categories:, communication, leadership
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April 28th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

28 comments (+ Add)

Authentic and Transparent Communication

This week I’d like to discuss the value and necessity of authentic and transparent preaching.

Bring You

Every year, I personally mentor a handful of young speakers. Most of the speakers I work with don’t struggle with researching the text, preaching creatively, building meaningful outlines, or pointing people toward the gospel. Most of the communicators I see struggle to bring all of themselves to a message.

When you preach or teach, you must bring you. Without you in, around, and through the message, you will not impact today’s listener.

The younger audience today has a built in authentic-meter. You can preach with passion, humor, clever points, or heart-wrenching stories. But if the scriptures haven’t touched your life, the listener will know it—and ignore your well-crafted message.

People want to know:

  • How has the text affected you?
  • How have you failed in the area(s) the Scripture addresses?
  • What about the text makes you uncomfortable?
  • What do you feel about what scripture is saying? (I know our feelings don’t trump scriptural truth, but talking about how we feel about the text can help engage others to listen at a deeper level.)
  • How are you becoming different because of your study in God’s word?

Jump in!

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there are a total of28
  1. Apr 28, 2008 at 5:58 am

    Dr. Wayne McDill (Southwestern Seminary) once said:

    “So the preacher must plan his preaching for a balance of truth and personality - the Word of God in Scripture and the reality of human agency in the present moment. He must be fully in touch with that Word in its own historical context, understanding its message and trusting its authority. He must also be fully in touch with his own generation, understanding his audience in their need and himself in his own unique personhood.”

    I believe this quote and your post to be SO true.

  2. Apr 28, 2008 at 6:20 am

    I always try to share my “conversation with God with the congregation”. I totally agree with you Craig. People love authenticity and transparency.

  3. Apr 28, 2008 at 6:32 am

    Me and my friend were talking the other night about the different style of churches and he told me the biggest problem he had with sermons was the minute his pastor said something he knew he didn’t believe to be true he mentally checked out. No matter what he said past that it was just sound to him.

  4. Apr 28, 2008 at 6:46 am

    I agree that it’s important to “Do You” and answer the above questions in only a way that you can; instead of trying to be like everyone else around you!

  5. Apr 28, 2008 at 7:25 am

    The younger generation wants transparency. That’s it. Don’t lead them on to believe you have it all figured out.

    Live what you teach and admit you’re not perfect at doing it and above all else, point to Christ.

  6. Apr 28, 2008 at 7:41 am

    I find that many of us have tendency to copy great speakers when we are starting out thinking if we say it like they say it we will get the same result. But what makes so many of them great is their God given personalities. When I was younger I tried to preach like different guys that I admired but never saw any real fruit. Now I use my voice and the people I teach love it. Like Craig said you need to be authentic and talk about how the text is effecting you, I freely admit when the text rubs me the wrong way, or that I still fall short in some areas, and that I am growing into the truth just like them, that we are on this journey together. I used to try and be deep and profound, now I just strive to be honest and real and God is really growing in my gift of communicating.

    I find that using personal illustrations work much better than canned ones, telling stories from your own life and journey carry a lot more weight and let people see me.

    Also listening to yourself or even watching yourself on video will do wonders for you communication skills, you get to see/hear what everyone else is seeing/hearing it can be very humbling and educational as well.

  7. Apr 28, 2008 at 7:52 am

    i totally agree and understand the importance of being me when i speak.

    i guess my struggle lies in the fact that i listen to different pastors who are 1000s of times better than me. why wouldn’t imitating them be better than just being me?

    i am fighting through this. but it is a struggle.

  8. Apr 28, 2008 at 7:56 am


    Yeah … that comment spun us into a whole different conversation.

    Right or wrong though I think there are probably lots of people like him.

  9. Apr 28, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Mike, you bring up a great point. What do you do when you’re in a church like your friend’s?

  10. Apr 28, 2008 at 8:25 am

    Great post. The other thing that goes hand in hand with transparency is trust. As one under another leader I’ve learned that transparency can only happen where there is trust. I’ve seen several on our team be transparent and it’s come back to haunt them. Why? Because the leader sees transparency as a sign of weakness. Maybe he was burned before…who knows. But I do I’ll only be transparent as a leader when I feel safe and unthreatened.

  11. Apr 28, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Two things help me here, but one only with time.

    The first is something that has helped me for a long time - when in doubt, preach to myself. Of course, it’s important to let people know when you’re doing that.

    Second, preach to your own PAST mistakes, challenges, etc. Share how you got it wrong, or learned to get it right, and where God was in the process.

  12. 13Bill G
    Apr 28, 2008 at 8:37 am

    What a great point! I am not a Pastor and don’t speak to large crowds but this topic is very real to me. I have a very good friend that has done some junk in his past that he is struggling with today. I had done the same thing but was keeping it as “my secret” for many years. Having this skeleton in my closet prevented me from being authentic with him and other people that I would speak with. I have since, with the help of Christ and my life group, put all my junk out there for all to see. My God forgave me, my wife forgave me and my friends forgave me and I am now able to be truely authentic with my friend and anyone else that I may need to minister to. The conversation means so much more now that I can be honest and share with him. God is Good!

  13. 14Jim
    Apr 28, 2008 at 8:50 am

    In my speaking recently I shared about how much I really did not like Matthew 20:1-16. I was honest about my struggles with the text and how I came to a point of loving it. I was, truth be told, more authentic and transparent in this lesson than any in a long time. It connected with many who were there.

    Everytime I am honest with the text and the people, God works through me.

    The Bible is a book of authenitic and transparent lives - all of the character flaws are laid out for all to see, why do we try to hid ours?

    Thanks for the post!

