I just finished a new book on communications by longtime preacher and uber-organizer of Christian meetings, James O. Davis, now president of Second Billion Ministries. Gutenberg to Google, 20 Indispensible Laws of Communication is a lively and interesting discussion of preaching–the calling and craft. From the first page it is clear that Davis is intent on equipping his fellow preachers to avoid a truly dreadful sin: boring the audience.
If you are a preacher or a teacher; or if you just speak publicly (or know or love someone who does), here’s a book you need to pick up. It is a valuable guide with the information of a comprehensive text book, the international sweep of a travelogue, and the personal touch of a biography.
James Davis has titled his new book Gutenberg to Google to illustrate the changes in communication technologies from the mass use of the printing press to the dominance of the computer search engine. He could have call it from Peter to Present or Jerusalem to Jakes or Galatians to Graham or any alliterative reference to the span of time that required good preaching.
This is a book of principles that can be applied to any speech-making , and there are principles here for many disciplines in which people rely on communicating well to be successful.
Davis tells great stories to make his points, and he uses humor where it is helpful. For instance, in bringing to life a particularly bad speaking performance, he writes:
“By the time the presentation ended, I surveyed the crowd and estimated that [of an original crowd of 12,000] perhaps one thousand of us remained. We were scattered so sparsely throughout that great auditorium that a shotgun blast may not have hit two people.”
The pages are full of examples of excellence and the author tastefully decries great speaking blunders. Those of us who have been in the church a long time have heard and seen plenty of both.
For several years I traveled with a great speaker, Chuck Colson, and Chuck applied many of these good principles. He brought them from the political realm, where the consequences of poor speech making are seen at the ballot box. He put them to good effect in bringing many otherwise-resistant people to faith in Christ, and to stab the conscience of many otherwise-comfortable pew sitters.
Clearly James Davis loves good preaching and his enthusiasm for the calling is infectious. He closes with a charge to come to preaching in tune with the Lord and to be clear about your purpose: He writes:
“The best preachers are not “thunder from an empty cloud” but are part of the noblest calling on earth, to draw others into communion with Jesus, the Christ, the Savior of the world.”