15,000 words a day. That’s what we speak, so I’m told. Which means 100,000 words a week, and well over 3 million words a month. There’s no getting away from it – that’s an awful lot of words.
And, while we are doing a little maths, that means one of my average sermons is just 2% of my total weekly quota of words.
Now I could be kidding myself, but I hope that 2% contains some of my best words. They certainly get the most work. Nothing else I say gets nearly so much attention. But however uniquely important the preached word may be, the other 98% must deserve some consideration.
Especially when we remember that alarming verse in Ephesians 4. The one that tells us not to ‘let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.’ (Ephesians 4:29, my emphasis). That is quite an ambition – to speak only what is helpful for building others up; only that which will benefit those who listen.
But let’s suppose we did grow in godly speech. Let’s suppose a growing proportion of our words achieved the purpose Paul describes in that verse. And suppose it wasn’t just us. Suppose it was a whole church thing.
Let’s do a little more maths.
If your church has 100 members then your church speaks 10 million words a week. Imagine more and more of those 10 million words becoming building-up words, and benefit-those-who-listen words. How good would that be?
There are many ways to describe what we mean by biblical counselling in the local church. But this will do nicely: biblical counselling means raising the quality of the words that we speak to one another. It means we have fuller, richer, wiser ways of encouraging one another, rebuking one another, warning one another, comforting one another, loving one another. It means knowing how to make our words count for good.
In March 2017 our residential conference will set out a vision for biblical counselling in the local church. It won’t provide a system or teach a technique. It won’t undermine preaching or the authority of the Bible. It won’t create an expert elite or encourage people to tackle problems which are beyond them.
It will help us think about creating a culture of wise words. A culture that believes words matter – all of them.
Do consider joining us. We are looking forward to welcoming pastors, leaders, elders, small group leaders, pastoral care team members – in fact anyone and everyone who has a heart to help grow our churches by using their words well.
Biblical Counselling in the Local Church
Foundations: 27 & 28 March | Topics & Skills: 28-30 March 2017
The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire