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Category: Evangelism

When Words Fail


Often, while speaking of God, I will talk in one direction, stop, turn, and stop again, only to find that I’ve run out of words without completing my thought.

At the beginning, the issue seems clear enough. I’m moving along under a full head of steam, when I suddenly spot a break in the track up ahead. I jump to another line, engine shuddering, as I try to maintain speed. But just around the corner, there’s that same break. Except for now, it’s a chasm. So I stop, try another metaphor, pull out a different analogy, hoping that this time I’ll jump the divide. But there it is again, looming ever larger.

And I wonder at this gift of words that is also a curse. After all, language gives us freedom to relate, to connect and create. What is the Church? It’s just a word. But the collection of our shared understandings, of our hopes, of our fears, of our deepest needs has made this word into a physical place of refuge for some, a family for others.

This same language, however, also confines. We are imprisoned in a society held up by words that are not our own, and we are isolated from those we love by a failure to communicate what we really mean, what we truly need.

What then can I do when my experience of God — of the very source of love, truth and life — transcends language? What dare I try when words fail me?

What dare I try when words fail me?



Religion stabilizes society, instills patterns of behavior that ensure a community’s longevity. But is that what it’s supposed to do? what it was created to do?

As for us, have our efforts been to transform society or just to control it? Have we left room for creative engagement (or burned our bridges)?

Empires have tended to use religion to exploit. So what do Christians do about a world in which religion for so long has been an empire (if not the empire)? What responsibility do we have for exploitation done in the name of religion?

As for us, have our efforts been to transform society or just to control it?



Frequently, in ministry-related planning sessions, someone will say something like the following: “We’re not going to compromise the message.”

It’s a statement that catches my attention because it reveals the speaker’s opinion of others in the group: they can’t be trusted.

Is it possible that some of what we ascribe to the “message” is not, in fact, central to what we believe?

Is it possible that we sometimes confuse cultural values with moral values?

Is it possible to think before we speak?

we sometimes confuse cultural values with moral values

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