State of Preaching Today!

2 Timothy 4:1-4 “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus…. preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

R. Albert Mohler, Jr recently quoted John Broadus in his new book, “He is not silent”, “Preaching is characteristic of Christianity. No other religion has made the regular and frequent assembling of groups of people, to hear religious instruction and exhortation, an integral part of divine worship.”

Preaching is central to the advancement of the Gospel. Biblical preaching is the main strategy God has ordained and blessed throughout the church age and He still uses it today to grow His church. Unfortunately, my observation of pulpits across Australia would be that the state of preaching is a mile wide and an inch deep… shallow at best (I know that I risk being criticised for my observation but it’s true).

I have travelled far and wide across the Body of Christ, attended many conferences and conventions and the same pattern of superficial and thematic preaching is abundant everywhere. A lot of the messages I would have heard from other pulpits would fit into the category of self-help motivational talks than biblical preaching.

Instead of the pulpit being the sacred desk we may as well call it the “Therapy Couch” where people can get tips and techniques all starting with the same letter to help them improve their lives. This isn’t why the church exists or a good enough reason to attend a church. It reflects more of a humanistic ideal, such as satisfying Maslow’s Hierarchy of felt needs than it does the gospel of Jesus Christ that calls men and women to repentance of sin and surrender to a life of following Christ.

I love my brothers and sisters in the Pentecostal movement and thank God for many of the unique contributions made but unfortunately I think there is a whole lot that needs to be looked at when it comes to the expounding of God’s Word. It concerns me and some of it is very unhelpful or sadly even unbiblical. The emphasis weighs more on experience than it does on truth. Our experience needs to be interpreted through the Scriptures, not the other way around.

I have heard from dozens of different people over recent months about their hunger for truth and sound biblical teaching. There is only so many times people can hear about, “Honour”, “Generosity”, the “Anointing” and “Blessing and Favour” before they start to wonder, “Is there anything more?” These things are not going to sustain your faith when it really matters.

There are certain doctrines that have been over-emphasized (Health and Wealth Gospel) at the expense of sound and fundamental doctrines such as the Trinity (who God is); Creation (what God has made); Revelation (How God speaks); Ecclesiology (the Church God sends); Christology (the Son of God – Jesus Christ); the Cross (substutionary atonement); the Fall (man, sin and God’s judgement)… Just to name a few…

When was the last time you heard a series on the major doctrines of Christianity? I think it’s absolutely essential in our plural, postmodern society that we know exactly what we believe and why we believe it. Some pastors may think, “these aren’t very sexy topics” but the reality is these doctrines and others like them form the foundation of Christianity. Jesus isn’t as about attracting crowds of cheer-leaders as he is about making disciples.

I, like the author of, “He is not Silent” would make the following observations of how we got into this state of shallow preaching in the first place.

  1. Contemporary preaching suffers from a loss of confidence in the power of the word: We have had so much critique of different passages of Scripture that some preachers no longer have any confidence to preach exactly what the word says.
  2. Contemporary preaching suffers from an infatuation with technology: In the absence of truth and conviction, many preachers resort to trends and techniques. Technology is good and I utilize it but it is over-used by some at the expense of the message.
  3. Contemporary preaching suffers from embarrassment before the biblical text: Let’s face it, some of us preachers are just unwilling to teach on certain texts because they are too hot to handle and difficult to interpret (Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Timothy 2:8-3:7)… only if you preach for the approval of man. We have to go there and give our best energy to teaching the hard issues.
  4. Contemporary preaching suffers from an emptying of biblical content: More opinions are entering the pulpit than the actual text being addressed. Little study is evident in many sermons and the BIG idea of the text is not being presented.
  5. Contemporary preaching suffers from a focus on felt needs: Topical series abound on handling finances, fulfilling your destiny and faith and very little preaching focuses on the simple exposition of biblical texts, book after book. We have found that if you just teach the Scriptures book in and book out you will go far more in depth on several ‘felt-need’ themes that will be in context and helpful for everyone listening.
  6. Contemporary preaching suffers from an absence of the gospel: There is a lack of preaching centered on the cross. It doesn’t matter what text you are dealing with, both the OT and NT points back to Jesus. Christ-centric preaching needs to be established as the dominant theme of our preaching.

