20 November, 2006

Hearing Preaching in Post-Modernity

The concept of preaching has been challenged in the post-modern evangelical church. This may be because the preaching is not good, but it may also be that the hearing is not good.

Preachers need to be diligent in making their sermons Christ centered, exegetical, and applicatory to these post-modern times. On the other hand, hearers of sermons need to train their minds, ears, and rear-ends to endure a 40 minute sermon. My generation has the attention span of a gnat. I have heard it said that even in conversation the 20-somethings down to teens are not really having conversations, but verballing IM-ing each other.

With our culture being visually oriented and having less and less abilities to focus and to concentrate, we as Christians need to retrain our minds and be not conformed to the ways of this world. After-all, faith comes by hearing- and that requires a preacher.

The Right Hearing of Preaching
By this subject matter of preaching the word of God, we may receive a good direction to observe two caveats enjoined by Christ concerning hearing:

The first is concerning the matter which we hear, "Take heed what you hear," Mark 4:24. We must hear nothing with approval except what we know to be the word of God. We must, therefore, be well acquainted with the Scriptures ourselves, and by them test the things which we hear, whether they are the word of God or not, as the men of Berea did, Acts 17:11.

The second caveat is concerning the manner of hearing, "Take heed how you hear," Luke 18:18. That which we know to be grounded upon the Scriptures we must receive, "not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God," 1 Thess. 2:13. We must with reverence attend to it; we must in our hearts believe, and we must in our lives obey it.
-William Gouge, (1575-1653)


Anonymous said...

Very excellent point, and something that can't be stressed enough. It's all too easy to view church as a passive thing. If we start being active during the sermon, we might start being active in the church body as well. At the very least, we'd get more out of the sermon.

Andrew Duggan said...

I'm all for a 40 minute sermon, but too often instead of a 40 minute sermon there is a 10 minute sermon repeated 4 times. It's not the repetition that's bad, it's often the fact that preacher didn't have more than 10 minutes of "Christ centered, exegetical and applicatory" content, but still felt he needed to measure up to the neo-Puritans on sermon length.

Preach what needs to be preached, but clock watching on the part of preachers is probably a bigger problem than it is on the part of the hearers.

Those with a hunger and thirst for the Word of God will listen regardless of the "length" even if the preacher isn't doing his part. Those who don't hunger and thirst for the Word, will tune out even the best sermon after one second.

The problem for today is not that people are generally less able to listen or converse, it's that they are dead in their sins. What you view as generations past's ability to listen is actually their ability to listen because of their renewed hearts and wills.

Granted, Christians do need to train themselves to listen better to better hear and then be able to do the Word, but that part's not easier or harder than it ever was.