In a recent interview with Tullian Tchividjian, he recommended that young pastors learn to “Comprehend high and communicate low.” For pastors and theologians that give their live to studying a library of complicated theological works, this can be difficult.
We’ve all experienced at some point or another being in a conversation with somebody that knows so much about something that it seems like they are talking in a foreign language.
It happens when pre-teens start talking about Minecraft. A bunch of pre-teens gather around talking about their servers, texture packs, briefing, or something else that I really don’t understand.
Meanwhile you are standing there like, “So you build stuff?"
This happens to me whenever I get my car fixed. The professionals know so much about cars that an ordinary person like myself cannot understand anything beyond “It is going to cost $500 because it is broke.”
As preachers, we eat, sleep, and breathe theological works. We love to read books by guys who are dead and wrote brilliantly hundreds of years ago. We love to listen to other preachers and understand how they proclaim the Word and find out what books they are reading and who they are learning from.
But the people we preach to aren’t in the same boat. I’m not preaching to seminarians or professors. I’m not preaching to theological connoisseurs who treat their preachers like tasting a fine-wine; I’m preaching to ordinary people who are looking for a sermon in a language that they can understand with a theology that matters for the life they live.
Martin Luther said it this way:
“To preach plain and simple is a great art: Christ himself talks of tilling ground, of mustard seed, etc; he uses altogether homely and similitudes. Cursed are all preachers that in the church aim at high and hard things, and neglecting the saving health of the poor unlearned people, seek their own honor and praise…When I preach, I sink myself deep down. I regard neither Doctors or Magistrates, of whom, are here in this church above forty; but I have my eye to the multitude of young people, children, and servants, of whome are more than 2000. I preach to those.” - Martin Luther
I pray that the more I learn and study theology, the harder I work to translate the truth of God’s word into the language of the people I serve. In the words of JI Packer, my hope is that I would learn to “Feed sheep, not giraffes."