Preaching Articles

As a homiletics professor, I usually spend the last class of each semester peering into my crystal ball, imagining what the future of preaching holds.

Not being a prophet, I am only making assumptions, so please read the following with a discerning mind. Also, I don’t make these statements to be critical of anyone in particular or any church. I am simply making observations and doing a little forward thinking.

So here are 14 statements about current trends and guesses as to the future of preaching:

1. The history of preaching remembers constant movement in terms of methodology and technology. Change is nothing new to preaching, and whatever is “new” is simply that which stands on the shoulders of the past.

2. The 21st century of preaching will face ever-growing opportunities and challenges of societal and technological change. Again, this is not new, but change comes much more quickly and has wider impact than in the past.

3. Technology has flattened the globe by providing instantaneous information. We now live in an information saturated culture. Anyone listening to a preacher has all the information the preacher has as they sit in church with whatever “smart” technology they brought with them.

4. The Internet has provided a wealth of preaching resources and it is replacing many preachers and congregational gatherings. Some people will continue to choose their favorite online preacher over the “live” preaching in their church. Video church is now a reality and will continue into the foreseeable future. Young, inexperienced preachers are more intimidated about preaching than in past generations because their church members have so much excellent preaching at their disposal via technology.

5. Video technology allows for multisite communities, but it has created a geographical and incarnational separation from worshipers gathering as a body (ecclesia). This is a much further step than multiservice. It is true that having multiple services is a step away from having the entire congregation gather for worship, but when congregations gather across town or across the states, there is a much greater sense of separation. Having to watch the pastor via video screen also creates a significant separation between preacher and listener. These are key “incarnational” aspects to preaching that are being stretched.

6. Church growth now has a model of church “franchising,” by having multiple “communities” under the same banner (name, leadership, vision). These communities are being placed alongside single community local churches (sort of like a “Chili’s” restaurant alongside a family owned and operated restaurant).

7. There will be competition to see which multisite “franchises” dominate the Christian market. My apologies if the use of these business terms comes as an offense. I am using them as an analogy. A limited amount of “technologically franchised” preachers will provide tremendous influence upon the church at large. This is not a new trend, but now these preachers are global and readily accessible.

8. Social issues will continue to be politically and geographically divisive. Churches in states that adopt and provide legal acceptance to biblically immoral activities (i.e. homosexuality) will face an ever-growing amount of persecution.

9. The challenge of multiculturalism in church life will move beyond ethnic barriers to age diversity. Multiethnic churches will continue to grow, while age diversity in local churches will diminish.

10. Denominationalism will continue to give way to affinity based networks of churches who share a similar ecclesiology, worship and preaching style. Geographical borders will no longer apply.

11. Urbanization will continue, although generational flight toward and away from city centers will continue based on current living trends and economics. Children will continue to move away from their parents' immediate context in both church and where they choose to live.

12. Mega-churches with large auditoriums will decline and multisite churches will eventually give way to a less formal and more disconnected way of doing church. Technology will increase its role in personal relationships and how the local church operates.

13. Expository preaching will continue, although the clamor for relevance and desire for new forms of sermonizing will eat away at this traditional style of preaching. This is not a new trend, but something that will continue.

14. Christ-centered preaching will overcome its challenges. The Holy Spirit will not allow God’s Word to become null and void. Shining lights will emerge in every generation that will hold fast to proclaiming the unchanging gospel in an ever-changing climate. We must remember where we have been by God’s grace and confidently preach into the future.

So how do we reach people with the gospel without undoing the gospel?

This is the initial question Zack Eswine asks in his helpful book, Preaching to a Post-Everything World (Baker, 2008). He alliterates (unfortunately) his answer so that we might remember these four “Cs”:

1. Content. This refers to our faith. The doctrinal facts about God and the gospel.

2. Character. This requires relational maturity. If you remove character from content, an inappropriate conservatism emerges. If you remove content from character, liberalism surfaces. Preachers must bring to culture the content the Bible presents with the relational character the Bible promotes.

3. Conscience. Sound exposition and discerning contextualization are good, but not enough. Our earthly movement to engage culture with the gospel will require a heavenly movement of the Holy Spirit. Worldly savvy requires greater piety.

4. Culture. There are assumptions we use to understand and proclaim content, character and conscience. Cultures vary, sometimes within neighborhoods, and demand a constant sense of discernment to distinguish biblical mandate from cultural suggestion. We need each other’s help to do this (Eswine, 12).

Dr. Dwayne Milioni is the Lead Pastor of Open Door Church where he has served since 1999. He is blessed with Kay, his wife of 23 years and four children. Dr. Milioni has an M.A and an M.Div from Liberty University and a PhD in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where he teaches as Adjunctive Professor of Preaching and Pastoral Ministries.

Browse All

Related Preaching Articles

Talk about it...

Doug Bower

commented on Jul 26, 2013

Perhaps what is not mentioned, but ingrained in the points, is on-demand preaching. I can listen to a sermon when I can listen to a sermon or when I want. What I am missing though is the alternative to traditional preaching, preaching the message through actively engaging the community. Matthew 25 comes to mind. Feed my sheep. Television, radio, and the Internet manage to be available to people where they are, but what remains missing is direct fellowship and interaction.

Harold Andrew

commented on Jul 26, 2013

Great expression of how tech-preaching is truly our lifestyle and I agree with Doug's comment about what I want When I want. My concern is both live and recorded for later preaching is not teaching like Teaching a whole book of the Bible can connect a lot of dots, through exposure to writers whole life of victory and failure. The larger concepts are more easily learned and retained for personal application and then shared with others = discipleship

Mitchell S Hutchins

commented on Jul 26, 2013

My fear is the use of non-personal media to teach a personal relationship with a loving Savior. Is it possible to reach out to those who need to be touched as Christ touched the lepers through social media? I pray that we are not tearing down instead of building up.

Chris Hearn

commented on Jul 26, 2013

Interesting points. Thanks for the article. I would like to comment on the following- "Anyone listening to a preacher has all the information the preacher has as they sit in church with whatever ?smart? technology they brought with them." Not to make myself out as the "world's greatest preacher" but this isn't really true. Yes, people have the information, but are they accessing it? Are they reading their Bibles critically and comparing what's written to how they live? Are they going to use their Smart Phone to receive the same message from God that the Holy Spirit has given to the preacher that morning/evening?

John Wallace Miller

commented on Jul 26, 2013

Appreciate your prognostications! Not sure "an ever-growing amount of persecution" will come upon churches who adopt the homosexual lifestyle as normative. Who in "every increasing numbers" will persecute these churches?

Daniel Heaberlin

commented on Jul 26, 2013

. John Wallace Miller says... Appreciate your prognostications! Not sure "an ever-growing amount of persecution" will come upon churches who adopt the homosexual lifestyle as normative. Who in "every increasing numbers" will persecute these churches? BROTHER, if you are asking who will persecute those churches that accept the homosexual lifestyle as normal and free of sin.... I can think of at lease 3 besides me... The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit... I hope I misunderstood your comment.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Jul 26, 2013

@John and Daniel, I believe the author is saying that the churches who stand against the homosexual agenda in states that promote it will see greater persecution.

Victor Ramlall

commented on Jul 26, 2013

Dennis is right! I guess a few commas are missing from the sentence viz. 'Churches, in states that adopt and provide legal acceptance to biblically immoral activities (i.e. homosexuality), will face an ever-growing amount of persecution.'

Sybil Brooks

commented on Jul 27, 2013

church creates an environment where people gather to fellowship with God and with each other. Yes, you can access a lot of preacher with technology, but when you become ill, who will they call, when they need help and encourage, who will they call?. Who is know them better than their shepherd. This is why we preach the Gospel truth, and all that seek the truth shall find. And how will they hear without a preacher. God's way will never change

Dr Elisha Mafunga

commented on Jul 27, 2013

The modern way of preaching is changing because of the multisite. but this has created many problem is the congregation because the congregation wants to be near the Bishop/Pastor to share there difficulties. the majority of people who goes to church particularly where prophesying take place do it because the believe some of there problems can be solved. If the church has a multisite and the Pastor/Bishop is 200 miles away, how do you expect these people with problem to share there problems with. The remote cannot represent the bishop or Pastor by Dr Elisha Mafunga

Roberto Martinez

commented on Jul 27, 2013

I bet you used a computer to type your article, right? Preachers who called TV the devils box were the same ones who started using it, not even to mention the radio. We should embrace technology to spread the Gospel and stop being negative about what God is doing in this generation. Let God take care of the rest. Do not worry about the internet, computers and Iphone. They will pass away anyway. Remember that the earth and all in it will pass away, but God's word will remain forever. Be positive my friend and smile...The future of preaching the Word is in God's hand, not in ours. The power of the Cross goes beyond generations

Gerrit Di Somma

commented on Aug 13, 2013

I agree with Zack about the four C's in preaching. As a pastor who has launched three campuses in our city using technology, I see a great benefit in a country (UK) where space is a challenge. We did go to multiple services but found these just as challenging when trying to bring the whole family of God together. With multi-sites we have been able to do this with success. One church, many locations is what we encourage our people to understand. We live stream the sermon into these campuses all at the same time, inviting responses from the campuses. Each campus has its own local pastor and worship team, which release gifting and styles of worship to encourage people to find their niche. Technology has helped us overcome a great challenge of space and unity to reach the multitudes in our city with the truth of God's Word. God bless.

Join the discussion