The Importance of Explaining Common Terms in Sermons

Don’t assume everyone knows what you’re talking about.

I’ve listened to an enormous number of pastors lately who assume everyone in the audience knows what they’re talking about. Whatever the subject—communion, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Bible, the altar call, whatever—they preach as if the congregation is all up to speed on what it means. But the truth is, there’s a wide range of people in a typical congregation. Some are longtime members, others are new and still others are outsiders or visitors.

The bottom line is this: If you really want to make an impact, go through your notes and look at anything that might be confusing, new or not clear, and take the time to explain. It doesn’t take long, and it will reap enormous rewards for your listeners.

Pastor Jack Hayford was brilliant with this. In fact, I sometimes got annoyed that he would explain everything, but I realized that it was necessary to make sure his audience understood exactly what he was saying. Plus, it never hurt me to hear it again.

Why is the Bible considered authoritative?
Why does communion matter?
Why bread and wine?
Why do we sing at church?
Why does the Bible consist of different books?
Does God still heal today? Why?

The questions are endless, and yet most pastors never think to address them.

Never forget that there are people out there who have little clue about what you’re talking about.

And it won’t hurt the more experienced people to hear it again.

Read more from Phil Cooke »

This article originally appeared on and is reposted here by permission.

From Outreach Magazine  A Bible for Every Language