A Preacher’s Vocabulary

Written by Drew on July 18th, 2007

Have you ever wondered why a dime is minted with ridges along its edges? Maybe the design harkens back to the days when a dime could buy something, and the architects of our currency wanted to give the American people a grip on their money. After all, the sides of all the coins inferior to the dime, namely the nickel and the penny, are smooth as glass. Did one of our forefathers study the coping skills of Americans who habitually lost their money and draw a line between five and ten cents? It’s possible.

Older dimes don’t have the crisp tread of new ones. With use they are worn down until, like the penny, they start to slip through the fingers of newspaper readers and coffee drinkers everywhere.

The same is true of words. When a preacher puts a term into circulation, its initial use grabs the attention of his audience. It is planted in the listener’s mind and grows roots into the memory. The next few times it is used, its effectiveness is lessened only slightly by its familiarity. However, with time, a word can be overused to the point that it becomes worn, and with smooth edges it slips through the hearer’s consciousness.

For this reason, preachers need to work on their vocabulary. Reading is the best teacher of words. There are other ways to grow a vocabulary, but the main thing is to stay interested in they way people speak and write.

Next to Scripture, words are the preacher’s most important tool. If they are not maintained regularly, their dullness can become a handicap.

4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Ike says:

    The process of “milling” the edge of a coin with grooves dates back to the time when coins were minted from actual precious metals. Unscrupulous traders would shave off a tiny bit around the edges of each coin, and could re-compile and sell the shavings as valuable metal.

    A coin with mills, or edges around the outside, was immune from such shenanigans without detection.

    Now that our currency is no longer tied to the value of the material, it’s not worth it to glean a little pile of nickel or tin or copper. (Although it now costs the government 1.4 cents to manufacture a penny…)

  2. Drew Kizer says:

    I had a feeling Ike would put in his “two cents” when I wrote this post. I just thought it would be about the vocabulary side of the article instead of the part about the coins.

    My mid-year resolution is to write about something that he doesn’t already know more about than me.

    Next article: “Dealing with the Problem of Trichotillomania” (If he has to Google it, I win.)

  3. Ike says:

    Oh man! I used to know this one! I’m literally tearing my hair out!

  4. Kevin W. Rhodes says:

    Your point, Drew, is an excellent one. It seems that few preachers today appreciate the value of reading material that provokes thought and growth. “Folksiness” has almost come to be honored as preferred homiletics. I once asked Jim Dobbs, a gospel preacher with the best vocabulary I have ever heard, why he used certain words from the pulpit. He told me that he did so as a matter of regaining attention by provoking people to consider the word as well as to educate them. While my vocabulary does not rival his by any means, I attempt to follow his pattern to the best of my ability.

Leave a Comment