Preaching Articles

Last century, most churches followed pretty much the same format. People met in a special building, sat in rows, sang some songs and listened to a sermon. The room was set up either as a classroom (with an expert delivering information), or as a performance venue (with a performer providing inspiration), or some combination of the two. Either way, the people in the rows listened silently while the person on the stage did all the talking. It was a one-way flow of information and inspiration.

This century, the world around us is changing. The internet is the first ever truly two-way media. Instead of sitting back and being broadcasted at, we are now active participants and contributors. We now place a priority on connection, on being part of the conversation, on participation. People have 24/7 access to high-quality information and inspiration, so they no longer need to go to church for those things. Slowly but surely, these global, societal shifts are changing the way we do church.

More and more people in churches are tired of sitting silently, staring at the backs of each other's heads—they want to connect with one another, to love and support and encourage and build one another up, like the Bible tells us to. People are tired of meeting in special buildings and hiding away from the world around them—they want to transform their neighborhoods and communities. God's people are tired of being passive consumers, sitting back in the pews and quietly listening—they want to be active participants, empowered to have a voice and make a difference.

Some churches have stopped meeting in special buildings and started getting together in homes, in coffee shops, in bars, in community centers, even in the local park. Some churches are sticking with the traditional service but making their sermons shorter and giving people opportunity to question and discuss what they've learned. Still others are forming groups to focus on their neighborhood and community and to embrace the marginalized in their cities. More and more churches are finding creative ways to prioritize connection, dialogue, participation and empowerment.

These changes are exciting, because the church is starting to look more like it did in the New Testament—not a hierarchy, but a community of brothers and sisters, all equals under one head, who all had a voice and participated in worship together, in their homes and in their neighborhoods. Preachers are becoming facilitators, willing to share the stage and the microphone to give all of God's people a voice and an impact. Church was never supposed to be a lecture theatre or an entertainment complex, but the family of God building one another up to impact the world and restore it to God.

Kathleen Ward co-writes a blog with her best friend and husband, Kevin-Neil Ward. They’ve been married for 18 years and have four children, age 3–15. In her spare time, Kathleen likes to paint portraits, read books and learn to play piano—if only she could find some spare time!

Kevin-Neil Ward facilitates a Christ-centered, active learning community using principles and ideas he picked up through his studies in theology, counselling, life coaching, missions, organic church planting and business administration. Kevin-Neil is enjoying life in his forties and loves bike-riding and watching the Tour de France late into the night every July.

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Art Pavelski

commented on Oct 28, 2014

I am not sure where preaching is a bad thing, or as it is described here as sitting as passive observers and looking at the backs of other peoples heads. I think Acts 2:41-42 speaks of people immediately after being baptized oftem came to listen to the disciples teaching. I think we also find in Exodus where people stood for hours listening as Moses read the law. I am a little concerned with what appears to me to be the "I want church my way" attitude that seems a little selfish. I would rather like to hear a "let's come together and hear about what God has to say to us and be challenged to live as He commands in His word" attitude.

Joe Salcido

commented on Oct 28, 2014

So Kathleen, tell us what you really think about Pastoral leadership and the assembling together in "special buildings" as you put it. I see an article here loaded with personal commentary and lacking in Biblical truth. Life groups, cell groups, small groups etc. are all great tools but without Pastoral care and overseeing these tools have the potential to turn into many things that are not the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. People let's stick to the Scriptures for our guidance for Church work.

Adrien Thorne

commented on Oct 28, 2014

I have to agree with Art and Joe. Some great words in reference to connecting and giving opportunity, however there are the offices of Church leaders to consider and there is a scriptural description to their particular functions, and they should not be marginalized to suit our culture. I consider myself a relevant and pretty edgy pastorn, having had a very successful career in the arts for 25 years. However, I have watched lives transformed at the alter at the end of our services. The effects of preaching brings fruit that is hard to deny. On the other hand those changes could not have been maintained without the fellowship you are describing, so I believe we need it all!

Curtis E. Nester

commented on Oct 28, 2014

(Tit 1:3) "But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour" Preaching is still primary in the life of the church. It is not discussion nor just teaching. It is something unique!

