Against Preaching: Preaching In A Media-Saturated Culture

This post is part of The Disciple Making Preacher series. This series attempts to answer those who are against preaching and to propose that preaching is an irreplaceable means of disciple making in the church today.

The prophets of doom in today’s Church are confidently predicting that the day of preaching is over. It is a dying art, they say, an outmoded form of communication, ‘an echo from an abandoned past’. John Stott

Modern forms of communication have had a profound effect on preaching, preachers, and parishioners today.

Some preachers have shortened their messages to cater to the dwindling attention spans of their people. Others have supplemented their sermons with video clips and other visual aids in preaching.

But perhaps worst of all, there are those who have decided that preaching is completely outdated and must be replaced altogether. While supplementing a sermon with video or drama on occasion is not inherently bad, supplanting the sermon completely is a big problem.

A Media-Saturated Problem

The average American watches nearly 5 hours of video each day on TV’s, phones, and computers according to the latest Nielsen Cross-Platform Report.

The average YouTube video is 2 to 3 minutes. Most hour long TV shows might have 6 or 7 commercial breaks.

Hollywood movies have even found a mathematical formula that lets them match the effects of their shots to the attention spans of their audiences.

The Disciple-Making Preacher

Preaching is under attack.

Many have already abandoned preaching for newer, more trendy methods. Others have decided that Jesus and the apostles never preached the way we preach today. Still others have problems with authority. Finally, there are some who simply have never heard a good sermon or have never delivered one themselves and have concluded that sermons are ineffective in the church.

Some have not only abandoned preaching but have made it their mission to preach an anti-preaching message. They constantly oppose the straw man preacher who hides behind a pulpit and delivers a boring 30 minute monologue to a disinterested congregation.

This assault on preaching leads us to carefully consider the following questions:

What is the goal of preaching?”

“Is preaching still a helpful means of making disciples?”

“What are the features of a disciple making sermon?”

“How do we respond to those who have abandoned preaching?”

How to Effectively Plan Sermons

I’m currently developing a workflow for my sermon preparation and thought I would share my plan here. I’ve always had a pretty good informal system for sermon preparation but I am wanting to become more effective and consistent. This post is kind of a ‘note to self’ but perhaps others will get something out of it. I would love to hear your ideas as well.

Step #1 Gather Relevant Information [ongoing]

Before even developing a workflow for sermon preparation, it’s important to pray and think about the needs of the congregation and spend time listening to God. Are there specific themes or deficiencies in the body that need to be addressed? Is God giving you a message that has become a “fire burning in your heart” that you can no longer hold in? (See Jeremiah 20:9)

Keep an ongoing journal or a computer file of ideas for series, titles, illustrations, insights, etc.

What topics and books of the Bible have already been preached in recent months/years? It’s good to have some sort of spreadsheet that includes sermon text, topic, main idea and any illustrations used so that you don’t keep preaching the same thing over and over. The idea is to “declare the whole plan of God” (See Acts 20:27)

Are there other resources that could be useful here like a church-wide survey or a discussion with others in leadership?