But Ms. Meyer was not done assaulting my Christian sensibilities. She suggested: “People feel left out and frustrated when you use insider’s language,” and remarked that, “People aren’t impressed with your theological vocabulary and holy dialect.” In other words, a sure-fire way to guarantee no unchurched person will ever become churched is to quote scripture to them. (After all, if scripture isn’t “theological vocabulary” and “holy dialect,” what is?)
And yet, it is the word of God that convicts us of our sin and brings us to saving faith. Consider these few key passages: “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17); “It pleased God by the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:21); “My speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4-5).There is a reason the unchurched are not impressed by our theological vocabulary and our holy dialect. It’s not because they don’t understand it. It’s because they can’t.
Scripture is clear that “the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). For the sake of the unchurched and the glory of God, we have to reckon with the biblical testimony that apart from Christ human beings are “dead in trespasses and sins” with minds blinded by the god of this world so that we cannot see “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (Eph. 2:1; 2 Cor. 4:4). And this spiritual blindness will remain until the God of sovereign grace, who in the beginning said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” makes His light shine in our hearts to give us the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).
The church has been called to communicate a message that, short of a miracle of the Spirit of God, is a “stumbling block” to unbelievers. However, rather than shrink back from proclaiming this message based on perceived “success,” we must be bold to declare the wonders of the Cross and leave the opening of hearts to the Author of the word.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
It’s not our creative packaging of the message that causes an unchurched person to truly hear. It’s not our words, our Power Point presentation, the lighting in the room, or the professional signage throughout the building. It is the Spirit of God working through the word of God that produces a response from those who otherwise couldn’t care less about what we are saying. Ms. Meyer’s list betrays a total dependence on human ingenuity to accomplish what only God can accomplish.