Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Incredible Shrinking Pulpit

From Al Mohler:

Preaching has fallen on hard times. So suggests a report out of Durham University's College of Preachers. The British university's CODEC research center, which aims to explore "the interfaces between the Bible, the digital environment and contemporary culture," conducted the study to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the College of Preachers. The report is not very encouraging.

As Ruth Gledhill of The Times [London] reports, "Sermons, history shows, can be among the most revolutionary forms of human speech. From John Calvin to Billy Graham, preaching has had the power to topple princes, to set nation against nation, to inspire campaigners to change the world and impel people to begin life anew."

Indeed, preaching is the central act of Christian worship, but its great aim reaches far above merely changing the world. The preaching of the Word of God is the chief means by which God conforms Christians to the image of Christ. Rightly understood, true Christian preaching is not aimed only at this earthly life, but is the means whereby God prepares his people for eternity.

Yet, you wouldn't know this if you judged the importance of preaching by its place in many of today's congregations. Gledhill observes, "In many churches this most vibrant of moments has withered to little more than 20 minutes of tired droning that serves only to pad out the gap between hymns and lunch."

The withering of preaching is not uniform in all congregations and denominations. Evangelicals were most enthusiastic about preaching, while others registered less appreciation for the preached Word. Interestingly, Gledhill reports that "Baptists and Catholics were also more enthusiastic about the Bible being mentioned in sermons than were Anglicans and Methodists."

The Anglicans also expressed a desire to be entertained, rather then educated. The Rev. Kate Bruce, Fellow in Preaching and Communication at the CODEC center, said that "in a culture which values entertainment and likes stand-up, over a quarter [of respondents] said they want preaching to be entertaining, too."

Read the entire article HERE.

No comments: