Is preaching all that?

Dwight A. Moody, the founder and president of the Academy of Preachers, has been recruiting potential preachers at Samford University and Birmingham-Southern College to take part in an effort aimed at reigniting an interest in preaching.

The academy organizes a national festival of preaching each year, summer camps and workshops for aspiring ministers ages 16 to 28, of all denominations. Modern seminary students often seek to work in ministry outside the pulpit, said Moody, former dean of the chapel at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky.

“Today half of seminary and divinity school students are women, and very few if any want to preach,” Moody said. “Some believe that preaching is no longer a socially significant vocation. It has lost part of its punch.”

From the First Great Awakening through the civil rights movement — from theologian Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” in 1741 to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon in Memphis the night before he was killed in 1968 — preachers have had a resounding influence on U.S. culture.

It’s still true to a certain extent, Moody said.

“Every week in America, more people hear a sermon than engage in any other communal act,” Moody said. “Preaching still has an important influence.”

Moody hopes to improve the quality of preaching in America by attracting top talent to the pulpit.

“It’s the Jesus version of ‘American Idol,'” Moody said. “We’re trying to attract talented young people and encourage them to stick to it.”

via Academy of Preachers seen as ‘Jesus version of American Idol’ |


I’ve seen some posts in recently that have kind of gone along with this sentiment… that preaching isn’t necessarily the best way to reach people any more.

I know many people that hold a very high view of preaching.  Most all of them are preachers.

Is preaching something that is foundationally biblical?  I mean, I know that Jesus taught.  After all, we call it the ‘sermon’ on the mount for crying out loud.

But most of Jesus’ time was not ‘preaching’ per se, was it?

And even Jesus’ ‘preaching’ was NOT done in the context of a church service.  Didn’t it mostly happen spontaneously?

We know the early church had elders and leaders.  But did they have ‘preachers’ as we know them today?

Most preachers that I know LOVE to preach.  LOVE it.  And most guard their preaching time as closely as they do their first-born son.  Is this good/bad?  Biblical/extra-biblical?

What do you think?



  • Peter March 23, 2011 Reply

    Not only is preaching biblical, so is BORING preaching.

    Paul bored a guy so bad he fell asleep and fell out the window. Hey, it’s in there! of course, he was miraculously raised… but at least he was in church. 😉

  • Todd Bergman March 23, 2011 Reply

    If I’m not mistaken, our model of church, including an appointed “preacher”, doesn’t come from the Jesus model but from the post-Acts experience of the church. I haven’t done the reading to confirm the facts but I believe the Didache outlines the pattern of worship where there is a single proclaimer and teacher.

    I don’t think it is fair to say that preaching isn’t effective. Talk shows where there is a single voice going on for hours have large audiences. The act of preaching isn’t what has lost effectiveness. I believe it is the delivery and relevance of what is preached.

    • Todd Rhoades March 23, 2011 Reply

      Thanks, Todd. Most of the time, I’ve heard the “Jesus” defense for preaching… but yours is a good one. Please don’t understand ME to say that preaching is no longer effective. I’m just saying what I’ve heard from others recently, and how that compares with what I’ve heard many a preacher say.

      And another question. (I’m full of them). If preaching is NOT primarily effective anymore (for those that say that)… what IS?

      • Todd Bergman March 23, 2011 Reply

        Sorry if that came across as directed at your perspective. I didn’t intend for it to be criticism of your statements, just the idea in general.

        Jesus spoke to people in what could be called teachable moments. But could Jesus be considered effective? At the end of three years of preaching across hundreds of square miles, he had 120-ish people who had responded.

  • Matt Steen March 23, 2011 Reply

    I think the push back on preaching over the last several years is a good thing. Best I can tell is that it stems from the way that many churches have allowed “good Biblical preaching” to excuse all sorts of shortcomings. How many pastors have we all met who have no interpersonal skills, can not lead a church, or have significant character flaws yet because they can “give a good sermon” they are the senior pastor of a church? I am not saying that preaching is not important, but I do believe that the so called move away from preaching is a reaction to the disconnect between what is heard on Sunday and what is seen through the rest of the week.

    I think that preaching is here to stay, and I believe it needs to be, but I think that in the days to come it will be much more difficult as the next generations begin to demand more and more authenticity.

  • Shane March 23, 2011 Reply


    I’m not sure where I had read it, but a blogger offered a good conversation on what he called “spreaching.” His basic point was that when Jesus spoke to people he brought tremendous doctrinal truth and used parables to make them “fill in the blanks.” His point was that Jesus speaking/preaching ministry forced the hearer to personalize the points and develop an application that was both broad (for everyone) and personal (for themselves).

  • Stephen Canfield July 1, 2013 Reply

    Teaching will always be a foundational part of the church, preaching in its current definition not necessarily. People need to learn and they are engaged by someone who communicates effectively, but the gaps between those who can do it well and those who can’t are rapidly increasing. We are seeing trends in the church that match the marketplace…big big chains and small local stores that offer unique items. Translate that to the church and we see big churches with excellent teachers and small churches that focus on the relationships with the teaching not being a focal point. The mid-size church is slowly disappearing along with boring preaching they are known for.

  • Mick July 1, 2013 Reply

    Preaching will certainly go out of style when it is not relevant, has nothing meaningful or impactful in the life of the hearer. We must bring the bad news of what sin has done to each one of us; the good news of what Christ has done to sin in our lives; how He has given us the victory over sin in; and that we only need to live it out with His power and authority. Anything less than that makes preaching entertainment, irrelevant, and pointless.
    Jesus said “if I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me.”, that Statement is still the bar we must all need to reach in order to meet peoples true needs and to love them as Christ does.
    True preaching brings light and is needed now more than ever as we topple into these end days.

  • Patrick Schwenk July 1, 2013 Reply

    Great comments – loved reading all of the above!

    Coming from a preacher… 🙂 Hopefully preachers LOVE to preach/teach – not because they love preaching per se, but because it’s the gift God has uniquely given them to minister to the body. Those with the gift of mercy, love to show mercy. Those with the gift of encouragement, love to encourage. Those with the gift of pastoring, love to pastor, etc. Each gift is certainly biblical, but not always possible in a corporate setting (at least in a typical North American model). The temptation to idolize one gift (preaching, tongues, healing, etc. ), while minimizing others, certainly isn’t new. There seems to be a lot of danger in making the Saturday night or Sunday morning service (preaching or no preaching) central to the Christian life. We can’t ask or expect a service to do things that God has called each of us to do. While the corporate service is important, it can’t be a substitute for the daily sacrifice of following Jesus. Ok, I’m done preaching! 🙂

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