Have you ever heard the saying by Francis of Assisi “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words” ? I have, but only ever as a miss quote! This is a great saying with a helpful idea behind it, but if we get the idea wrong others will miss out on experiencing God!
Assisi’s idea was (I think) confronting the imbalance that too much evangelism and cross-cultural communication was focused on talking and not enough was actual works of service and compassion.
Let’s remember that was spoken in the 13thcentury!
Assisi was not saying that preaching the Good News should be only actions, he was saying that it is actions AND words. Scripture is full of the command to speak up, say, tell, declare, announce, … the command on the church to go, make disciples, and teach obedience is about both compassionate actions AND audible words, speech with sound, and the distinct unambiguous communication of a verbal message.
In the earliest days of the Church the religious authorities commanded the apostles not to “speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18)… no problem if you wanted to go around just being nice to everyone, just don’t open your mouth and tell anyone about Jesus!!
So the believers prayed to the God who speaks (Acts 4:25), and asked for the ability to speak with great boldness (4:29), AND they asked for the Lord to stretch out his hand to heal and perform miracles (4:30).
Later the apostles heard an Angel of the Lord command them to “Go, stand in the temple courts, and tell the people the full message of this new life.” (Acts 5:20). Go, stand, tell sounds to me like mobility, presence, and speech.
In the 21st Century we have the awesome ability to project our audible voice across hundreds of thousands of kilometers and to millions of listening people at once. Thank God for radio.