Francis was a preacher. He believed that words were necessary and often used them. However, the communication of the Christian message – of Christian words – is not to be limited to preachers. Every Christian, regardless of their particular gifting, is called by God to share the Gospel in words. Even the Episcopal Church, which today is seldom associated with excellence in preaching or evangelism recognizes this in her official liturgy. One of the promises that every Episcopalian makes at their own baptism is this: “Celebrant: Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ? – People: I will, with God’s help.” This vow including the others in the Baptismal Covenant, are renewed by Episcopal Christians several times over the course of their lives (often multiple times a year).
Words and deeds complement one another. A Christian life must contain both. It is true that some are gifted or blessed with special skill in communication, especially spiritual communication, but our lack of gifting or training does not remove the responsibility we have as men and women of God to use words when necessary. Those of us with special gifts or a particular ministry which involves the use of words will be held by God to a greater standard than the average believer (James 3:1), but all Christians are called to use them.
One question remains, exactly when or where, are words necessary?