Should Good Grammar Be a Ministry Competency?

I confess. I’m a grammar cop. In fact, I am so obsessed with good grammar that my co-workers take great delight in catching my occasional written and spoken mistakes.

Perhaps, then, I’m not the most objective person to pursue this theme. I recently read again a Harvard Business Review article by Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit and Dozuki. The article carried the intriguing title of “I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.” Wiens is serious. He requires every applicant to take a grammar test. Those who do poorly do not get hired. The article was written almost two years ago, yet it is still getting comments today.

As I reviewed the article, I pondered. Should we place more emphasis on correct grammar in vocational ministry? Or is such an exercise focusing on minors to the neglect of those matters that are really important?

Though some obvious exceptions exist, I lean toward a greater emphasis on good grammar in vocational ministry. Here are five reasons why:

  1. We should do all things for the glory of God. Yes, we should even speak and write well for His glory. Most of us in vocational ministry have little excuse not to learn proper grammar.
  2. A significant portion of ministry is communication. Ministers preach. They teach. They write articles. They author blogs. They are in both formal and informal conversations on a regular basis. If we allow for grammatical slippage, how far will we let it go?
  3. Good grammar can provide greater credibility. Maybe it’s not fair, but it’s a reality. The better we speak and write, the more likely people are to listen to our message. And we have the greatest message the world has ever known.
  4. Good grammar is a reflection of a good work ethic. A person who has not learned the difference between “it’s” and “its” after 30 or more years has not worked hard at grammar. If someone has not worked hard at grammar, can that mean he or she has not worked hard in other areas?
  5. Learning good grammar means we take care of the details. The English language is a complicated language. Those who master it are not necessarily the smartest people; but they are people who care about details. Those who care about details in grammar are likely to care about important details in ministry.

I admit I can get picky about sentences ending with prepositions or split infinitives. Those are debated grammatical issues today. But too many people in vocational ministry simply misuse the English language in a much more egregious fashion.

Am I too picky? Do I major on minors with this issue? Are some or all of my points valid? Let me know what you think. This conversation might get interesting.


  1. Richard says

    thom, i think your making an excellent point. Theres nothing I could agree more with. Some people think its ok to always write bad grammar; and they think they can get away with it. Pastor’s especially should be setting a much better example to those they minister to.

  2. Norm Miller says

    Dr. Rainer:
    Of all your blog posts, this one has caused me to comment. Why? Well, I’m a “grammar cop,” too.
    I became one at Criswell College, when in our new student orientation session with then-president, Dr. Paige Patterson. He said in response to a question regarding English classes: “Good grammar never offends the uneducated. Bad grammar always offends the educated. Therefore, always use good grammar.”
    As I have tried to follow Christ in the ensuing years, that maxim not only has guided my writing, speaking and preaching, it also has found application in my spiritual sojourn.

  3. says

    I agree with you point, but we need to adapt anyway. For example, I’m committed to never ending a sentence with a preposition, but at this point, it’s common to do so and most grammar people overlook it. I also sometimes adapt to my local dialect for the sake of being “all things to all people.” Sometimes that local dialect isn’t just slang, but improper conjugation or pronunciation.

  4. Levi LANCOUR says


    Your not off base their. Grammar are important part in society personal life and a good general skill to have.

    (Tongue in cheek of course!)

  5. says

    We choose to widen or limit our sphere of influence by how we deal with issues such as grammar. If we write and speak well, we open the way to a larger audience. If we choose to ignore grammar, spelling, good writing skills, etc., we limit our effectiveness. And, a spell-checker on our computer is not enough. On the whole, the authors of the books of the Bible wrote well and honored the rules of grammar. We should do not less.

  6. Mark Slattery says

    Your not to picky at all 😉 Seriously, though, wish I could proof every piece of written communication that comes from the church office. I’m notoriously picky about the things that are given to me for approval, so I wonder if I’ve overdone it a little.

    • Thom Rainer says

      You’re probably not too picky Mark. The written communication from the church says a lot to those who receive it.

  7. says

    Dr. Rainer, as a worship leader I’ve helped churches I’ve served in spend thousands of dollars on sound systems, often with the justification that “getting the message out” is one of the most important things we do as a church, and also with the goal of “making the message clear and plain.” Doesn’t improving our grammar within that message only make sense, especially as it is a much less expensive but potentially more fruitful investment?

  8. says

    Whether or not we *should* be judged for our command of grammar (or lack thereof), it’s nearly a foregone conclusion that we will be so judged, especially by those who would be our harshest critics. They have enough ammo as it is, real or imagined; we should be careful not to fill their quiver with freebies.

    That said, I still maintain that timely and judicious use of the word “ain’t” should not be frowned upon in polite society.

  9. Jeffrey Parker says

    I have had to teach myself English. I was illiterate when I graduated from High School and entered college. It becomes offensive to me when someone criticizes me openly about my spelling and use of grammar(thank God for spell check). My ministry has been to farmers who are not used to “the Kings English”. I know they are helpful but can be condescending at the same time. I have worked hard to correct and learn but I also know that God has used me in spite of my disability.

  10. says

    In the immediate I find myself inclined to agree with you. But I have two significant reasons to disagree.

    First, the Bible doesn’t say it. The Bible is very clear about the qualifications for ministry. I’ll grant that we have to interpret those things, and I’ll grant there is a difference between competencies and qualifications, but since the Bible doesn’t hold up grammar as a gateway to ministry opportunity, we have to exercise a lot of caution if we are going to do so.

    Second, it excludes many people. I live in a city (Toronto) in which 51% of the people who live here were born in a different country. This means that a significant percentage of the Christians in my city are speaking English as a second or third language. We will significantly lower our pool of ministers, even those who are godly and otherwise effective communicators, if we hold up grammar as too important a competency. If we make grammar a very important competency, Toronto’s churches will look like the city used to be, not the city as it is today.

    So should we want to grow in our grammatical abilities? Absolutely. But should we make it a core competency? I am doubtful. What may work in places where the population is largely homogeneous, simply won’t work as well in Toronto or another place where the population is diverse.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Tim: Perhaps I used poor grammar myself. My use of the word “competency” may indeed imply core competency. Grammar is not a core competency of ministry. You are also right in the other point. Contextualization may trump good grammar.

    • says

      Thank you for this comment. I agree, in principal, with the premise of Thom’s post. In practice, however, it’s not always practical. I have served for the past eight years as a church planter and pastor of churches whose mission is to reach ranchers, farmers, cowboys, cowgirls and country folk with Gospel and create and environment in which they can become disciples.

      I have found that focusing on proper grammar, both spoken and written, can actually become a barrier. I will adopt whatever vernacular and use whatever colloquialisms necessary to communicate the saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that connects with the people that God has called me to reach.

      I believe in the necessity of theological education. That is why, at the age of 46, I have become an M. Div. student at SBTS. I can’t remember where I heard (or read) this, but I think it applies here; “We have to exegete out audience.”

      Tim S.

  11. Mark Dance says

    This is a very practical subject Dr Rainer! Scripture does not shy away from the importance of communication – written or oral: “My tongue is the pen of a skillful writer…grace flows from your lips” (Psalm 45:1-2 HCSB). Our words will either complement His Word or become a distraction to it.

    I dare my pastor friends to submit yesterday’s sermon to an English teacher. I will do it, and I’m from Arkansas! I look forward to the opportunity to develop the gift God gave me. Equippers need to also be equipped. Who else will take that challenge?

      • Mike Chitwood says

        Thank you I would appreciate it. I would write a lot more on my blog but I am very self-conscious about my grammar habits so I look forward to the post.

      • Tom Dicus says

        I was thinking the same thing. How can we improve? I write and publish (online) a daily devotional. I have been doing this for several years. I want it to have proper grammer.

  12. Randy Mann says

    This is an important post for many seminary students. Having served as a grader while in seminary, and having spoken in DMin seminars since, I have heard too many times, “I don’t want to be an English major/professor. I just want to be a pastor/preacher.” Those pursuing a Master or Doctor-level degree should, at minimum, be in agreement with the points you have outlined above, both in theory and practice. While this may not be a first-order issue, it certainly is an important one. Thank you for challenging us on this. May we all seek to grow in this area, to the glory of God.

