Communicators of the Scriptures, including preachers (pastors, evangelists, missionary church planters) and believers in their daily witness, must all understand the worthiness of the message. It is the Word of God—the Gospel that saves souls (Romans 1:16), and the eternal truths which bring about spiritual growth (2 Timothy 3:16-17). They must therefore grasp the importance of interpreting these truths (hermeneutics) and presenting them (homiletics) with abject fidelity to the text.

Clearly the message with this life-changing power should be turning “the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Yet, much of the world remains outside of Christ. There are evidently failures or weaknesses in the effectiveness of this “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18-20).

It seems that one significant weakness is what could be termed “one-way communication”—speaking without being heard. Though the message is being faithfully proclaimed, the obstacle is too often the receptivity of the hearer’s heart. What is being said, even with careful preparation and passion, is perhaps not being heard at all! It may be fostering confusion secondary to the pervasive presence of false teaching in this day. It may be rejected totally or in part, because of a variety of personal relationships or negative experiences in the hearer’s history. Most people have developed a multi-layed filtering system (protective shell) which in large measure determines how they listen to others (if at all) and how much trust they place in what is being said to them.

Bottom line? The soil of the hearer’s heart must be soften and tilled up in order to be receptive to the seed, the Word. Words such as caring, compassion, investment, time, and trust come to mind. The believer makes the investment, and the Holy Spirit does the work.

Written by Steve Anderson, Field Administrator with Baptist World Mission