I want to be a voice for change in our pulpits and while I may have some viewpoints that some may take offense at, the reality is, we preachers have a sacred responsibility and will be judged with greater strictness because of the call and gift we have been generously given. The task is too important and people’s souls too precious, for us not to pay greater attention to the sacred desk.

Lead the Change!

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13 Responses to “State of Preaching Today!”

  1. I like it a lot Corey… And if I was being honest – I’d have to say I didnt expect it from a pentecostal pastor – hahaha.

    Adam

  2. Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

  3. Absolutely right! There is a cost at Following Jesus and Preaching the raw truth – there is no other truth! I stand for absolute truth in God and His word… walk the walk and talk the talk…. Go Jesus!

  4. Steven Listopad Says:

    I have been thinking how it has been a long time since I have heard preaching about how this life is not the be all and end all of our experience. There is a life that is to come.

    I would also add that it matters that preacher’s address the reality of things like misery, hardship, discontent, loss, lostness, weakness because these are all things that impact upon the human Christian experience. But in order to address these things with any insightful weight, the preacher has to have been exposed to some life and some profound teaching that is not wrapped up in popular cliches and superficialities. And I agree with you Corey, there is too much light teaching on far too many almost extraneous subjects.

    I couldn’t agree more with Mohler on his point that preaching touches on felt needs topics like finances and destiny. I think one of the biggest mistakes preachers can fall into is telling their congregations that the gospel is synonymous with dreaming big and getting the life that you want. This is one of the worst forms of gospel hijacking going on in the pulpit. It tells me that the preacher hasn’t really come to terms with the gospel message himself. This is the stuff of popular motivation speakers and preachers have a very different call to motivational speakers. I cannot imagine that the opening chapters in Isaiah would rock the house as a key note address fo a motivational speaker but for a preacher, the same chapters are filled with oustanding transformational material necessary for Christian to ponder and take on board and grow from.

    Preacher’s need to be wary not to speak of God as a happy, friendly Genie in a bottle. This attitude divests the very power of the God who is there and is demonstrated in the life of Christ in the gospels!

    Topics like the Cross and the Death of Christ are huge! The very thought that Christ dies is not one that is easily understood nor accepted in popular Western Christianity, especially in the Pentecostal stream. Yet these things when taught well help build a solid and clear foundation that leads to true liberation and transformation. For Christians to come to terms with the understanding that there was a time when Christ loses is huge.

    One more thing I would also say is that I think popular western Christianity has been infiltrated with a very strong middle class American mentality. It comes across like this : God is always on the side of the powerful, the successful, the popular, the attractive and the team with the biggest weapons and the best technology. The end result is that God becomes the people’s God, not the God of the people. Images of the man made idol forged from gold at Mount Sinai come to mind (Exo 32). A preacher who is not discerning is prone to accepting a view of the gospels not as they are written, but rather, as they are interpreted by popular and powerful culture.

    • Corey Turner Says:

      I love your thoughts Steve – Luv to connect with you sometime in the future bro and discuss more.

      • Steven Listopad Says:

        Very happy to catch up mate. I am emerging into a new season and I am so pumped! The older I get the more I want to lock in with God.

        The visual picture that Jesus gave where he spoke of his disciples as the branches and himself as the vine is trong in my mind. I want to remain in the vine my friend. Why? Not for the benefit of my own eternal wellbeing but rather because Christ says by doing so we bring glory to the Father. I am humbled to be attached to the vine of life in the first place, I still beam on the inside when I think about it! Fancy God calling the two of us to join with him in life and ministry!!! It is sooooo amazing!!!

      • Corey Turner Says:

        I agree bro, it’s awesome – I will follow you up soon to connect.

        Corey

  5. Like it Corey …. agree wholeheartedly , praying that when I have the privilege of preaching to others I am faithful in my Biblical proclamation.

    Marney Turner (Mum)

  6. hey mate – not sure if you’d be up for it – but i’d love to re-publish your thoughts on my own blog… There’s some thoughts there I think everyone needs to acknowledge… Let me know 🙂

    Adam

  7. Love reading your Blog Corey. This one was a great read. It’s the reason we started coming to Activate Church. You teach the word of God. It’s what people want and are looking for. Glad we found it… and so close to home!
    Keep it up Ps Corey. We are loving it!

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