Believe it or not, that’s the title of an infamous book, which describes all the insider knowledge of relationships. At the risk of disappointing some of you, this post is not a detailed critique of a book which lists, among its female roles, “eating pickles”; and which has a chapter titled “Don’t marry your best friend unless you’re gay”. What I want to focus on, is that the authors went to the lengths of coining the word “marriable”. A ridiculous word, but why?


Because it suggests two things: firstly, that some people just cannot be married regardless of whether they might want to; and secondly, that once people have applied all the recommendations coming from the  book, there’s nothing more they can do; and everything that fails to happen is somebody else’s fault.

Let’s face it: the target population of Marriable (which is, incredibly, a serious book) is people who don’t wish to become marriable. They wish to become married.

It’s easy enough to notice it in such a ridiculous example; but anyone in a position of leadership is guilty of the same sin. How many of these words have you used recently?

  • understandable
  • transferable
  • applicable
  • usable
  • likeable
  • accessible

And I’m sure there’s many more. If you write your sermon so that it is understandable, or applicable, you’re stopping shy of your real aim. Rather, you should write it so that it is understood, and so that it is applied. Otherwise, you will find it easy to write independently of your congregation; and when no change happens after you have preached, the cop-out of “they just weren’t listening” is far, far too easy.

Be bold, and plan boldly.

To you who don’t think you are in a position of leadership, you’re not off the hook. Firstly, you are wrong: you are in a position of leadership, to some of your friends at least; but you may not be planning that leadership. Secondly, you are at the receiving end of these sermons. And if you start assessing a sermon in terms of its applicability, but not attempting to apply it yourself, you are not benefiting from it to its full extent.

Let’s get rid of the “-able” suffix. What word are you eliminating?