Communicating God’s Word is both a noble and important task. As the apostle Paul wrote; “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10:14: NLT)
What people believe about God is influenced by what they are taught about God. The ability to clearly communicate Scripture is essential to both evangelism and discipleship. If we are unable to teach in a way that is understandable, then people will develop wrong beliefs about God.
Woven into the fabric of how and what a preacher teaches about Scripture is how we live our lives. Like it or not, the communicator’s life is a powerful illustration of what we teach. That is why integrity is essential for a preacher’s lasting influence and impact.
Calvin Miller wrote:
The preacher’s integrity must come from spiritual authenticity…any claim of knowing God is pointless unless the speaker is really acquainted with God. This dimension of inner authenticity proclaims itself naturally for those who ‘practice the presence of God.’ This inwardness should never be referred to; it must be silent undergirding of soul which cannot help but proclaim itself. Even unspoken, such devotion will be the loudest part of our proclamation. Our speech is only what we say we are; our inner life in Christ is what we really are.” (The Empowered Communicator, p. 2)
What we preach and teach is going to be measured against what people see in our lives. They want to see if we “practice what we preach”. If people recognize that our lives don’t match our message, then they will not listen to what we have to say. People will not listen preachers and teachers if they are thought to be hypocrites.
This is the reason why spiritual formation in Jesus Christ is essential for Christian communicators. Spiritual formation seeks to integrate the faith that we say we have with the life that we live. This empowers us to live lives that are authentic.
11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. (1 Peter 2:11-12; NLT)
The most important task for any communicator of the Gospel is spiritual formation. Our lives provide a living testimony for the truth that we are teaching. People need to be able to see the truth of the Gospel lived out in our lives. That way our lives authenticate the message that we speak.