Language Of Gifts

When you’re trying to describe how things work, and you want the ears of your audience attentive, their hearts longing to hear the next word with joy that you have to offer, you often run into a problem.

If the thing you have to explain is new – and if it isn’t new, why are you explaining it? – then finding familiar language becomes a subtle problem. If your language is as strange and different as the newness, then your audience is going to think your message does not matter to their lives. If your language is too approachable, then they’re going to think you have nothing new to offer.

Consider this:

There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.

– 1 Corinthians 12:3-7

That’s a very traditional way to explain things. On the other hand, consider something like this:

Everyone has their place on the team. Find your position and play it well. Be where your team mates expect you to be and do the things they expect you to do.

If you’re trying to reach a very church focused audience, they’re going to hear the first one as relevant to their lives. They’re not going to hear the second as relevant to their core – unless they’re really big into playing sports.

A very unchurched audience is going to hear the first one as exceedingly foreign and strange in a repulsive way. If they get the sports analogy, they may pick up on the second.

But here’s the interesting bit.

They say the same thing.

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