If the word "great" were suddenly stricken from the English language, I wonder if we preachers could continue our exhortations ! The word is a good and legitimate one, but is it not quite evident that it is being monotonously overworked? "Wonderful" perhaps runs a close second in the puny repertoire of many preachers' sermonic adjectives.
A builder might struggle through a construction project with only a hammer and a saw, but we would hesitate to call him a carpenter. How much more substantial and attractive his product would be if besides the hammer and the saw his equipment included a miter box, squares, screwdrivers, brace and bits, nail sets, gouges, gauges, chisels, planes, drawknives, etc., along with his blueprints. Even so a minister may "get by" with a few standard descriptive words, but his speech will be commonplace, clumsy, unartistic, and inaccurate, and consequently unarresting and ineffectual. It will be sloppy and shoddy unless it is trued and made accurate by a careful and discriminating selection of synonyms. There is a wealth of beauty and picturesqueness in the language of one who is meticulously selective in the choosing of his descriptive words. I have compiled a list of nouns which occur frequently in the public language of our ministry, and prefaced each with adjectives which seem much more fitting and exact than the hackneyed "great" which is used far too often. There are numerous other adjectives which, if used, would give a delicate fineness to the entire word picture. Perhaps the ones presented below may not be applicable in every usage, but the list will at least suggest a variety of expression.
If we would be interesting preachers, we must be accurate speakers. Accuracy demands an enlargement and expansiveness of vocabulary. Words must make pictures, or congregations will sleep. The attention of an audience can be gained and held if words portray an attractive mental panorama. Well-chosen words can lift thought out of the drabness of commonality, giving it pungency and zest. By this simple expedient, dead and inanimate things can be vivified, and made to move intriguingly before the mind in concise and colorful attractiveness.
To accomplish this, a speaker need not resort to unfamiliar and stilted language. In fact, he should carefully avoid the high-flung, bombastic style. There is a place for "two-bit" words, but they are confusing and superfluous in the desk. Nevertheless, there are thousands of infrequently used, yet understandable words which public speakers might use with most pleasing effect if they would put forth the effort to bring them within the scope of their speaking vocabularies.
God has given to us, that we might convey it to others, a message supreme in its importance, universal in its comprehensiveness, incontrovertible in its evidences, impelling in its power, replete in its consolation, and transcendently glorious in its consummation! Surely the harbingers of such holy and exalted tidings should be possessed of an ardent acquisitiveness in their search for the choicest language facilities, that they might be "enriched by Him, in all utterance."