It’s an important question. As I talk to people about preaching, and read about preaching, and sometimes hear preaching too (although there are exceptions to what I will write in this post), there is a general sense that something is missing in contemporary preaching. I suppose it probably varies by culture, perhaps by denomination, certainly by individual preacher, but generally speaking, something seems to be missing.
The more I ponder this issue, the more I realize it is not a technical detail (although “technically” there may be many common failings). To use the analogy of a car (since mine is about to receive it’s annual “government test”) – it’s not a matter of a bolt here or a seal there. It’s more on the level of whether the engine is there or not. What I am saying is this – the weakness of much contemporary preaching is a core weakness, not a minor detail.
Perhaps it is that many preachers simply don’t know their Bible well enough. After all, in an age of constant e-communications and busy lifestyles, it seems to be increasingly difficult to find preachers who really dwell in the sacred text, rather than just visiting it during preparation. Perhaps it is that many preachers don’t know their God well enough? I ask it as a question, because I know that is a potentially inflammatory thought. But then again, that’s the beauty of blogging – I can prod to prompt pondering, even if you think I am wrong in what I write. As somebody wrote somewhere (sounds like a Hebrews quotation) – where have all the divines gone? Perhaps the communication of many preachers is too stilted, too inauthentic for this generation? That may seem like a leap into a different aspect of preaching, but I see real connections between the communication aspect of preaching and the previous matters of being a biblical preacher, being God’s preacher. Somehow I don’t think the prophets would have seemed inauthentic.
I’m just thinking out loud. What I’m thinking is that if there is a general weakness in preaching these days, it is less a matter of effective transitions or pithy wording of key statements in a message, and more a matter of the underlying connection with the Lord, deep knowledge of His Word, and authentic heart-to-heart connection between preacher and listeners. What do you think? Am I way off track? Am I missing something? Or, generally speaking, is something missing?