What’s Missing in Preaching These Days?

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?

2 thoughts on “What’s Missing in Preaching These Days?

  1. In my opinion, what is missing is an uncompromising faithfulness to the true gospel, which as we all know from looking back at history and the bible itself, will probably not fill a pastor’s church to the rim, but for those who remain, will bring about a complete transformation that will result in praise and glory to God and not man.

    For an example of what my point is talking about, I would invite you to read my post entitled “The truth that not many Christians are prepared to hear and share”.

    Thank you for your post.


    ransom33 @ http://www.ransom33.wordpress.com

  2. In my opinion, what’s missing is unction from, or anointing of, the Holy Spirit). If you look in Luke 4:18, just before Jesus’ public preaching ministry begins, he announces (quoting from Isaiah 61: 1-2) that the Spirit of the Lord is upon him and has anointed him. If we ask “why?”, the answer is, “to preach good news … to proclaim freedom…” (Luke 4:18). Hence, in Jesus’ ministry preaching is the consequence of being anointed by the Holy Spirit who gives the unction to preach in the power of the Spirit.

    The same is true if we look at Pentecost in Acts 2 when the public preaching ministry of the NT church began. Peter’s preaching is a direct result of his being anointed by the Holy Spirit. Likewise in Paul’s ministry; public preaching and being filled with the Holy Spirit are linked (see Acts 9: 17, 20).

    What’s wrong with preaching today is that men either do not live the lives required of men of God, or do not spend time with the Lord in prayer, or are not called to the preaching ministry, or perhaps are lazy and do not put in the necessary effort in preparation of the man and the message (exegesis etc..). Whatever the reason, the unction of the Holy Spirit is not there and so what comes out is possibly the man’s best effort but certainly not God’s word preached in the power of the Spirit by His servant.

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, but generally for a number of years now. I’m an itinerant preacher. I do experience unction when I’m preaching (and I see the response in the congregation … a sense of the felt presence of God accompanied by a heavy or pregnant silence and solemnity) but I also know that this grace is imparted in part because God knows that I take preaching His word seriously and regard His worship as of utmost importance (i.e., that it should be characterised by reverence and awe as exhorted in Hebrews 12: 28-29).

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