I am challenging us to write! A sermon or Bible lesson is a powerful thing.
The challenges in spoken communication
* Spoken words have little staying power – we remember little of what we hear and take action on less.
* Public speaking does not travel well – even with access to You-tube, Periscope and Face-book Live.
Lest you think I’m down on preaching, let me explain the challenge. The influence of an anointed preacher often lasts as long as he or she speaks. Few listeners take action within 72 hours. Even for the greatest speakers – men who captivated large audiences – what was said is left behind by loss of memory, technology and the changing voices of time.
Charles Spurgeon had several contemporaries who were as popular in the pulpit as him; today those men are relatively unknown. Their work, research and presentation is forgotten. Today, Spurgeon remains an influence because Spurgeon’s material is in print.
In my lifetime, great preachers and pastors have come and gone. The late George Glass Sr. was called “The Prince of Preachers.” He preached over 50 camp-meetings and was a communicator extraordinaire. I’ve over 100 cassettes of his sermons. Every message was masterful. Yet, for my son, a church planter in Atlanta also interested in effective preaching, George Glass’s influence is minimal. To my knowledge, fewer than a dozen of George Glass’s sermons are in print. What a loss of impact and beneficial influence.
Some suggest transferring such cassettes to digital sound. Transferring cassette to digital is challenged by:
* The quality of the original recordings,
* The age of the tape
* The time it takes to make the transfer.
As a result of these challenges and a lack of writing, much of the excellent research and preaching material of people like G. T. Haywood, Bishop J. Johnson, N.A. Urshan, J.T. Pugh, Paul Price, C. M. Becton, C. R. Free, Stanley Chambers, James Lumpkin Sr., O.C. Crabtree, Jesse Williams, G.A. Mangun, John and Nilah Mean and Jack Yonts is forever gone. A wealth of teaching and sermon material is not in print.
Consider this, it is rare for the influence of the spoken word to last ten years beyond the life of the speaker; the written word lasts much longer. Decades after the death of Ralph Reynolds, who I never met, his teaching material is used all over the world and I regularly recommend his book, If the Sheep Could Speak. J.T. Pugh wrote several books late in life. J.T. Pugh’s impact will linger much longer as a result of those books. E.L. and Nona Freeman’s missionary adventures live on because of her writing beginning with Beloved Wide Spot.
A final glaring example of the power of the pen is seen in the increased influence that flowed to Dr. David K. Bernard as a result of his writing and writing and writing. Today, he is General Superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church, at least in part, as a result of the influence gained from his capable and quality writing.
My conclusion – to my elders, contemporaries and the arriving generation – where you do not write – your impact will not remain. If you want your influence to extend beyond your local church or a few events at which you speak, or an office you hold – write! Write now!
Warning! If you do not write, what you have said and/or thought will die with you. By contrast, what you write has a life for decades and centuries to come. It will be sad if the impacting content from Michael Williams, the passion of Anthony Mangun and Wayne Huntley; the research of Clifford Readout and Rodney Shaw; the scholarship of Donald K. Bryant and Michael Gurley; the practical leadership lessons of Art Hodges, Roy Barnhill and Granville McKenzie; and the biographies of Murrel Cornwell, Alonzo Terry, Scott Sistrunk and Raul Orozco along with a myriad of others is also buried. Write brothers and sisters write!
Write for blog posts!
Write for publication!
Over the next while, I will come back to this topic with posts that will offer practical insight on writing, editing, book design, printing and marketing. It has never been easier to write, edit, publish and market your material. My posts will include the following.
1. Write – use content you develop in multiple ways!
2. Re-write – The making of the book.
3. What quality writing looks like.
4. Empower an editor.
5. Cover design.
6. Printing your material.
8. Marketing your material.
9. Write another book, then another and another. Writing gets better and easier with practice.