  13. Chris Gilliam says

    Just a thought, if I were the math cop on preachers (stats to estimations) would the results be more shattering? I confess, I am terrible at grammar and have my work proofed the majority of the time. I suggest, it is not because I’m lazy or stupid or….rather having set under English professors who were Harvard Educated and others who were not, not to mention my wife is a suma-cum-laud English graduate, I discovered the wonderful subjectivity of the rules, the exceptions and the application of such. I also learned many with strong linguistic skill were poor in math (the discipline to which I excelled). I am glad to have two self professed gammer NAZI’s on my staff to assist my weakness and they are glad I can mat sure the math works….

  14. says

    Words and their relationships give meaning to language. Improper grammatical construction may well distort the accuracy of the message. Three cheers for this article. You are not picky -just precise!

  15. David Frost says

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Writing with proper grammar is easier than speaking with proper grammar, especially when you are in the moment. It is something that needs our attention. Becoming more aware of what we are saying will help improve our verbal communication. Even though I hate to hear myself speak, I listen to some of my sermons in order to pick up on my mistakes and identify where I need to improve.

  16. Karen Johnson says

    I find that people are more forgiving of spoken grammar mistakes than written. When I worked on staff at a major metropolitan church sometimes the graphics department would be in too much of a hurry to ask that another set of eyes edit the material, even though we had a writer and former editor from a major US newspaper on staff. There is no excuse for copy to go to press without thorough review. That being said, hate the sin – love the sinner! 😉

  17. says

    Thom, I agree with you, with one small caveat. You remember the old saying, “I’d rather hear someone say, ‘I seen it’, when he really saw something, than to hear someone say, ‘I saw it’, when he ain’t seen anything.” Content is the important element, but the effectiveness of content need not suffer because of poor grammar. Thanks for the little push.

  18. Jeremiah Marshall says

    Dr. Rainer,

    I agree with some and disagree with others.

    1.We should do all things for the glory of God. Yes, we should even speak and write well for His glory. Most of us in vocational ministry have little excuse not to learn proper grammar.

    **If “all” things for the glory of God includes speaking and writing well then should we include singing? I’m not sure if we should limit “all things” to a selective pet peeves instead of keeping it inclusive as it was intended.

    2.A significant portion of ministry is communication. Ministers preach. They teach. They write articles. They author blogs. They are in both formal and informal conversations on a regular basis. If we allow for grammatical slippage, how far will we let it go?

    **Agree. Poor communication could be a major distraction depending on your audience. It is important to understand your environment.

    3.Good grammar can provide greater credibility. Maybe it’s not fair, but it’s a reality. The better we speak and write, the more likely people are to listen to our message. And we have the greatest message the world has ever known.

    **Agree. Once again, bad grammer creates a layer of distraction to a people that do not know about Christ.

    4.Good grammar is a reflection of a good work ethic. A person who has not learned the difference between “it’s” and “its” after 30 or more years has not worked hard at grammar. If someone has not worked hard at grammar, can that mean he or she has not worked hard in other areas?

    **I disagree. I know some people that are great with grammer and have poor work ethic. Your work ethic reflects a good or poor work ethic.

    5.Learning good grammar means we take care of the details. The English language is a complicated language. Those who master it are not necessarily the smartest people; but they are people who care about details. Those who care about details in grammar are likely to care about important details in ministry.

    **Disagree. People show interest in the details of those things they are interested in. A person with good grammer may care for the details of a document but cannot find the church broom in the supply closet. A person skilled with math can spot discrepancies in financial records but cannot find “Waldo” in a picture.

    This is just my opinion. I hope to not offend anyone.

    • Thom Rainer says

      No offense at all Jeremiah. I welcome differing viewpoints, especially when they are written with an irenic spirit like yours. And you do offer some very good perspectives.

  19. bryan eason says

    Lately I have been reading much on growing a church and reaching people. I have learned what it takes to lead people to Jesus. Excellent quality bands + good church buildings + good greeters + excellent workers + perfectly spoken sermons + excellent websites + excellent blogs + excellent dress + excellent grammar + excellent bathrooms and nursery = great church that does good and leads people to Jesus.. This country boy, that gave his life to Christ, and was saved out of drugs and alcohol and now serving in a church is understanding why he cannot be used. Maybe I should just throw in the towel. My 60 yr old church is located in a town with a bunch of junk yards. Most of my people are just blue collar workers. I speak in a country dialect and often use improper grammar, and all I have is a tremendous love for people, and a heart to tell them about Jesus. It seems to me it takes more human effort to lead people to Christ than prayer and love and the gospel and the power of God. Maybe I am praying for the wrong things. Just confusd with all this.

