I’m a pastor. Much of what I do involves the thoughtful arrangement of words. I try not to use the first word that comes to mind when trying to deliver the truth of God. Instead I work hard at arranging my words and phrases in such a way that people cannot sleep through them.
I used embellished language… By embellished language I do not mean stretching the truth or distorting the truth for my own purpose. By embellished language I do not mean using impressive or obtuse vocabulary and specialized language that requires a glossary to define. By embellished language I mean arranging or expressing simple words in memorable and evocative ways, like aphorisms or axioms or with a compelling cadence or rhythm.
If words are thoughtfully arranged they can express truths that are often lost in a fog of abstraction and make them as concrete as blood and ice and flowers and life and death.
Often we preachers deal in the most wonderful and eternal truths in such abstract ways that people are completely unmoved. Our words float harmlessly over their heads. Our terms and phrases are so tired and worn and familiar that we are unable to rouse them from their sleep in the face of immanent death. We string together lifeless cliches and wonder why people worship without passion and come and go dutifully from our public services unmoved and unchanged.
Paul used plain language. His language was clear and direct and his message was accompanied by spiritual power. (2 Corinthians 2:4) There is no substitute for the Spirit’s power. We are called to speak for God. We should study the Word of God and pray until we know that what we are saying is faithful to the text and evident in our lives. Then we should express ourselves in plain language and in clear, concrete, fresh, and arresting ways.
Grab them by the throat, I like to say.