  14. Apr 28, 2008 at 9:02 am

    You are 100% correct. I feel that I cheat our community if the scripture hasn’t wrapped me first! They know if you are preaching because it’s Sunday or because God has burdened you with something. For me, good communication is directly linked to my personal study of scripture. If a passage has captivated me, I know that the talk will work because it comes from my heart, not my head or someone else.

    I also try to interject personal stories, struggles, doubts, etc. into my talk. It is a subtle way to let people know that you are human too!

    Craig, just curious…is there anyway you could share what one of your outlines looks like? Maybe make the document available here? I’d love to see how you organize your thoughts. Just wondering…

  15. 16Jim Martin
    Apr 28, 2008 at 9:42 am

    A couple of years ago, I was visiting with a pastor about some of the theology at his church and he told me that sometimes he’ll say things from the pulpit he doesn’t believe so people will go to the Bible and question him.

    I wonder if anyone here has ever done that to “test” his or her flock. It seemed irresponsible to me.

  16. Apr 28, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Here’s a principle I live by & teach those I mentor:

    “Don’t pray for sermons, let sermons come from your prayers”

    This means that prayer must be more than a ’santa claus relationship’ with us doing all the talking, it requires listening and journaling. God speaks it to me and works it through me before I dare speak it to anyone else. This causes me to use the pronoun ‘we’ a lot more than ‘you’ (and subsequently holsters my pointer finger - ha)…

    We’ll have a lot more confidence when we know God has given us the message rather than us coming up with something and then asking Him to bless it.

    Looking forward to the dialog this week. Thanks Craig!

  17. Apr 28, 2008 at 10:30 am

    I’m a youth pastor.

    I’ve never had a student come to me and compliment me for my clever use of analogies, using the right combination of scriptures, or a funny story.

    But I do hear students say “thank you” for opening myself up and reminding them that I am struggling through this with them. It empowers them to start struggling and wrestling with it too.

  18. Apr 28, 2008 at 11:08 am


    Great post. Thanks for sharing your insight. I work with college students and I would say that transparency and authenticity are the most important thing to them in the preaching of God’s Word. If those things aren’t present in the speaker, then they won’t listen to what the speaker has to say.


  19. Apr 28, 2008 at 2:50 pm


    Great post! For years I tried to be like other well-known pastors. Tried to preach like them in everything-length, delivery, etc. It got me what I didn’t want-a fake. If other pastors are like me they suffered from insecurity and inadequacy. I was so low down on myself that I tried to copy. Freedom came when I realized that God wanted me to be me, or should I say His? This came to light for me just yesterday. I am preaching a Confessions of a Pastor series (a take off from your book) and I talked about my struggle with my prayer life. One of the ladies came up to me and said, “I love this series. It is so good to know you are like me.” I took that as a compliment. We have enough sharp people who know inauthenticity when they see it. Now…this week is on purity. Let’s see how many think that afterwards. :)

    Thanks again C for hitting the nail on the head.

  20. Apr 28, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Since I have met (and know to varying degrees) the different guys that teach here at LC, I think I tend to rate thei messages based on this very factor. My favorites tend to be the ones where I can see the person.

    I think this is just as true with worship pastors (even when they don’t talk, you can just sense it). Transparency and openness draws me in to worship more than the perfectly composed set.

    This also reminds me of the thought, it’s hard to lead people where you haven’t been yourself.

  21. Apr 28, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    [...] This post by Craig Groeschel resonated a lot with me.  He lists five transparency questions we should be answering when we teach the Bible.  Man that is the truth.  I find that I am really not very comfortable teaching on a text unless I have wrestled with it myself. And when I have allowed God to work with me through the text, my passion comes out.  When my passion comes out, excitement comes out in my speaking. [...]

  22. Apr 28, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Great Post Craig! I agree completely. Pastors, I beg you please just be the real deal! Craig does this and we appreciate it more than he probably knows! People in general have enough fluff thrown at them every day and they seek authenticity! So just be …who God called you to be!

  23. Apr 29, 2008 at 6:15 am

    There’s this story of a little boy who was sitting next to his mother during a visiting pastor’s sermon one day. The mother wondered why the little boy had such a sad sad look upon his face as the man was preaching. Although the mother really could not get into what he was saying, she thought maybe in some way it was getting through to her little boy. So, as they were leaving, the mother said to her little boy, “Son? Is there any thing about what the preacher said that you would like to talk about?” The little boy looked down at his feet and merely said, “I wish he believed one single word he said.” Out of the mouths of babes. That little boy grew up and become a preacher… Those who know him say that he is one of the most authentic preachers they have ever known or heard. It is not uncommon for him to get emotional as he preaches. It is also common for him to hug little children as they come up to him wanting to know more about Jesus. (His name I am not allowed to share.)

  24. Apr 29, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    I know this post about authenticity and transparency is directed to pastors…I would think that pastors are looking for their congregation/attenders/partners to be authentic, transparent, being the real you in the same sense…for me that is who I want to spend time with; whether my pastor(s), my lifegroup, or my friends at church/work/everywhere I am looking for those who are real…not one who is putting up a facade or bringing his Sunday best… let’s be Christ followers that bring ourselves and are sold out to make Jesus famous…I appreciate these posts as I can take what I learn and hear to become a better husband/dad/employee…thanks for blessing me!

  25. 26Jared B.
    Apr 30, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Great stuff Craig!

  26. May 2, 2008 at 7:37 am

    [...] stjäla, utan också fullständigt meningslöst i det här fallet. Craig, pastor i skriver om att de som lyssnar känner sånt: The younger audience today has a built in authentic-meter. You can preach with passion, humor, [...]

  27. May 2, 2008 at 11:55 am

    [...] Posted on May 2, 2008 by brentonbalvin More from Craig Groeschel… The younger audience today has a built in authentic-meter. You can preach with passion, [...]