current environment and know that Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers

it is hard,

but if you want to seek the kind of unity that Senator Scott and I want to see, then the change will come from you

it will not come from your elected officials.



As an aside, also notice his “stacking” of restated and repeated words, phrases, sentences.  I tried to visually represent that in the above transcription (— ).

Also, notice how he stacks up with the aim of leading to a climax and vocal pauses to punch the climax . . . .

Tim grew up in a single-parent household

– his mom worked at the hospital
– changing bedpans
– 18 hours a day

I had a parent that worked at a hospital too

– mom was a doctor


Think about what you are seeking to accomplish in the various sections or chunks of your speech or message!

√ Here I want to introduce the topic

√ Then here, I want to give a story about that topic.

√ Now – Personally: “I faced that same kind of situation when I was on a missions trip with my family and . . . “

√ Then, in this next section, I want to bring in where the tension is when it comes to living out that topic / truth / principle.

√ Next: bringing in the biblical story or passage in regards to that.


Andy Stanley* says it this way . . . .

“I’ve always thought of a sermon, or any talk for that matter, as a journey.  You start somewhere, you go somewhere, and ultimately you end up somewhere.  The question is, did you end up where you wanted to go?”


Can I suggest that too many do not end up where they wanted to go because they are on a sermonic treadmill just talking about the topic, and not moving the audience along a particular path!

It is a running commentary on the obvious, the ordinary, and the trite.

It is not a sermon that drives home truth to the heart!


* Andy Stanley is one of the best communicators in contemporary church life.  Disagree with him as you will on this or that that does not make him less of an outstanding communicator.

P.S.  Over the last several months Andy Stanley has been severely criticized and even called a “heretic” by others.  Please don’t call him a “heretic” without trying to honestly understand where he is coming from.  Read his lengthy response and at least show yourself fair-minded, not a theological reactionary.  While I may disagree with his approach or his approach at times — or his “apologetic” goal or how he goes after his goal — or his “apologetic philosophy, ” — or that he may give away too much to the unbelieving listener, nevertheless I would be unfair to label him a heretic!  Such a comment borders on, or maybe even is, slandering a brother in Christ.  That is what some pastors complain about at times when comments are made about them while at the same time some they do the same to others.

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