I use the word ‘effective’ a lot. It’s even in the unofficial ChurchTrain tagline: Efficient, effective ChurchTrain communications.
But did you know this word is used of the Apostle Paul in Acts 14?
Let’s take a few minutes to think about our responsibility for ‘doing things well’ and the results this can have!
Preaching So Effectively
Take a look at Acts 14 (click to read on Bible Gateway!). There are a few accounts here, of two early church missionaries preaching in various places. Right at the beginning, there’s this verse, which we could easily skip over.
At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed.
We’re zeroing in on two words here, from this account in Acts. But they’re important.
Paul and Barnabas spoke so well that a ‘great number’ of people believed. Can you imagine listening to that sermon?!
With the help of the Holy Spirit, Paul and Barnabas spoke with skill, thought and care. They paid attention to what they were saying. They spoke intentionally, and they spoke well.
Of course, I’m not suggesting this is the only time this happens in Acts! In the same chapter, we see Paul and Barnabas preaching in Lystra, using elements of that city’s pagan culture to communicate on a level the crowds could relate to. Throughout the missionaries’ journeys in the early church, we see these contextually-crafted messages used many times.
But these things don’t happen by accident! In order to reference context, you need to thoughtfully observe the culture. In order to speak effectively, you have to think about the words you use.
And, of course, you need to pray for the influence of the Holy Spirit.
After all, this is God’s message, and His church that He has promised to build (Matthew 16:8). He is the one that speaks to people’s hearts and removes the veil; He makes the blind see.
But from scripture, it’s clear that we’re a critical part of His method. To quote Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (p.693):
That is not to say that human proclamation is not involved. In fact, God’s effective calling comes through the human preaching of the gospel, because Paul says, “To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess 2:14).
This whole chapter is helpful on this issue – just don’t get confused by Acts 14’s use of ‘effective’ as a description of the preaching, and the concept of ‘Effective Calling’!
This makes our involvement very evident. But in case you need further persuasion, here are a couple of other examples from scripture!
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.
I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
Our part to play
Got it yet? God uses us! We’re an important part of His plan.
That means we have to put care and attention in to these things – in the same way your pastor spends time laboring over the message he’ll preach every Sunday. It means carefully crafting your messages and your designs to do the best job you can; shaping your communications to be ‘so effective’!
Oh, and before you forget, it also looks like praying for the influence of the Holy Spirit in your church communications!
Related post: Without the Lord the builder’s work is in vain
Part of a bigger picture
Sure, not every piece of the puzzle is the same size, so to speak. Your flyer for next week’s event probably doesn’t need to explain the whole gospel story. It probably doesn’t need 3 weeks of design work with 15 revisions.
But it’s still an important piece of the puzzle, playing an important part. That flyer needs to be attractive enough to catch people’s attention. It needs to be persuasive enough to get them to the event. It’s unlikely someone will be converted after seeing the flyer, but they will probably hear a gospel message if your church flyer design convinces them to attend.
In case you’re wondering, this isn’t an encouragement towards perfectionism – rather towards excellence. Other posts on this blog have covered this before.
Still, in the church today, I see more publicity that has been produced without enough thought than I see things which are ‘too perfect’. It’s not even about the standard of the design, as such. It shows itself more as a misdirection of resources; not enough time or money spent in areas where it matters.
What we do matters. What we say matters.
In a culture that is saturated with brands and marketing messages, we, as a church, need to focus on what we’re saying. And how we’re saying it.
And we need to do this in a way which is ‘so effective’ that a ‘great number’ of hearts and lives are won for Christ.