OUR OLD TOPIC
PREACHING & COMMUNICATION
it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just
be speaking into the air. 10Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none
of them is without meaning. 11If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am
a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me.
1 Corinthians 14:9-11
According to this passage, Preaching and Communication are two
sides of the same coin. Preaching is a way of communicating God's Word to the audience. The communication process depends
on two cardinal parts: 1. The Communicator & 2. The Receiver. For instance, if I write you a letter and you don't receive
it, communication between us HAS NOT TAKEN PLACE. There must be an EXIT POINT & and an ENTRY POINT. The best way to see
whether the communication has taken place is the receiver's response to what was communicated to him/her. To be precise, WE
PREACH TO BE HEARD. That's the main objective. In fact, Jesus taught mostly in parables. Why? He used what educators would
call, "visual stimulus." Parables were the language they understood better. If you're teaching at a rural school, you can
use examples like ploughing, milking cows, and so on to get your message across. That's what Jesus did. He wanted them to
grasp the message.By the same token, such examples may not be used in a "Model C" school, where even blacks hardly know their
PREACHING IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE TO A WRONG AUDIENCE
This is particularly directed to young people who are used by God as preachers. That's where
the problem of communication usually occurs. When preaching, you must know your audience. What language do they speak? How
literate is your audience? Is your audience composed mostly of unbelievers? Is your audience composed mostly of believers?
Such questions you should ask yourself. I'm aware that a defensive statement might arise, "THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL TEACH ME,
I DON'T NEED SUCH QUESTIONS." But I would maintain that, "THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN USE THIS SHORT LESSON TO TEACH YOU."
After the Baptismal of The Holy Ghost, one HAS to be taught; otherwise a disaster is to follow. If this were error, there
wouldn't be any bible college. Likewise when one comes to Jesus, he/she has to be taught.
There's a tendency of young preachers deliberately using English when preaching to illiterate
audiences. Not because the preachers don't know IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, SeSotho, Setswana, Tshivenda, etc., but because of DISPLAY
PURPOSES. You'll find that in doing this, about 70% of the message is in deep English, whilst 30% of the same sermon
is in their mother tongue. I have observed this for years. In fact, I once did it myself but The Lord taught me not to continue.
For example, when speaking to mom and dad, I avoid using even a nugget of English because I know they won't hear. I stick
on what they taught me. On the other hand, when my audience is composed of different nations, I address them in English or
rather prepare for translation. This website is in English because it is an international source of information. I have a
reason for that. It is not sin to preach in English, but the audience is important, otherwise communication will not take
place. I usually speak to Zulu audiences since I'm a Xhosa based in Durban. On them I speak in Zulu. I trained myself. Right
now ke leka ho ithuta Sesotho, not because of mere interest, but to respect indigenous languages. For that reason,
I get invitations from different nations. I study my audience through the help of the Holy Ghost. According to Hollenweger,
(1972:126) "Bhengu was originally a teacher and speaks perfect and vigorous English and elegant Zulu. In Cape Province
he speaks in Xhosa and in Swaziland in SeSwati. He also speaks Shangaan, Sotho and Afrikaans." That's surely because
Rev. Bhengu knew that he was called both for educated and uneducated audiences, a gap which he bridged successfully regarding
the work amongst the Xhosa nation.
The tendency of not respecting indigenous languages goes to a point where pride takes charge.
Don't get me wrong, you can preach in English if there's a TRANSLATOR with you. For example, we all know that people who travel
by train are just ordinary people, most of which are illiterate. Common sense must be able to tell us that English is not
required there unless there is an INTERPRETER / TRANSLATOR. Preaching in your audience's language (if you know it) or rather
using translation will not rip you off your status. Rather
your audience with all humility and readiness of heart will accept the message of God through you.
Again, if the trumpet
does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?
1 Corinthians 14:8 (NIV)
Send us your comments. You can also state whether you would like your comment to be published
here or not. Looking forward to hearing from you.
ABOUT ARROGANCE WHEN PREACHING
BY LINDA EXCELLENT MALAZA
Man of God, I also want to shout out a word of warning to young preachers out there. I happen to also be a preacher
of the gospel (I am at UKZN WESTVILLE), AND I have learned that when preaching language is very important. The first thing
that concerns me is that a lot of young people think that when you are an evangelist you need to be arrogant in speech and
just regard your audience as demon possessed and hopeless sinners. I am also an evangelist but I believe in imitating Christ
in speech. Jesus had a way of addressing His audiences. He was gentle and yet He had no compromise for sin. Therefore I urge
my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord (especially those in ministry).
Linda Excellent Malaza
*Hollenweger, W.J. 1972. The Pentecostals. London: SCM Press.