Rhetoric & Homiletics: One Way To Lose An Audience

bag of coins.png   What is “the coin of the realm
when it comes to being heard in ministry?

I fear that some
speakers, preachers, and teachers
are going to empty out their accounts.


The crisis that America is experiencing provides an opportunity to learn a little more about communication within the believing community, and without.

At the end of this crisis, there will be many wounded ministry leaders because of their failure to grasp what they are putting on the line.

Let me lay out the case — as I see it.

From a communication perspective (as well as from a pastoral vantage), this is what I see as happening.


See the source image


There will be those who are sincerely frightened by what they genuinely believe to be a virus that could take out them and the loved ones.

√  Sometimes it is the children of parents who live close or far away.

√  Sometimes it is parents who do not want their children (and grandchildren) to think that they are exempt from a serious medical danger.

√  Sometimes, it is the individual themself who knows that — his/her age, or a known underlying medical condition,  and/or a self-awareness of their own weakened health  — puts them at risk.



THE CONTINUUM . . . . .  See the source image

On the other end of the spectrum, there will be those who think that this is all a  maneuver by various political forces.  This-or-that media outlet can’t be trusted, and that proves that there is a political agenda fueling all this.


IN BETWEEN WILL BE . . . . .  

See the source image

In between, are those who believe that “love your neighbor as you love yourself” means that for the sake of others, they are willing to narrow their lives to their “home” — staying inside and/or working around their homes — with as little travel to the stores as is necessary.


There are those in the middle somewhere, who are raising children spanning a variety of different ages and believe that wisdom means that I trust that those who know more and are privy to far more facts and details.


There are those in the middle somewhere, who have been persuaded by the variety of left and right leaders, the credibility of the professional health care speakers, reality and tragedy of what is happening in Italy, and – and – and . . . . .


There are even those somewhere — maybe off of the graph — who don’t really care one way or another for all kinds of reasons that run from understandable to crazy.

“Judging” when I say “crazy?”  No — there are crazy positions on almost any issue.  None of the above are “crazy”  — maybe different from what I think.


Let me suggest that some pastors and ministry leaders, at the end of this, may find themselves with a bruised credibility — at best.  The divide of our nation presents unique challenges to pastors and ministries.  Frankly, my perspective is as an outsider.  I am no longer in college teaching or the pastoral ministry after decades in both.

As a father who grew up and helped raised our four children in the ’70s-’90s, I feel for the parents of today with all of the challenges facing their children.  Likewise, pastoring today has different challenges.

However, whatever the differences in culture, one challenge has never changed — How do we communicate to God’s people and to the world in which we minister?   Whatever the differences — “respect and credibility” are still part of the “effective-communication-equation.”

Proceed with caution when it comes to framing your words during this crisis!   In the end, we don’t have to agree, but we are called upon to think about what we are saying and the positions we express.


Let me suggest that some pastors and ministry leaders, at the end of this crisis, may find themselves with a battered & bruised credibility — at best.


Let me list out some principles which ought to guide what we say (and personally think).

#1) We don’t have all the facts that we need to arrive at a sure position.

#2) We do not know everyone’s medical history and how that shapes his-her’s concern(s) and/or response.  Some people have faced serious — even longterm–  health issues — themselves and with their children.  They may have even lost a child to a seemingly innocuous childhood disease.

#3) As a believer, we are not free to run over the feelings, emotions, fears of others.  Give room to those who disagree with your thinking.  We do not need to all agree, but we all need to be caring and compassionate towards all.  There is never a good reason to be unkind.

#4) This is not about “the law.” It is not about — “What is our liability?”  It is about who we are as a people and whether we will have a ministry to those inside and outside of “the church.”

#5) This is not about right and wrong — maybe it is about good, better, or best — maybe it is about wise and unwise.  Taking the position that one is right and someone else’s response and thinking is wrong  — damages!   That kind of thinking has, and will continue to take its toll on marriages, families, friendships, and ministry!

If you want to damage your credibility — maybe for years — maybe “forever” were someone in your world of influence to die — make statements such as . . . .

(You can put them in your order for the severity of leadership damage)

•  It is obvious that this is over-blown.
•  It is obvious to any thinking person, this is way over-blown
•  We answer to God only, not men. The government has no right to tell us not to meet.
•  The church should do what it thinks best, not local government.
•  We can gather as long as we take reasonable precautions.
•  Trust God, He is our shield and our sun.
•  Let’s not be pansies about this all.  There are far more who die of the seasonal flu every year.  Look at the FACTS!
•  This is an attack on our first amendment rights.
•  I’ll be here preaching, along with those who are also just trusting the Lord


Part of the coinage which leadership trades in is respect and credibility.  We rely on that to be heard by both God’s people and the unbelieving world around us.

√  Walk humbly, circumspection, and lovingly (I Corinthians 13).  Start here:  While I think I am right, my thinking may be wrong!

√  There are people who are severely ill, suffering, dying, and dead from Covid-19, in the USA.  Even some who are believers, who lived for God, prayed and trusted God all their lives.  And, some of them are people we know and/or knew.

√  We are not called to be political pundits, sociological commentators, or medical advisors, but to shepherd the flock of God, caring for lambs, sheep, and even some rams — illustrated in Psalm 23.

√  Take into account a wide span of biblical admonitions.  They are designed to balance and temper our thinking.  The Scriptures do not only call upon us to trust the Lord, but they also call upon us to not jump off the pinnacle. 1



What is
“the coin of the realm”
when it comes to being heard in ministry?

Respect & Credibility



I fear that some
speakers, preachers, and teachers
are going to empty out their accounts.



1. While safety is of the Lord, the horse is also prepared for the day of battle.  Keep the balance between the ends and the means of how the Lord saves and delivers His people.

Proverbs 22:3 — A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
Oh . . . AGAIN
Proverbs 27:12 — A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.






3 thoughts on “Rhetoric & Homiletics: One Way To Lose An Audience

  1. Thanks, Pastor. I see you in the pulpit in my mind preaching these words, and I feel like I’ve been to church. Sure would be nice to read more of your words.


    1. Thanks Vicky..and Tim…I have so many great memories from over the years….deli, plays, music ministry, Bible studies, homeless ministry, at your home, outreach……….God bless


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