    • says


      NO! Please read my comment below.

      Did God use Peter? Moses? God doesn’t use perfect people. He uses broken ones. Willing ones.

      People would rather know if you care about them than what grammar you use.

      The devil wants to discourage ministers and keep them from doing their work by the very kind of frustrations you just mentioned.

      My husband and I minister in a small country church, too. EVERY person in the world deserves a pastor who cares about them. All the other stuff is secondary.

      If God can speak through a jackass (Balaam) He can speak through anyone–good grammar or not.

      Grammar is so irrelevant.

      It’s Grace and Jesus that are most important.

      Stay available. And God will use you in ways you’ve never imagined.

      • says


        What about honoring God. Do you not believe that taking the time to properly pronounce the words He wrote?

        Moreover, the words spoken by Balaam’s ass (Not jackass) were grammatically correct.

        If a pastor thinks that Satan is opposing him through grammar, then possibly he will become defeated by more important issues.

        And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
        (Colossians 3:23)

        Spending time properly constructing the messages God has given to me is something I do heartily…as to the Lord.

    • says

      I agree with your comments. There seems to be a disconnect (possibly even a lack of understanding) between those who serve in urban/suburban, large church context and those who serve in a rural, small church context.

      I have served for the eight years as a church planter and pastor of churches whose mission is to reach ranchers, farmers, cowboys, cowgirls and country folk. Good grammar won’t get you very far with these folks.

      Stay real. Walk in the Spirit. If God called you, He will use you.


  20. says

    I heard a long time ago that there’s such a thing as a “Conversational Filter”, meaning anything aside from the spoken word that can divert attention from what’s being said. A think accent, swear words, a speech impediment, unusual beards & mustaches, scars, things of that sort.

    Even outlandish attire .. think Herb Tarlek from WKRP in Cincinnati.

    Anyway, if a pastor uses poor grammar, there are going to be people who think about that while he’s speaking, and no focusing on the message. It’s not so bad in writing, because you can go back and re-read. But there’s no instant replay button in a spoken sermon.

  21. Larry Elrod says

    Thom (or Henry Higgins), I believe good grammar is a great blessing to all who use it and to all who hear or read it. When children were still being taught to read using the Bible they were being taught some of the best grammar every recorded. There is poetry, prose, and vocabulary to improve anyone’s ability to communicate and express themselves. Few people realize how much the Bible improved our lives before schools decided some other curriculum was more advantageous, I personally think that the lack of grammatical skills and/or the lack of desire to practice good grammar is one reason many people shy away from reading Scripture.

  22. Beau Hart says

    What a great post. I am not perfect, but try hard to speak and write well. I have several teacher’s in my congregation who lovingly let me know when I have made a mistake, and I thank God for them.

    Nothing turns me off more than finding grammatical errors in a book. I usually can’t even finish it if it has too many. Great post, thanks for the reminder to speak well for God!

    As a new minister, I am greatly encoraged by your posts. Thank you and God bless!

  23. says

    It depends on the demographic a minister is ministering to.

    What kind of grammar do you suppose Peter used?

    He was an unlearned man. He didn’t have the benefit of an education.

    My husband, a fine minister and anointed, caring pastor, was reared by parents with eighth grade educations in the south. He has dyslexia and other learning disabilities and his grammar is a weakness for him. He gets his tenses wrong a lot of times. And yes, he has a degree in theology. It was a struggle for him to get it but he did it.

    Does this make him a bad minister? Absolutely not. Who did God call him to minister to? Those whom other parts of society have rejected. He pastors a rural church and those who attend are many who are illiterate and uneducated. Many have cognitive disabilities.

    I’m a professional writer and I am tired of grammatical snobbery. There’s more value to a person than the way they speak or write.

    I love hearing the way people from other walks of life speak. It says so much about their background, their ethnicity, their education. I learn a lot by listening to their unique turns of phrase. I’m fascinated by it.

