Is Charades Enough?


Francis of Assisi is often credited for instructing Christians to “Preach the gospel always and if necessary, use words”.

However, as catchy as this saying is, the truth is, no documentary evidence for it exists prior to the early 90s. The closest thing we have to this from earlier times comes from the Franciscan Rule 1221, “No brother should preach contrary to the form and regulations of the holy Church nor unless he has been permitted by his minister . . . All the Friars . . . should preach by their deeds.” As you will note, this saying suggests word and actions working together rather than a strict dichotomy between words and actions.

Following this, I find it helpful to remind myself that 80% of communication is nonverbal … but the 20% that is not is very important too. For without it all we have is charades. And anyone who has played charades would know how awkward it can be to communicate via charades. Hence why I like this saying, “Words without actions are meaningless, but actions without words are confusing.”

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