Lives are changed through mere words — maybe that's the only way we ever change.
— William Willimon
When I was in graduate school at Emory, a fellow student developed a questionnaire for his congregation to measure their 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!
I was surprised back then but not today. On many days since, I've wondered if my words were impotent. Getting up to preach was like trying to put out a thousand-acre forest fire with a garden hose. How could my words possibly make a difference to a mother who just lost her newborn to sids, to the wife who can't get pregnant, to the woman whose husband beats her regularly, to the chronically unemployed husband and father of five?
Furthermore, how can one person standing alone and speaking from an ancient book possibly impact ...1