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I've largely stopped using pre-written notes. If someone is going to "get" something from my sermon, I now want them to have to work for it—at least a little.

We can all agree that Jesus was a brilliant communicator, but when we study his methods, it is obvious that the comfort of his audience was not a significant consideration. In fact, Jesus taught in a manner that challenged (sometimes baffled) his listeners. He expected them to work in order to understand his teaching. He asked them questions, wrapped his teaching in opaque parables, and often taught in distracting settings.

Jesus was anything but clear, simple, and easy to listen to. Even now, when we engage his teaching in the Gospels, it requires effort—and a large dose of grace—to understand his words. He doesn't give us three-point alliterated sermons, and neither do his apostles.

I'm certainly not opposed to clear communication, but our cultural drive for comfort and accessibility may have unintended side-effects. People, like pilots, do not thrive by being under challenged, but by turning off the auto pilot.

Skye Jethani is executive editor of Leadership Journal.

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Skye Jethani is the executive editor of Leadership Journal, an ordained pastor, and the author of numerous books. He co-hosts the weekly Phil Vischer Podcast and speaks regularly at churches, conferences, and colleges. He makes his home with his wife and three children in Wheaton, Illinois.

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From Issue:, September Web Exclusives 2014 | Posted: September 1, 2014

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