I hear a lot of things about preaching. Not all of them are positive. People can’t concentrate as long as they used to. People don’t like long sermons. The church needs to move to “talks” in order to be contemporary and relevant. The religious monological tirade is a thing of the past. And on it goes.
It’s almost amusing how people so quickly default to shrinking and changing the sermon when things aren’t going so well. But if you have the privilege of seeing more than one local church context you will quickly realise that the “diet sermonette” approach is not the only option. Why is it that so many of the thriving churches have 40-minute sermons, or even longer in some cases? Why is it that some churches that make preaching a central feature of church life are packed to the rafters with the generation that can no longer concentrate or tolerate sermons?
I think that throwing out the sermon because it isn’t working in a particular context is short-sighted. It’s like saying my ten year old car is struggling to make the 50 mile commute to work every day, so I’ll replace it with a skateboard. Skateboards are more contemporary, and big old fume generating machines are so old fashioned. I’m not making an ecological statement here, but some forms of transport aren’t up to the burden placed on them. The old car and the new skateboard are not up to the task. So the solution is probably going to be a better car. Old monologues that feel like tirades and pithy little “talks” are not up to the task when it comes to all the weight placed on preached. The solution is not something new, it’s something renewed. If the preaching isn’t good enough, improve the preaching, don’t just terminate the sermon slot.
I’m passionate about good preaching, and saddened by the short-sightedness of so many that feel preaching should be disposed of, even in the absence of a suitable alternative. I’ve said it before, and will say it again. This generation is hungry for good preaching. That is, preaching that effectively and accurately and provocatively and relevantly and engagingly and vulnerably and spiritually conveys the teaching of God’s Word. Remember, we are talking about Biblical Preaching . . . so the material we’re using is the very best there is, it is God’s Word. Now the burden is on us to somehow do justice to God’s Word in how we preach it!
8 thoughts on “Passionate About Good Preaching”
Enjoyed your preaching at Counties conference – interested you didn’t use powerpoint.
Would be interested to know what you think powerpoint adds/detracts from preaching?
Counties (Hertfordshire & Bedfordshire)
Hi Will, thanks for this. It was a joy to be with the Counties folks this weekend – what a great group of servants! I tend not to use powerpoint when preaching (but often do when teaching in a classroom setting). I think if it is done extremely well, then it adds a bit. Usually powerpoint is done poorly and detracts a lot. Here are a couple of posts I’ve written about powerpoint in case you want to chase it a bit:
“This generation is hungry for good preaching. That is, preaching that effectively and accurately and provocatively and relevantly and engagingly and vulnerably and spiritually conveys the teaching of God’s Word. Remember, we are talking about Biblical Preaching . . . so the material we’re using is the very best there is, it is God’s Word. Now the burden is on us to somehow do justice to God’s Word in how we preach it!
-awesome summary! Amen, brother!
This generation is hungry for good preaching.
I have heard many sermon preached in my lifetime and I have preached many sermons, that statement above is absolutely TRUE!
This so succinctly addresses the entire matter and the need to preach biblically today,
“This generation is hungry for good preaching. That is, preaching that effectively and accurately and provocatively and relevantly and engagingly and vulnerably and spiritually conveys the teaching of God’s Word.”
Thanks for posting this.
Peter, thanks for this. Our people are hungry for good preaching.
The folks who want 10-15 minute sermons limit the opportunity for those who want more substantial sermons. I’m not sure how to handle them.
Just a couple of thoughts that may be completely inappropriate in your case, Kevin . . .
1. Sometimes people who fight for short sermons have never tasted decent longer sermons. A captivating thirty minutes feels like five. A tedious 15 minutes feels like 60.
2. Sometimes people who fight for short sermons have been duped by apparently trustworthy “evidence” that contemporary listeners cannot concentrate beyond some arbitrary shorter figure. The truth goes in both directions – namely that people are concentrating longer than ever before in movie-length, but actually people could never concentrate as long as 15 minutes even in the past . . . the preacher has to continually re-engage the listener to effectively hold them for longer than 3-5 minutes.
3. Sometimes people who fight for short sermons simply have no hunger for God’s Word which tends to indicate a deep issue in their own lives (not always and don’t misapply this suggestion!) I wonder how many churches are being controlled by influencers who aren’t even in a personal relationship with Christ?
4. Sometimes we simply have to sensitively and gently do the right thing for the church and accept, with sadness, that some will choose another church that will do things their way.
5. Often we find people who are strongly opinionated about something are actually not understood, but by directly and gently asking about their thoughts we can discover what is really the issue.
Just a few quick thoughts . . .
Great thoughts on the necessity of solid expositional preaching!