Does Preaching Have a Future?
A homiletics professor offers 14 thoughts on the future of preaching in the American church.
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 quicker 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 from preacher to listener.
These are key “incarnational” aspects to preaching that are being stretched.