The Problem with Preaching

18:53

‘The emphasis on daily personal walk means that a central motivation for attendance at worship is the desire to be admonished toward a godly lifestyle. The typical evangelical sermon takes up the challenge to embody this concern. Although the specific topic may vary, the point the evangelical preacher makes each Sunday is the same: “If you are a believer, holy conduct must characterize your life not only Sunday morning but also Monday through Saturday. What is heard in the Sunday worship service must be translated into action throughout the week. If this is not the case, then your faith merely fades into a useless ‘churchianity.’”’ 

(Stanley J. Grenz, Revisioning Evangelical Theology: A Fresh Agenda for the 21st Century, p.49) 

I came across this description of typical American evangelical preaching while reading Grenz for some academic work. I’d like to say that things are different here in Britain, but, in reality, often they’re not. Even here it seems that often enough the epitome of sermon responses is to feel ‘challenged’. So let me just quickly point out a few wee problems with the type of preaching Grenz describes.
1. There’s only so much challenging you can take before it becomes a wearying burden.

2. If the theme every Sunday is my conduct, then Christianity becomes all about what I do.

3. If the point of going to church is to be challenged for the week ahead, then the church isn’t much more than a weekly pep rally for MY walk.

4. You have to think about when you can invite your unbelieving friends; if most sermons are directed at Christians to get them to live better, then how do you know when you can bring someone along to hear the gospel?

5. Such a sermon ‘works’ without Christ’s incarnation and atonement.
And now my five rejoinders:

1. Christ calls the wearied and heavy laden to Him for rest, so meeting with Christ in His Word shouldn’t involve becoming wearied and heavy laden (Matt. 11:28). That would be the opposite.

2. It’s not about what I do, but about what Christ has done. So then, shouldn’t our attention be on Christ and what He’s done?

3. The Church is Christ’s Bride for whom He died (Eph. 5:25) and which He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28). He loves His Church and when we gather together as a church, He meets with us in His Word and at His Table. His gospel Word preached to us as a church calls us back to Him and sends us out into the week ahead resting and relying on our Saviour.

4. Non-Christians need Jesus. Christians need Jesus. So if we preach Jesus, then we’re preaching what everyone needs to hear.

5. If a sermon ‘works’ without Christ’s incarnation and atonement, then it doesn’t actually work at all. If it could be preached in the synagogue, then it’s not Christian proclamation. The content of biblical preaching is ‘Christ and Him crucified’ (1 Cor. 2:2)

You Might Also Like

2 comments

Blog Archive

The Tenets of the Apostolic Church


The Unity of the Godhead, and Trinity of the Persons therein.

The utter depravity of human nature, the necessity for repentance and regeneration and the eternal doom of the finally impenitent.

The virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death, triumphant resurrection, ascension, and abiding intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ; His second coming, and millennial reign upon earth.

Justification and Sanctification of the believer through the finished work of Christ.

The Baptism of the Holy Ghost for believers, with signs following.

The nine gifts of the Holy Ghost for the edification, exhortation and comfort of the Church, which is the body of Christ.

The Sacraments of Baptism by immersion and of the Lord's Supper.

The Divine inspiration and authority of the Holy Scriptures.

Church government by apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders and deacons.

The possibility of falling from grace.

The obligatory nature of tithes and offerings.