Preaching to Non-Believers

Those of us who preach have to be concerned about being understood by those who don’t yet believe or who are new to the faith.

Too much theological vocabulary can hinder the message from being understood, yet too little theology can fail to communicate the gospel faithfully.

We do not remove the barriers to communicating the gospel by simply discarding all uniquely Christian language.

If we give a sermon and do not talk about God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, humanity’s adoption, eternal life, resurrection, grace, forgiveness, or other key ideas of the gospel, then we have not given a Christian sermon. We have given a motivational speech.

We remove barriers to understanding by simplifying and defining terms. Here are a few examples:

  • Instead of saying “the incarnation” I might say “when God the Son became human, an event we call ‘the incarnation’”.
  • Instead of saying “the Trinity” I might say “God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”.
  • Instead of saying “Jesus makes us righteous” I might say “Jesus puts us into a right relationship with his Father, himself, and their Holy Spirit.”

If you preach, do not allow your concern about speaking to non-believers drive you to abandon the Christ-centered content and vocabulary of the gospel. Rather, let that concern drive you to find simple, easy to understand ways of explaining the gospel.

~ Jonathan Stepp

1 comment so far

  1. Jerome on

    Good pointers! Thanks, Pastor J.


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