"Preach the Gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words"

WELS Congregational Services provides various media for congregations including Bible studies. In Season and Out of Season is a 3-part study on evangelism. It's kind of sketch. First, it isn't grounded in doctrine. There is no direct discussion of election, vocation or soteriology - kind of important! Instead the studies revolve around me, and me drawing conclusions from a smattering of Bible passages. It uses a number of evangelical ideas like a four point plan for addressing "your personal mission field" and using unbiblical categories like "de-churched" and "never-churched." One thing that particularly caught my attention was the following

What do you think?

Preach the gospel in all times and, if necessary, use words. 

Well, since you asked... it's a false statement. Zero merit. First, "if necessary" poses a false dichotomy, see Romans 10:10,14ff. Second, re-read John 1! Christ is the Word, made flesh, and we are language-beings, made in God's image. Third, our confessions in Ap IV:67 state "God cannot be apprehended nisi per verbum, except by the Word".  Fourth, the Gospel is defined in FC SD V in the broad sense as the whole doctrine of Christ, in the narrow sence as the preaching of grace after repentance. Neither of these can be performed without the use of laungauge.

What does the Bible study guide say?

"The statements you discussed have some merits, don't they. The point ... is that the way we live our lives is going to be seen by those around us and it really goes back to what Jesus said about letting your lives shine before men ... but notice the weakness ... to be honest our actions never proclaim the gospel. people can see how Jesus impacts our lives but it can't tell them who Jesus is or what he did to save us"

No. There is no merit to the saying "Preach the Gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words." There is no middle ground - if you are preaching the Gospel, you are using words, full stop. Christ is the Word made flesh, and we are the language-beings. To say any different is a denial of the nature of the image of Christ in man. 

The WELS needs to stop pussyfooting with evangelical tropes.

(The image is St. Francis of Assisi, to whom this quote is often attributed.... wrongly. This quote is unsourced but closely mirrors a line from the Franciscan Rule "Let all the brothers, however, preach by their deeds." Our deeds can preach, in a sense, to our neighbors, and preach rightly to our Christian neighbors. But without that hermeneutical key of Christ, our deeds can't be interpreted.)