    If you’re ministering to say, a congregation of thousands in an upper-crust well-educated part of the country, then yes, grammar probably needs to be tested. But if you’re called to rural areas with those who’ve never had the opportunity to further their education past 8th grade or 12th grade, then God can use you there, too, no matter your grammar. There are other more important things to focus on such as having compassion, the ability to comfort, the grace to minister in hard places.

    “If I speak with the tongues of men and angels and have not love I am nothing.” (1 Cor. 13)

    If God can speak through a jackass (Balaam) then He can speak through someone who has less than perfect grammar.

    Last I heard, God didn’t only call the qualified, but the willing.

    Never, ever look down on yourself for less than perfect grammar. That’s a lie from the devil.

    Remember Moses? God was upset when Moses wouldn’t go without Aaron. Moses was God’s first choice.

    Grammar snobs will do well to remember examples in the Bible and see people through the Lord’s eyes and His alone.

    It’s by HIS GRACE we minister and are called in the first place.

    • says

      Thank you for this comment. You have stated my sentiments. I serve as a full-time pastor in a church of ranchers, farmers, cowboys, cowgirls, and just good-old, down-to-earth, country folk. In the context of my ministry, if I place too much emphasis on spoken or written grammar it actually becomes a stumbling block.


      • says


        What I should have added in my comments was that God will anoint whom He chooses. It’s the Holy Spirit that draws folks. And if people experience the power and love of God, grammar won’t be an issue. I admit being a tad sensitive to this issue because as a writer, I weary of hearing other writers put down people who don’t write well or use bad grammar. It’s a snobbery I can’t stomach.

        Snobbery of any kind is simply wrong. Whether it’s paying attention to what someone wears or how someone speaks. It pigeon-holes people in a way that Jesus certainly never did.

        I have to wonder what dialect Peter used when he preached his first sermon. And wasn’t it the Holy Spirit that anointed him to preach in such a way that thousands gave their life to Christ?

        It’s the Holy Spirit that draws people and if they are hung up on grammar, then the focus isn’t in the right place.

        I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do our best to study and be the very best we can be. But there’s a time and place for perfect grammar. If my husband preached with big words and flowery syntax, the message wouldn’t be understood by the congregation that He’s been called to.

        Jesus taught in accessible language. I think what we need to be concerned with is using language suitable for the situation and the people we are working with.

        But we must never, ever, take for granted that beautiful, precious, powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit.

        John 6:44
        1 Corinthians 9:19-23

  24. Nancy says

    I agree with you! Years ago at a church we served in a very upscale educated community, our newsletter was written by a tremendously enthusiastic, sweet, wonderful lady that had great challenges with grammar. While most of our people were able to overlook the mistakes, some were not. One person actually red pencil circled all her mistakes and left it on her desk to find the next morning. This wounded her terribly.

    The point, though, is that I think sometimes our mistakes cause roadblocks to the message and can actually hinder communication of the Good News! No person is perfect, but we should all strive to do our best “as if unto The Lord!”

    • says

      Shame on them for correcting her grammar. If they didn’t like the way the newsletter was written, they should have volunteered to do it themselves. That was not a loving thing to do. It bordered on bullying in my book.

      We’re to walk in grace toward one another. Preferring the other above ourselves. I’m very sad for her but more sad for those with the self-righteous attitude to do what they did. It was not their place. It was her supervisor’s.

      If they truly had issue with it, they should have gone to an authority and voiced their concerns. That was passive-aggressive and not at all in line with scripture.

  25. says

    English grammar is easy. Theology is more nuanced. So are ethics and philosophy. Grace will allow a pastor without an education to lead people to Christ. On the other hand, I will be reluctant to hire a person to any position who claims to have a high school diploma but cannot communicate well in their native tongue.

  26. bryan eason says

    “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,” – apostle Paul.
    To the corinthians.

    Again, when does it get to the point that we focus on more of man’s efforts than God’s power.

  27. Jerry Schoenenberger says

    As a bivocational pastor who grew up on a ranch, and ranched for a living as I pastored a church full of agricultural people, I agree totally that good grammar matters. Just because we work the land doesn’t mean we’re illiterate.