Richard Scotland

commented on Oct 28, 2014

I am not sure why all of God's people need to have a voice in the church and make an impact there. Bad enough when someone who loves their own voice tries to commandeer a house group, let alone a church service. To say we are all equals under one head, yes and no! Some of us are called as pastors, some as teachers, some as healers, some as prophets etc. However it is an interesting article which causes me to stop and think and I do agree about communicating in better ways with non-Christians for sure. Keep writing and challenging!

John Hoffpauir

commented on Oct 28, 2014

I agree that in many cases the church has been inside the walls listening too much to ourselves and not getting out into the world. However, as others have stated, Scripture does place great importance on preaching. It also tells us that there will come a time when many will not want to hear sound doctrine preached. There must be time for interaction and discussion of ideas, but I believe Scripture also tells us that we are to preach and teach the word.

Tom Voigt

commented on Oct 28, 2014

We would do well to go back and study what was central to the Reformation in both Luther's and Calvin's day....it was the supremacy of the preached word. In our pluralistic, relativistic culture, let's not cut back on the Word preached. Let's make it more central to everything we do....that's where the seeds to make a difference in society will be created.

Rodney Shanner

commented on Oct 28, 2014

I do not disagree with giving people an opportunity to ask for clarification about a sermon or to dialogue about the issues addressed. HOWEVER, a biblical text is not about me telling you WHAT IT MEANS TO ME. It is about proper exegesis. The text will tell you what it means. Then we apply that message to our current situation.

James Bailey

commented on Oct 28, 2014

In my opinion it is not a good thing that w have maginalized and made something so contemporary out of our times of worship. We hear this a lot from folks who have a background in mission work --but that is a different setting, and in most cases the people have a different backgound -- in the American church that Touchy-feelly aproach tends to fracture, and dilute both the fabric of the church, and the message we are delivering.

Dr. Shirley Lynn

commented on Oct 28, 2014

Everyone doing their own thing sound like the time when everyone does as he wants without sound doctrine. The Bible tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves. I take that to mean together in one place, the church. The church began in the Book of Acts and will continue until Christ calls the church home.

Jewel Faison, Ph.d.

commented on Oct 28, 2014

Yes, The assembling of the saints together was and is "the church"... the church is the body of Christ in the earth today - "we" are that body! 1 Cor.12:27. So where that "church" meets is not as important as the church meeting together. I know that you were not suggesting that the saints can ONLY meet in "a church building." Once we (saints) come together to worship the King of kings, the church has met!

Dave Wallace

commented on Oct 28, 2014

I have heard again and again it's a new world today and we have to change our methods while keeping the message. There's some truth to that I suppose but let's be careful what we throw out. This is a technology advanced generation no denying, but human nature hasn't changed. The sinful hearts of people before the flood are a lot like people I meet every day. Scripture written by Moses or David speaks today as if the ink were still wet in the quill. You want to replace the pastor/teacher with small groups, coffee or beer bars, and cell? That might draw a croup but I haven't seen it grow mature believers. I know that's a generalization, but that's pretty much how I see it. Fads come and go like yesterday's news but I'm keeping what works.

Dave Wallace

commented on Oct 28, 2014

I have heard again and again it's a new world today and we have to change our methods while keeping the message. There's some truth to that I suppose but let's be careful what we throw out. This is a technology advanced generation no denying, but human nature hasn't changed. The sinful hearts of people before the flood are a lot like people I meet every day. Scripture written by Moses or David speaks today as if the ink were still wet in the quill. You want to replace the pastor/teacher with small groups, coffee or beer bars, and cell? That might draw a croup but I haven't seen it grow mature believers. I know that's a generalization, but that's pretty much how I see it. Fads come and go like yesterday's news but I'm keeping what works.

Greg Parks

commented on Oct 28, 2014

Your article has some truth to it in reporting what the church is becoming - a group of egocentric seekers looking to mold God in their own image. The Bible is full of accounts where God's people STOOD for hours and looked at the backs of peoples heads while the speaker proclaimed 'Thus saith the LORD". You will find very few of these at church work parties,cleaning the restrooms or helping to clean the church or any other menial task in that obsolete meeting place. These duties require anonymity and most 'believers' are looking for notoriety and recognition ala the Facebook,instagram posts and pictures.

