The Content of Christian Preaching

Kevin DeYoung has an excellent post based on T. David Gordon's Why Johnny Can't Preach. Some excerpts:

After wrestling with the nature of preaching for 25 years, Gordon has concluded that the content of Christian preaching should be the person, character, and work of Christ. Kind of makes sense. Of course, preaching will included moral exhortation, but it is never appropriate, says Gordon, "for one word of moral counsel ever to proceed from a Christian pulpit that is not clearly, in its context, redemptive. That is, even when the faithful exposition of particular texts require some explanation of aspects of our behavior, it is always to be done in a manner that the hearer perceives such commended behavior to be itself a matter of being rescued from the power of sin through the grace of Christ" (70-71).

Gordon sees four alternatives to this type of gospel preaching: Moralism, How-To, Introspection, and Social Gospel/Culture War. That is, instead of preaching Christ crucified and the grace of God, we end up preaching "be better" or "here are three steps to being better" or "are you really a Christian?" or "we need to do more to fight the bad guys out there." It's not that we can't do any of this as preachers--Gordon says there is a place for three of the four (everything but the how-to)--but "the pulpit is almost never the place to do this" (91). What must predominate in our preaching is the person, character, and work of Christ. And everything else should manifestly flow from these things...

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Sounds like a book that's worth getting.

Moralistic Preaching is so 80s

A great article by Ed Stetzer and Jason Hayes on preaching to the younger unchurched:

Directly connected to the younger unchurched's aversion to simplistic preaching is their aversion to "tidy" preaching. The Church has somehow forgotten that life is not always about having a neat, pat answer...

This means that the moralizing of our preaching past is out like the 80s. Our preaching should encompass more than do's and don'ts. It should reach to the why and the how behind our proclamation. Great preaching requires mining truth down to its deepest core and assigning it to resonate within the hearts of our listeners. As a result, our preaching must go beyond appeals to behavior modification, beyond pithy platitudes on being happy and living well. Our preaching must wrestle with the meat and marrow of human existence, because this is what young adults are already doing. Otherwise it is like tossing a fortune cookie to a man starving in the desert.