  28. Mark Dance says

    I agree with the sentiments about right sizing the importance of grammar (including Dr Rainer’s follow-up comments that grammer is “not a first issue or core competency”).

    Although grammer is not nearly as important as love, truth and the work of the Holy Spirit, if I can develop the gift God that gave to me, I will. I really look forward to Dr Rainer’s follow up blog on ways to improve my preaching.

    “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.” (Colossians 3:23 HCSB)

  29. Jim says

    It seems to me that the competency is not grammar. The competency is care. If you are being careless with grammar in your presentation of the gospel, you are being careless with the gospel. It is not a matter of achieving a certain level of proficiency in grammar. It is a matter of doing the best you can.

    I have heard people quote the Bible as I had never heard it quoted before. There were no articles (a, an, the) in their recitation at all. It wasn’t proper grammar, but it was their best grammar. Their native language contains no articles.

    The purpose of grammar is clarity. We should always be as clear in our communication as we possibly can be. But, we need to remember that grammar is a tool, not an end.

  30. Greg Demme says


    I agree with those who say that, although it’s not a first-order competency for ministry, it’s often highly important, though in certain contexts it can actually be a hindrance.

    The only thing I would specifically add is that a minister needs to have the humility (certainly a first-order quality!) not to look down on those he ministers to if they have poor grammar. I’m not speaking about who the senior pastor chooses to hire on his staff or to teach adult Sunday School. I’m only saying it would be good to keep humility as a concrete part of the conversation – continue to love and minister to those in the flock whose grammar is not as good, without looking down on them.

  31. says

    I appreciate your thoughts Thom. I too have an interest in how things are communicated, not just what is communicate, though the two have an unusual relationship.

    I’m an Australian. You, an American. We both speak english, yet we will easily miscommunicate through the subtle differences of our speech, even if we both communicate using ‘correct’ grammar.

    My point is this: Communication is never one-sided; it takes purposefully transmission and intentioned reception. The trick is matching the two. If by using correct grammar I ‘tear down’ barriers to the Gospel, or if indeed I build them, needs to be the careful consideration of the (in this case) Pastor / Preacher.

    So though I love correct grammar, if the cause of Christ can be advanced through double negatives… then I ain’t never gunna stop doing that!

    • says

      Marty, that’s a great point. But remember, the disciples didn’t have the benefit of that, either. God can speak through uneducated people, too.

      I would love it if all pastor’s were this well educated, but some don’t have the benefit of such an education. And God still calls them and uses them.

      And thank God for dictionaries and concordances and commentaries! We need people like you to write them!

  32. Jeffrey Parker says

    Should our focus be just on grammar or how to communicate our message to the people we present the gospel to. Most Americans choice not to read and the message, no matter how refined it is, is not being heard. I have learned about the use of story telling and how it is being used on the foreign mission field and here in America. No matter how we tell the story of Jesus, we need to share it so the people can listen and relate. The Holy Spirit can take any offering and use it to his glory. I remember when David Ring started in the ministry and the doubts we had about his ability to present the gospel. He has a world wide ministry that has reached more than I will be able to reach.

  33. Joni Hannigan says

    Dr. Rainer,

    As a believer in life-long learning, I think those in vocational ministry should always strive to improve their communication skills. As for whether good grammar should be a “competency” for ministry, I am not sure ministry benefits from being compared to the approach the CEO of a business takes with new hires.

    God calls and God equips, so says the Good book. Perhaps we don’t always understand how this is done — and this supernatural act may appear to be mysterious or inadequate to us, but it is what it is.

    That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do all that we can to equip and prepare those for ministry whom God has called. For instance, in 1996 Mark Coppenger, then president at Midwestern Seminary, asked me to develop a grammar and writing test for new seminary students. I based the grammar test on grade 12 materials and asked students to write a 3-part essay describing their call to ministry. Simple enough, and yet each year 12-15 students, all with college degrees, did not pass the test and were routed to one or both classes in basic grammar and basic writing.

    In addition to more ably complete their seminary courses, students were better communicators as a result of the courses.

