Before you preach one more sermon, stop and ask yourself these three questions.
A few weeks ago, my daughter called to update me on her field trip to the nature center with my grandson Cash. When I answered the phone, her voice was shaky. Here is how the conversation went:
My daughter: “Cash committed a murder today! We were in the butterfly exhibit and I took my eyes off him for like 30 seconds. When I found him crawling out from behind the trees, I could see he was carrying something. When I asked him to show me, he unfolded his cupped hands and – MOM – pieces of a dead, mangled, yellow butterfly fell to the floor!”
Me: “Oh no! What did you do?”
My daughter: “We hauled our heinie to the next exhibit as fast as possible! When the coast was clear, I told Cash; ‘Hey buddy. You can’t hold the butterflies. You can hurt them. They are soft and fragile. Ok?’ Mom, it was so sad. He looked up at me and said, ‘I just hold it a little bit. I just look at it. Teeny Tiny. So soft.’”
I empathized with both sides.
- The murderer: How sad that this little nature lover accidentally killed something he adored. In his passionate zeal, he came on too strong. He didn’t realize his own power and it had irreversible, devastating consequences.
- The victim: How sad that this butterfly had his life violently and unexpectedly crushed. I’m sure he thought he was in a safe place. I mean, is there any place safer for a butterfly than in the protected butterfly habitat at the nature center?
The story represented something else to me. It’s really not that big of leap, if you think about it. Church communicators can be murderers. Our message is the victim.
Here are three questions to ask ourselves so that we won’t kill the gospel message in our zeal …