Be more specific than "points" or "things"

"The craft of communicating with speech and writing requires words, so if that’s your craft, you’ll want to develop your ability to use words well." Andy Naselli, Thoughts on Theology

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Donn R Arms's picture

Of all the things (issues, problems, aspects, attributes, facets, items, needs, parts, steps, etc . . .) wrong with modern preaching chief among them is not using the wrong synonym for "points."

Instead of announcing "points" (or whatever they are called) Jay Adams taught his homiletic students to just make them. See his recent blog on the subject here.


Donn R Arms

Dick Dayton's picture

E.B.White, author of Charlotte's Web, and his English teacher at Cornell University collaborated on a book called "The Elements of Style," giving good practical advice about direct style and clear communication. I required it of pastoral interns because preaching is a form of spoken writing. An essential text for those who wish to communicate eternal truths. 

Dick Dayton

Paul J. Scharf's picture

"Point" is not, in my humble opinion.

Would that we were all like D. James Kennedy, who inserted one word into every sermon that no one would understand except from its connotation, so that listeners could grow their English vocabulary!

I am all for precise and imaginative preaching, but I agree with Donn. This one is low on my list!



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Jonathan Charles's picture

I don't think it makes a huge deal, but it does sometimes reveal a failure to think carefully through the argument of a text.  A text from Paul's epistles hasn't been understood unless we can detect reasons, causes, inferences, explanations, purposes, etc.  To take a text and preach "points" shows that the way the argument progresses hasn't been grasped. 


Steven Thomas's picture

I always appreciate Andy's thoughtful book reviews and recommendations.  I do not have this one on my shelf--but I will soon; after all, words are our business.   Clearly the example Andy selected is not about "chief" problems in modern preaching, but rather serves to illustrate how a little thought invested in wordcraft can make preaching more engaging and interesting, not to mention more precise.  That should make it a book worth reading.

Steven Thomas

Rob Fall's picture

To me, the proper use of divisional words is a mark of good craftsmanship.  The late Richard Weeks of MBBC\MBU pounded into his Jr\Sr homiletics class:

If you want your listeners to remember what preached, thing is all but useless as a divisional word.

At least, that's how I remember him saying over forty years later.

Pages 65 through 81 of A Biblical Manual for Preaching by Lloyd M. Perry pretty well encapsulate Dr. Weeks' classes.  On pages 67-69 can be found close to 320 divisional words.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..