Generally speaking, a church will over time become affected by, influenced toward, and transferred into whatever her preacher is most excited about.

Pastor, our people don’t usually get excited about what we tell them to be excited about. Have you figured that out yet? Instead, they get excited about what they see actually excites us.

This means we ought to steward our exclamation points wisely. If you’re one of those rah-rah guys firing on all emotional cylinders for everything from bake sales and the book table to baptisms and baby dedications, you create an equality between minutiae and missional milestones that can be disorienting, and ultimately dulling. But more directly, just remember that if everything is exciting, nothing is.

Or if the real energy of your gatherings is reserved for knock-out musical productions and cool videos but your teaching is “low-key,” sit-on-a-stool, let’s chat about how to “let God be Lord” over your finances, you are cultivating dysfunctional discipleship. Check out Skye Jethani’s stuff on “experience-driven” worship in The Divine Commodity for some insight on this concept.

But we also have to be careful in our preaching about what we are most naturally reacting with awe to, driving home, and exulting in. If it is the biblical imperatives we communicate that what’s really exciting about God’s Word is the Law. And there is certainly a way to delight in God’s commands! (Note that exclamation point.) But over time, we will impress upon our bodies that the Law is more dazzling than the gospel, and this is fuel for a quick sprint into a brick wall. Let’s save our real enthusiasm for our beautiful Savior, our awe for his finished work, our exclamations for his grace.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Waste Your Exclamation Points”

  1. Dan Buraga says:

    Thanks for this Jared. Reminded me of this quote from Lewis:Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. – C. S. Lewis

  2. Blake Atwood says:

    Good point Jared. As a writer loathe to use exclamation points (and who is nearly visibly pained by the use of multiple exclamation points in emails), the parallel you draw to preaching is spot on. Though using a different metaphor, your post reminds me of a post I read yesterday by Ian Morgan Cron – http://www.iancron.com/2011/11/28/jesus-background-music/

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Jared C. Wilson


Jared C. Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont. You can follow him on Twitter.

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