Why Johnny Can’t Preach

I just finished an interesting book entitled, Why Johnny Can’t Preach by T. David Gordon (published by P&R, 2009).  Gordon believes that part of the explanation for such poor preaching in American pulpits today is due to the manner by which the electronic media has shaped those who are called to preach. 

While I do not agree with everything, Gordon does make some good observations. Here is one that is especially pertinent:   “People may very well have a reduced attention span, but even so, they have no difficulty giving attention to a discourse they deem important and well organized” (30).  We (preachers) need to be reminded that it is not always the congregation’s fault for not being engaged during a sermon.  Sometimes (many times according to Gordon) we are just plain boring and that is our fault and not our people’s.  

One of his ideas that needs to be advanced is an annual review of ministers.  Gordon calls for an annual review (97) in an effort to strengthen the pulpit ministry. It does seem strange that almost everyone in the work force has to endure a yearly performance review (even professors).  However, assessment of preachers has yet made its way into the church.  While I understand the pitfalls and the fright associated with such a concept, it would seem that based on the importance of our message we should be the first to assess (objectively) the impact of our messages on a regular basis.

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