Mist and Fog

Howard Hendricks, quipped, “If there is a mist in the pulpit, there will be a fog in the pew.” As far as I know, this wasn’t a comment about flatulence from the pastor, but instead is referring to unclear teaching. If the pastor is uncertain about what he’s teaching, and thus unclear in his delivery of the message, the congregation will completely miss the point of message. But this applies not only to the sermon, but also to the music and liturgy of the day. So how can we be sure our services are clear and communicating what we want them to communicate? Here are 3 ways we can ensure we’re not creating a fog in the pews.

  • Be Clear

I had a professor in seminary who said of preaching there’s four rules: be clear, be clear, be clear, above all else be clear. Walk your congregation through what you’re doing and why. This allows you opportunities to teach the importance of regular habits and disciplines in the Christian life, and also gives you an opportunity to model how other believers can carry out some of their own practices at home. We get to demonstrate to our entire body how we pray, how we think about God, how we sing about God, how we taste God (through the celebration of communion), and how we worship God through our whole lives. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:1 ring true here “imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Is your example clear enough that people can imitate the right things?

  • Explain What You’re Doing

We celebrate communion differently at our different campuses, so we get to explain them a little differently each time, but each way gives us an opportunity to explain the importance of communion, why we practice communion, and a time to encourage everyone to examine themselves before taking of the body and blood of our Lord. Bob Kauflin encourages music leaders to think through their services and explain what needs to be explained. So do you need to explain why you’ve chosen a specific song that day? Or how one song ties into the next song you’re about to sing? Or how a specific passage of Scripture is illuminated through a refrain you’ve just song? Or maybe how multiple songs point us to the main theme of the sermon or passage of Scripture that has just been sung? All of these things are opportunities to demonstrate to the congregation what we’re doing and why.

  • Don’t Assume

I had very influential Sunday school teacher teach me the value of never assuming, because it will make an a– out of you and me! When we’re the ones planning our services it can often be easy for us to assume everyone will see what we’ve worked so hard to communicate! We’re also often very closely attached to what we’ve carefully curated so it can be difficult to see areas that may need some clear communication. I’ve found that it’s far better to OVER communicate than to UNDER communicate. This way we can know that people are making the correct connections and understandings of the various aspects of our service.

So how do you make sure there isn’t a fog in your pews during your service? Have you ever thought through more specific ways we can explain why we do what we do on a Sunday or is just the way it’s always been done?

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