    Throughout the years I have also encountered great men and women of God who are from ethnically diverse backgrounds and struggle with English grammar. These men and women bring immense blessings to the Kingdom. It has been my pleasure to be sensitive in writing about and with them and to ensure that their stories are told in a way that grammar is correct, and yet culture is communicated.

    Grammar matters, but like many who have answered have indicated, decision-makers need to be culturally and ethnically sensitive and insure they do not intentionally send the message that grammar is more important than the Holy Spirit.

    Many blessings,

    Joni Hannigan

  34. Jessica Shaugnessy says

    I feel like rhetoric should be a ministry competency and this is full of fallacies. Please never preach this to young people because you will crush about 17% of them with your terribly hurtful character judgements.

  35. Dino Senesi says

    Thank you for the important reminder Dr. Rainer. The message and the messenger matters. For me this has been a life long journey, but I made a discovery early in my ministry. People who don’t care about my grammar will never notice when I use correct grammar. But people who do care will notice when I use bad grammar. So, the best practice is to care and always look for ways to improve my communication. Then, everybody wins.

  36. Stacey says

    I love this article! It’s so true! I tell my children all the time that it doesn’t matter how smart they are or how passionate they are about anything if they can’t communicate clearly and effectively! Jesus was no slouch in this department and we shouldn’t be either!

  37. Lewis says

    Sloth, carelessness and lack of commitment can all be the root of poor grammar. These have no place in ministry. Grammar can also be a product of background, culture and the availability of training (or lack thereof).
    I understand that the quality of New Testament grammar is very uneven.
    My take is this; each of us should do the best we can to communicate the Good News as clearly as we know how. However, as Bonhoeffer said, each one of us will be judged on the truth embedded in the poorest true sermon we ever heard.

  38. John says

    Thank you all for your valuable comments. I, along with all the pastors from the ethnic church, will resign from our positions because we learned English late in life and cannot master the language perfectly like you all do. And I will return to my country and asked all the foreign missionaries to leave because they cannot master my mother tongues to perfection.

    Thank you all for your fine insight.

    • says

      Amen John!
      But you should not have let your anger rule your post. I too was a bit upset that no one realizes the gap in our language through the generations. It’s huge! I also let myself feel inferior for a moment because I don’t understand half the jokes or the rules about grammar offending everyone. I’ve been born and raised in this country…… I’m as American as they come. I write everyday for others to enjoy my walk with Christ. Not for fame…. Glory… Or to feel better than anyone else. I don’t do it for myself at all. I do it for HIM. ONLY HIM. The people that I am led to usually have grammar worse than mine. What we need to focus on is our audience. And deliver what they understand as a whole. Where was God in most of these replies?? I saw me me me…. and so did HE. HE wants us to reach the MASSES…. NATIONS…. THE WORLD….. but we are so busy feeling good about ourselves and worrying how other people speak and write…… RIDICULOUS. I’m with you, John…. My brother in Christ. And anyone truly a friend of God would agree with me. God is the point!! The masses are the mission!! Since actually giving myself to Christ I only worry about what HE wants….. From me. To think I might not share the glory of God our Father with someone and possibly change their life because of their grammar offends me is appalling to think about. I wouldn’t want to answer for that one day. To be too proud to get over yourself to bring glory to God? Wow.. Unthinkable! I walk in HIS light every day. HE loves me. HIS blessings overwhelm me to the point of tears every week. When I gave up my self for HIS self I realized what I think… how I feel and what I want just don’t matter. In the last few months God has taken my men’s group and turned it into a full blown ministry. We have reached and helped hundreds in just the last 3 months. Can you guess how? Not with good grammer that’s for sure. We did this by putting our faith and trust in God. He can do the same for anyone reading this. You just have to ask him. Judge my grammer here if you must, but you would be missing what God wants you to know…. And isn’t that what it’s really about? Check out AgapeEarth Ministries on Facebook. Come help keep us accountable to Christ and not each other. Amen

  39. Dave Wollenberg says

    Brother Thom. I love our senior pastor, dearly. I cringe, though, when he uses the word ‘I’ incorrectly. For example, when he says, ‘Jesus ministers to you and I’, the proper way to end that sentence is, ‘you and me.’ Think about it, Take away the words ‘you and’. Then, you’re left with, ‘Jesus ministers to I’. You can see how very wrong that is.

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