Preaching Trends

We need to be aware of preaching trends.  Like all trends, they come and go over time, influencing some while leaving others untouched.  Trends can be overt and in your face, or subtle shifts that sweep people along unawares.  For instance, D.A. Carson writes concerning the current focus on preaching narrative:

The current focus on narrative preaching has rightly broadened the older emphasis on discourse passages from the Bible.  If it helps us better handle all the genres of Scripture faithfully and responsibly, it will be to the good.  If it merely tips us from one cultural preference (viz., discourse) to another (viz., narrative), we have not gained anything.  Indeed, because narrative is intrinsically more hermeneutically “open” than discourse, the move may merely contribute toward moving us away from truth.  How much better to remain faithful to biblical truth yet simultaneously focused on Scripture’s existential bite. (Preach the Word, 185.)

This quote helpfully points out several truths about “trends.”  (1) A trend is neither good nor bad in itself, it should be evaluated as part of the broader picture of church ministry.  (2) A trend may be justifiable on one level, but may bring with it side effects or net results that are more sinister. (3) Potentially sinister net results do not automatically disqualify a trend as worthy of our consideration.

Let’s be neither shallow homileto-fashionistas, jumping from one pulpit bandwagon to the next, nor stubborn traditionalists unwilling to learn, thinking we know all we need to know, and committed to increasing irrelevance.  We need to be aware of preaching trends.  We need to be discerning.

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2 thoughts on “Preaching Trends

  1. Peter,

    I have not read the chapter that you quote from. Is Carson talking about narrative preaching or preaching narrative. These are not the same but it seems he uses them interchangeably in the quote cited.

    I appreciate your work here, it is a great encouragement.

    Paul

  2. Good observation Paul, it is in a section dealing with shifting epistemology. I understand him to be writing about preaching narrative, rather than narrative preaching. Similar issues could apply to the broad camp of narrative preaching, but his focus seems to be on genre preference. I agree that the terms used are somewhat inexact. Thanks for pointing that out!

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