Does Preaching Have A Future?

Back at the emergent event at Asbury in April, I co-orindated a seminar on preaching/teaching, using the research from a section of my doctoral dissertation. In the continuation section below, is an abstract and outline of the chapter. I've been meaning to post it for some time, but it wasn't finalized, and now is. Rather than post it for download, if you e-mail me or leave a comment with your info, I'll e-mail it to you. I'm doing it this way because of bandwidth limits on my site, and I like to interact and know who is reading. ----------

In chapter 4, we move to the issue of preaching and teaching. In chapter 3 we have identified the need for teaching and training and the facilitation of spiritual growth, and in this chapter explore what that means for preaching and teaching.

In particular Meic Pearse and David Norrington have laid the blame for this decline upon preaching, deeming it to be irrelevant to a post-modern world with the pronouncement that it needs to be abandoned. An alternative reaction can be seen by many within the church, who see the undermining of preaching as the very cause for the decline of the church, and who see a need to hold onto or return to “solid Bible teaching” in order to reach post-modern people. While I do believe that we need a change in our approach to preaching that is congruent with present culture, I do not believe the dissolution of preaching or defence of classical “Biblical preaching” will provide the required change. Rather I want to contend that preaching can be renewed by alternative means.

By way of method, I will do this by first showing how the classic church sermon was arrived at and identify its key short-fallings for ministry to post-modern peoples. I will also show that preaching must be changed to have any ongoing use and identify some of its practices that are of continuing value. Then, I will examine the call to abandon preaching, and show that rather than being founded in a genuine post-modern homiletic, it is the continuation of a pre-existing undermining of classical preaching.

In other words, the call to abandon preaching is part of a process of undermining the classical sermon by revivalist preaching and the prophetic teaching movement of modern charismatic churches. The call to abandon preaching is as damaging as the churches’ enculturation of preaching. I will also identify key issues that remain concerns for the future of preaching. Next, I will outline what a post-modern philosophy of preaching might need to include, and attend to, in order to address these concerns, and outline what this might look like in philosophy, role, method and practice.

Lastly, I will offer examples from the life of my church, where this research has been applied and tested on post-modern people in the emerging church context. In conclusion I will argue that preaching must change, but remains vital to the future of our churches in a post-modern context. We must reach back and understand the value of preaching, while moving forward, to renew preaching for a new generation.