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The Power of Mere Words

Preaching may appear to be "just talk," but don't underestimate its impact.

When I was in graduate school at Emory, a fellow student developed a questionnaire to measure his congregation's racial attitudes. He passed out a survey and recorded the results. Then he preached a series of five sermons that in some way touched on the race issue.

After his sermon series, he surveyed their responses—they were three points more racist than before!

At times you wonder if preached words have any potency. At times, getting up to preach is like trying to put out a thousand-acre forest fire with a garden hose. What could I possibly say to a mother who just lost her newborn to SIDS, to the couple that can't get pregnant, to the woman whose husband beats her regularly, to the chronically unemployed father of five?

Furthermore, how can one person standing alone and speaking from an ancient book possibly impact this word-saturated, image-driven society? It seems impossible.

Yet according to Scripture, this is our chief weapon: words. So over the years, I've given this paradox ...

From Issue:Winter 2000: Wordcasting
May/June
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