We all are trying to communicate something. Our passion comes out on our platforms. It is natural.
As a preacher, I desire to communicate truths about God from the Bible. I don’t put trust in my communication ability because I believe in the power of God, but that doesn’t mean that I am slack in my approach either. There is a ditch on both sides of that road. Some preachers put too much pressure on their ability and some remove too much responsibility concerning their preparation.
rhetoric – the art or study of using language effectively and persuasively
According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, rhetoric is “the ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion.”
Aristotle said that rhetoric should contain the following three components:
- Ethos – the credibility of the communicator.
- Pathos – the emotions of the audience
- Logos – the power of reasoning shared by the communicator and the audience
Establishing credibility is supremely important. People need a reason to listen to you other than the fact you have the microphone. Not just mere experience or skill, but what is the manner of your credibility that allows you to speak on such a matter?
“It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.” -Charles Spurgeon
As a preacher, I am not to cater the emotions of a congregation, but I don’t neglect it either. If ethos is knowing who the preacher is, pathos is understanding who the congregation is. Where are they? What are the emotions? What are the legitimate needs?
“Would ministers preach for eternity! They would then act the part of true Christian orators, and not only calmly and cooly inform the understanding, but, by persuasive, pathetic address, endeavor to move the affections and warm the heart.” -George Whitefield
Words are important. In fact, you can have outstanding credibility, impeccable understanding of the audience, and fail to connect in the moment due to a lack of articulation. Reasoning doesn’t mean you have to be the best orator, but it should mean you strive to be your best with your ability. Use your words well.
“Have a big idea. Say one thing well!” -Louie Giglio
The Pivotal Additional Element in Preaching: Theos
For our purposes, we need to add one more to the equation: Theos – the power that brings it all together and changes lives.
Theos is the Greek word for God.
Communication can be solid, the timing can be perfect, and the communicator be quality, and it can still lack effectiveness.
Preaching void of a dependence on the power of God is mere communication.
The Apostle Paul knew the importance of using words, integrity, and timing, but he also trusted in the power of God. At first glance, two of his writings may look to be in opposition to one another, but they are not. Read:
- Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. -2 Cor. 5:11 (NASB)
- And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. -1 Cor. 2:1-5 (NASB)
Is there a contradiction between these two passages?
No, I am to be found “struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.” (Col. 1:29)
We do all we can do to make sure our persuasion is our best but we trust that the Word of God and Spirit of God are the only ones able to transform lives.
O, what a glorious mystery that God has chosen that he would sovereignly utilize the proclamation of the gospel to persuade men! It is God at work through the hands of people (Acts 19:11).
Are you communicating God’s Word to someone else? Here are 4 checkpoints for you:
- Ethos – Am I preaching to myself before I preach to others? Is this truth I am preparing to share establishing my own credibility?
- Pathos – Am I aware of to whom I am preaching? Am I praying? Am I involved in their lives?
- Logos – Am I doing diligence to prepare my words and thoughts? Have I studied enough to where this truth is overflow?
- Theos – Am I trusting in God’s power or my own? Do I believe that God can changes lives today?