Here’s a quote from David Gordon’s chapter on the state of preaching in Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers. I reviewed the book on Monday and recommend it as a quick but insightful read. Anyway, here’s the quote:
[People distort my concern with] “Ah, David, you’re right; ours is not a day of great preaching.” This is not my concern. . . . I don’t care about its presence or absence one whit. What I care about is the average Christian family in the average pew in the average church on the average Sunday. And the problem there is not that we don’t have “great” preachers; in many circumstances we don’t even have mediocre preachers. If Jesus tests Peter’s profession of love by the ministerial act of feeding his sheep, our sheep do not need gourmet meals. But they do need good, solid nourishment, and they are not ordinarily getting it. (pp14-15)
I agree. Now let me put this positively. I tend to teach people, particularly in respect to the main idea of their sermons, that the goal isn’t stunning or great. The goal is just good, faithful and clear. We read super-ideas in some preaching books. These stunning, out of the park, hit it for six, idea-of-the-year, super-main-ideas tend to be the very best the author has ever preached. We can’t live up to some of these pithy, witty, clever, assonated, succinct and memorable main ideas. We may never achieve a single one good enough to be published. But the thing is this – if we will just preach consistently biblical, faithful, plain, clear, just decent main ideas that are derived carefully from the text and targeted prayerfully toward the hearts of the people . . . just a steady diet of good main ideas will transform our churches.