Rhetoric & Homiletics: Please, Don’t Say That!

See the source image  If You Do, It’s At Your Own Peril!

It was illustrated again this week!

There are some ways of saying something which can and will alienate those who are Bible-believing-evangelical Christians!

Public Speaking:

President Donald Trump stepped into that territory this week when he re-tweeted the words of Wayne Allyn Root, who said . . . .

 “Jewish people in Israel love him [Trump] like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God.”

There are certain clear lines which cannot be crossed when it comes to evangelicals.  That is one of them! —  suggesting that one is in any way on the level of the “King of Israel” and/or is worthy to be identified with “the second coming of God.”

In this case  – both!

Re-tweet or not!

One only makes such comments if they have a “tin-ear.”

Tin Ear: “insensitivity to the appropriateness or subtlety of language.”

They do not understand how that sounds to the audience who is and/or may be hearing it!



However, some pastors may also have a tin ear when it comes to the use of certain sermon illustrations.  I have heard some illustrations and said — “ugh . . . what was he thinking of to use that as an illustration!”

Now what happens at times is that the material is impromptu.  It came to the speaker-preacher’s mind at the moment and was not filtered out by the process of time and re-think.  That is always a danger and the more when a speaker-preacher is well-experienced.  There are a lot of ideas floating around from years of preparation and speaking.


√  Be very cautious about using any material which comes to mind on the spot!

√  Don’t specifically refer to previous members of the church in a negative way, no less by name — Audience: “One day you may use me as an illustration.”

√  Consider* using a general reference rather than being too specific — “There are Christians who can be so divisive and critical in a local church setting.”

√  Consider* moving from — “Some of you here today are doing a terrible job of raising your children to love Jesus. . . .” — to —  “There will be those who in most every church who are doing a terrible job at raising their children. . . . “

√  Be careful who you commend or vouch for**  Audience: “They surely don’t know that person very well!  Got pastor fooled.”

√  Be careful what you commend or reference.  It might have been “good” at a point in time, but it might be far different later. Audience: “He watches/watched ‘Boston Legal’!”

√  Stay away from saying anything which is sexually inappropriate! — “My wife is hot.” / “When I was kid we went skinny dipping at a pond with . . . ” / “I read the story of . . . .”  (I’ll leave it there!).***

√  Be careful when listing this-or-that and then indicating that you wrestle with one or more of those listed items. — i.e. “Some of God’s people wrestle with anger, or impatience, pornography, worry-anxiety, sexual immorality, alcohol or drugs.  I understand the battle with some of these sins.”  Audience: I hope it is “impatience.”

Yes, there are pitfalls when it comes to speaking.  It comes with the position and responsibility!

Ethos” is in play.  People give their attention to or turn-off/tune out when the integrity or credibility of the speaker comes into play!


When it comes to some of these listed pitfalls —  “Been there and done it!”

Now you may be thinking about the last suggestion on the list!  Audience:  I hope it is “using material which comes to mind on the spot” or “referencing a previous church member.”



* I say “consider” because at times a speaker-preacher wants to and should make a strong and pointed reference.

** I know about ending with a preposition — I just refuse to agree or conform!

*** Some speakers-preachers may not realize that they are asking the audience to call up mental images which are so out of place on a Sunday morning in church — and/or out of place — period!



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