I’ve noticed a trend in Christian television away from preaching as the mode of communication. I think that is good. Yes, I think that discovering, uncovering, producing and perfecting other ways of communicating the message of the kingdom is beneficial to our calling and commission to “disciple nations.” We should be producing excellent media presentations that inspire, influence, and impact our culture.
What I am not happy about is the trend to replace preaching with other modes of communication. I am concerned that we are a generation who does not fully grasp the uniqueness of preaching as a means and mode of communication.
Charisma magazine interviewed a media leader on the subject, and I thought the interview was very helpful. However, I remain concerned. Here is a quote I would like to analyze:
“There are many, but probably the most important is the understanding of the media itself. The first generation of Christian media leaders were mostly pastors or evangelists. As a result, they saw everything through the lens of preaching. That’s why for decades, preaching programs dominated religious media—both radio and TV. I love great preaching, but when it comes to the media, it’s not always the best method of sharing our message. That’s why I’ve spent my life educating pastors and ministry leaders about media platforms and how they work. As a result, today we’re seeing more Christians producing feature films, documentaries, music programs, short films and more. Plus, many Christian organizations are doing remarkable things online through websites, short videos and social media.”
Couched within these statements is a subtle thinking that media without preaching is an improvement on the delivery system of the message. I’m certain that isn’t what this man wants to say, but the thinking bleeds into these statements nonetheless. All these other ways of communicating are excellent. They reveal that the preaching has been successful! They do not reveal that the preaching requires better modes or methods: rather, that successful preaching produces additional, expanded, varied, and creative way of communicating the message that are not preaching.
He says that preaching is not always the best method of sharing the message. Yes, it is! It is God’s chosen way of communicating the Gospel, a method that is foolishness to the world, but a method that demonstrates the power of God.
God is anointing music, movies, dance, literature, poetry, and art of the whole spectrum of creativity. God is anointing communication methods and means of communication. Yes, I mean to use the word “anointing,” and I am doing so on purpose.
However, preaching is a unique mode of communication that demonstrates the power of God and should remain at the breakthrough point of our communication of the message. Preaching cannot be replaced or improved by other forms of communication.
In the article, a special consideration is given to Joyce Meyer for adapting her presentations of the message. I would applaud that consideration, but I would also point out that Joyce Meyer hasn’t stopped preaching, nor has her anointing teaching and writing replaced her preaching. Certainly, she teaches at times in a way that is different from preaching, talks and discusses issues and answers questions in a way that is different from teaching, but in the end the power of God uniques demonstrates when she is preaching even when people cannot tell the difference between this mode of communication and other methods.
Preaching Producers Influential Leaders
Good preaching should produce a generation that goes after every form of communication as a means of speaking the message. Good preaching should produce leaders in every area of culture, every mountain of culture as some describe the major influencers of any society. Good preaching should produce a spiritual generation that is dominated by the Word of the Lord.
However, all of this is a by-product of good preaching, not an improvement or replacement for it. The invasion of culture with influencers who impact that culture with kingdom principles is the result of God’s strategy of message communication. Preaching is unique and cannot be categorized with the activities of other communication methods for education, medicine, the arts and entertainment, sports, law and government, or family, for example.
For some of the leaders this article promotes as good examples, I would step back with hesitation because the trend toward replacing preaching with other modes of communication should not be seen or measured as an improvement on the communication of the message. They should be distinctly identified as valid ways of communicating the message to the culture because of the success of preaching. They should be anointed. They should produce influence, even the influence of winning souls, improving families and marriages, and benefitting people physically. But they shouldn’t be seen as improvements on preaching.
In other words, being a “motivation speaker” is fine, noble, helpful, valid, and consistent with the goal of God to touch every area of human life. It is not an improved communication style for preaching, however, and should not be confused with this unique mode of communication.
The Next Generation of Preaching
The next generation of preaching should not lose the fundamentals infused in it by Jesus and the first generation of the ecclesia. We haven’t outgrown preaching. We haven’t moved past this method in history. We haven’t found better way. We haven’t stopped looking and sounding odd because we speak truth in a conversational manner or give great speeches and motivational talks.
Preaching must remain the fountainhead of apostolic declaration and didache. Preaching must remain the first voice of the Gospel. Preaching must demonstrate the power of God in a unique way that produces faith in the power of God, not the wisdom and strength of man. Preaching must remain the strongest, most respected voice of the ecclesia.
Having said that, many ways of improving the presentation of preaching are available. Certainly, this generation has attention span issues because it was conditioned by television’s rhythms of commercial breaks, media presentations of movie pacing – conclusion of conflict and resolution of that conflict – an hour and a half church service forced into the same ebb and flow as the cinema. Taking these things into consideration isn’t wicked nor does it detract from the anointing of God.
However, a subtle substitution of media slickness in broadcasted ministry messages for the rawness of radical preaching will not give us an end result of greater impact on our culture. We need to vastly expand our message through every means while maintaining the ever-increasing presentation of God’s unique communication method. Preaching that demonstrates the power of God is still the best possible presentation of the Message.