The Future of Preaching?

How do you feel about the current state of preaching? Does Sunday morning preaching still meet needs? Does this old practice need a fresh overhaul?

This is one item Len Wilson and Jason Moore in their book- The Wired Church 2.0– address. While still acknowledging the divine place and mandate for preaching (Romans 10:14-15) they offer suggestions on how to keep preaching contemporary.  Here are some of their ideas:

  • Use media of all kinds- not just PowerPoint, but video clips, audio clips, etc. Use it but don’t overuse it. Use it when it fits into the  message, but don’t force it. Keep it simple but powerful. This is nothing new of course, but so important to presenting the message in our visual age.
  • Go interactive- with personal testimonies and/or stories (which could be in the form of pre-recorded video or live interviews).  Make the sermon less a passive activity and more an involving one.
  • Create a sermon participation team. Gather some creative people and ask them to assist in sermon building. Provide them the topic, text and points and allow them to provide illustrative ideas, media suggestions and even contribute ideas to shape the sermon direction. I recently have done this and so far have been blown away by the response and contributions. It has given my preaching a new energy and I believe a closer connectivity to the body.

Preaching will always be around.  It is God ordained and it will survive, but as culture around us changes how they come to process information those of us who preach these sermons must adapt the message and take advantage of technology to proclaim it.

A poem, prayer, and three points- just doesn’t connect much anymore.

Any thoughts?


14 Responses to The Future of Preaching?

  1. Wendy says:

    The preachers at my church use both your first two suggestions. Our sermons are relevant, interesting and applicable. One of our “guest” preachers (she used to be on staff but now has a paid job elsewhere but still preaches for us a couple of times a year) frequently bases her sermons on a contemporary song. Her sermons are always excellent.

  2. Scott McCown says:

    I appreciate this post. I think we need to be careful and not let the fluff of what is new or what attracts people today to get in the way of the message. I gather that Wilson and Moore may have stated this in their book. I need to find a copy for myself.

  3. Tim Archer says:

    It helps to keep in mind that Romans 10 is speaking of evangelism, not pulpit preaching. The sermon as we know it on Sunday morning falls more into the realm of expedient than anything else. It’s a good form of teaching, but we’re hard-pressed to make a biblical case for it’s necessary inclusion in every assembly.

    We are to read the Word. We are to teach. Must that take the form of a sermon?

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  4. Scott McCown says:

    As an expedience most congregations I am familiar with do have services where there is no sermon (i.e. Song and Prayer services). Many fear that too much media moves the sermon from teaching to entertaining. We must, whatever method we use, make sure we do not overshadow the message with flair.

    • Wendy says:

      Scott, those who fear too much media ned to be taught that teaching can be done very effectively using media, and that just because something might be entertaining does not mean it is not didactive? Why can we not use flair to enhance the message?

      • Scott McCown says:

        Wendy, flair to enhance a message can be and is good. I am not against using media. But we need be careful to make sure that is what we are doing and not just using media. I have seen video used effectively, I have seen interview used to near perfection. I have also seen a video that seemed disconnected from the message and detracted from the message, but used because the speaker / group thought they had to have a video to keep the audience’s attention. I suppose I am being a voice of caution.

  5. Danny says:

    I worry that we have “message overload.” Perhaps we move someone in a sermon, they find great things to focus on in their life so that they can grow and serve. Then… the next Sunday, or even that evening… we want them to focus on something completely different. The second sermon is one of the birds coming along and snatching up the seed (first sermon) before it can take root. I am not sure about the answer to this… but it has been on my mind of late.
    I also think people hear so many messages (church, school, tv, commercials, books, magazines,etc…) that they have become very good at filtering out inconvenient messages. They don’t necessarily reject them, they just say, “That’s interesting,” then forget it. Or they say, “I’ll have to give that some thought,” but then never do.
    Just a couple of ideas that I have been kicking around. I really appreciate the idea of a support committee in the preparation of sermons.

    • Scott McCown says:

      Danny, I had never thought about the second sermon and the bird comparison. “That’s interesting . . .I’ll have to give that some thought . . .” Maybe we need to make what Sunday sermons we present second a narrower focus (a laser beam as opposed to a flood light) of the earlier Sunday message. Hmmm, time for thinking.

    • Tim Archer says:

      In his book Disciple, Juan Carlos Ortiz talks about deciding not to move on to another topic until he saw some change. If he was preaching on love, unless he saw the congregation behaving in a more loving way, he would continue to speak on love.

      Never been brave enough to try it myself. 🙂

  6. dannydodd says:

    Hey, great discussion going on! Thanks for the input.

    Balance- I think that is the key to using media- as with most things.

    Never been brave enough to try that either Tim.

  7. Good stuff! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Trey Morgan says:

    Not sure a poem ever connected. 🙂

  9. J D says:

    Brethern, we are drifting.

  10. I’ve been to churches that heavily use media and those that shun all advances and technology. I’ll have to say, it’s easier to relate to sermons that shun all new inventions. As humans we have very limited attention span. We have to have our minds brought back to the topic a lot.

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