Christianity is full of hard truths.
- Eternal separation from God does in fact exist.
- When we say ‘Jesus is Lord’ by definition that means Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna and others are not Lord.
- Jesus’ followers are to tithe . . . which still means 10%.
- Sexual intimacy is blessed only in marriage.
- Jesus really will return one day to judge the quick and the dead.
In the eyes of modern culture, most of those assertions are delusional at best and evil at worst. In the eyes of many people in church, those claims are often met with skepticism and suspicion.
Especially the one about tithing.
But the question remains: how can a pastor or church communicate those kinds of difficult truths in ways that 21st people can still hear?
Here are some guidelines we try to follow:
- Name the struggle: “I know this sounds almost crazy, but . . . “
- Acknowledge personal difficulty in accepting certain beliefs: “Sometimes I wonder how it is that a loving God would allow people to spend eternity apart from him . . . “
- Avoid cliches. Christian communicators are the least believable when they resort to tired cliches and insider lingo when teaching on complex issues.
- Embrace transparency. People do not like being talked at. The enjoy being taken on a journey as a fellow passenger. We are free with naming and confessing the ways we have fallen short in living out the very truths we try to explain.
Those are just a few of the principles we try to live by as communicators at Good Shepherd.
I suppose when we get it right, we communicate hard truths in soft ways.