Pastor Sandy .

commented on Oct 28, 2014

I think I can speak for a lot of others commenting here that we go through a lot to ascertain that we are indeed called of God to be in the pulpit. I for one am not good at fielding impromptu questions; however, I spend hours and hours preparing for a sermon. There is a time for a sermon, and a time for a Bible study.

Henry C. Jaegers

commented on Oct 28, 2014

I have just completed reading the Life of Gypsy Smith and the thousands who flocked to hear the message that He preached. That was the era of true revivals. Oh to see that kind of movement again. I'm sure that those espousing these new methods have no idea of what true revival is all about and we will never see such as long as these ideas prevail. "Revive us again"Henry Jaegers

Andy Doerksen

commented on Oct 28, 2014

It's certainly true that many trappings of church meetings are just man-made and can therefore be UNmade. I'm not particular about venue or sharing times and so forth - but this one phrase really caught my attention and is disturbing: "Preachers are becoming facilitators...." Uh, no. Preachers are called to PREACH; teachers are called to TEACH. Obviously there's a time *not* to preach or teach, but when the time is at hand, then it's precisely teaching and/or preaching that must take place.

Mike Ingo

commented on Oct 28, 2014

I understand the concept you are discussing here. I try to look at how Jesus "did" ministry. He taught in church and out of church. He taught one on one and then He preached to thousands at a time. In my opinion the way to be "the church" and not "do" church is to follow His examples as much as possible. We plant and water, but He gives the increase. Thanks for the article.

Mary Calder

commented on Oct 28, 2014

...Is there anything new under the sun? Church didn't always mean a building or a stodgy organization but it has always meant a group growing and worshiping together. Preachers, teachers, leaders along with students, seekers and experienced Christians are all part of it. Isn't it by the "foolishness of preaching" that salvation comes about? In conjunction with the work of the Spirit of God of course. In 41 years of ministry I find God to be sovereign; His Spirit leading, guiding, and convicting; and the church to be his chosen vehicle for winning a lost world. Nothing passive or out of date about that.

Anonymous

commented on Oct 28, 2014

The worship service is not about us--it is a worship designed to please God. Too often the worshipers come to be entertained--that is not the purpose of worship. The worship service is to be conducted according to Biblical teaching.

Fr. Phillip Edge

commented on Oct 29, 2014

I agree totally with your comment. It's supposed to be about HIM, and what's not about HIM is about them, but what it's not is...it is NOT about us. It's unfortunate that many today want a Las Vegas style church with giant screens, rock bands on a 'stage', piped in sermons, etc. All they need now is popcorn...buttered, at that.

Doug Lapointe

commented on Oct 29, 2014

Some good points and much to learn from. But, we need to be careful when it comes to preaching and teaching... The Bible says, "let not many of you be teachers." This and "Give all of God's people a voice" do not fit so easily together. I for one would get real tired of hearing poor preachers and teachers speak because we must be willing to share the "stage and microphone."

Billy Brim

commented on Oct 29, 2014

I understand the concept of what you are saying...but it is teachings like this that are causing this new generation and this new way of doing church to actually weaken the church. I am a preacher of the word...not a facilitator. I understand the importance of the internet...but something powerful and supernatural happens when God's people get together to worship and HEAR the WORD preached. The devil knows this and that is why he loves this type of teaching putting down the importance of meeting together.

Jamne Smith

commented on Oct 29, 2014

A "performer providing inspiration", "special building". Is this in reference to a God called man to preach the word, LIVING WORD OF GOD to a called out assembly of believers according to the instruction of the BIBLE. I have to disagree with this commentary. The church may be changing, and just maybe we need to get back to the grass roots of "NEW TESTAMENT" and gather together as brother and sisters in Christ, in "CHURCH" to fellowship, discipleship, and worship GOD and to serve HIM according to HIS perfect will.

Robert Wheat

commented on Oct 29, 2014

If research groups are telling us the truth, that 90 of churches today are declining or losing ground in the community where they exist, then perhaps our preaching needs to travel about like Christ or Paul. Jesus did not attend one church for three years, but as He commanded us... "Go make disciples... baptize, teaching all I have commanded." Sounds like we are stuck in the "Come in here to hear," rather than "Go" emphasis - "as you are going" command. We need men and women of God to live-out their calling, share the Gospel and Show the Gospel... and many times that does not cause changed lives for eternity inside the church. We need to model Acts 2, receive the word, devotion to word, share the word, be in unity, common service, uncommon wonders, worship at church while fellowship house to house. This needs to be married to Hebrews 10 assembling but also Hebrews 10:24 good deeds, and yes, perhaps elsewhere. I'm not sure I read the article with the intent of going to beer bars and dismantling the pastor with critical disagreement or contemporary fluff, but one who needs to undershepherd with truth in the midst of darkness prevailing upon the church (people of God in Christ).

Billy Brim

commented on Oct 29, 2014

There were guys like Paul, who went out and about. But there was the local churches like the church of Ephesus, Corinth. There are those called to go out and be evangelist. But there are guys like Timothy who was a church leader. They were instructed to setup deacons. This desire to be an "entertainment" church and "internet" church has its place...but nothing can replace the church...the local congregation.

David Bentley

commented on Oct 29, 2014

Ekklesia is the assembling of ourselves together. Whether or not that occurs twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday evening or on any other day of the week, any time Christians meet together with the common purpose of unity, worship, edification, etc..., it is a church meeting. However, there is something to be said about when the church meets on the first day of the week. Paul spent much time teaching the Corinth church about structure and proper conduct when coming together. Another important fact is that in Acts 20:7, the disciples came together on the first day of the week for the purpose of the Lord's supper and to hear the proclaimed word, thus "and Paul continued his message...". I am all for thinking outside the box for bible studies, question and answer sessions, etc... but as for the first day of the week service(s), "conduct yourselves in an orderly manner." - that orderly manner being that order which was set forth by the early church. As far as the suggestion for bars, "abstain from all appearance of evil." Just not good for a meeting of the church. Finally, I agree with what another commenter referenced from Titus 1:3 - "But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour." Preaching is absolutely critical and is "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness." And "How shall they hear without a preacher?"

Olawepo Adeniji

commented on Oct 30, 2014

There is a need for caution here. We are in a changing world where people and things are changing, but does God change?or does His word change? 2Tim.2:19 says "Nevertheless, God's foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription..." We are advised in Heb.10:25 "Let us not give up meeting together...and all the more as you see the Day approaching." We can never displace the place of "meeting together" for Jesus says in Matt.18:20 "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them". The Church cannot do without meeting or fellowship "together", "For there the Lord "bestow his blessing, even life for evermore" (Ps.133:3). Through worship, corporate prayer, teaching and preaching of the word of God for the enhancement of understanding and inspiration of the willingness and readiness to act in line through the help of the Holy Spirit. This is the way it was done in the days of Moses, Nehemiah, Jesus our Lord and even in the days of the apostles. Faith comes only by hearing the word of God preached and taught, with understanding (Rom.10:17) and this is the place of pastors, preachers and the like according to Eph.4:11-16. So the fact remains that the Church as it is today is drifting away from scriptural teachings and there is need for caution, especially on the part of the so called new generation ministers.

Ptr Dewi

commented on Jan 17, 2015

The church is the people of God, not the place where they meet, nor the style of meeting. Furthermore, we might notice that the believers in the New Testament largely continued to attend the temple for liturgical Jewish worship, but then had home fellowships and Bible studies which were the living equipping for their daily faith. As believers surely worship Sundays or on any other occasions should either be an equipping for service or an opportunity of serving in witness and evangelism or both. The pulpit is thereby only a tool to serve these purposes, it is not a shrine, and it can be moveable. It is not a fence to hide behind, nor a pinnacle to shout down from, it is only a channel to equip the saints, and if it fails in that - throw it away!

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