Changes in Preaching

Hugh Litchfield  |  Southwestern Journal of Theology Vol. 42 - Summer 2000

Worship has undergone significant changes in the last quarter of the twentieth century. This issue of the journal highlights many of the changes.

Naturally, such changes have impacted the place of preaching in worship. Just as the shape and design of worship has taken new turns, so has the understanding of the place of preaching in worship. Both as a pastor and then a seminary professor, I have witnessed many of these changes. I have also been an active participant in some of them. This paper will be an attempt to document some of the major changes that have occurred.

One word of explanation. During the past twenty-five years, the field of homiletics has undergone some significant revolutions. Ideas about what preaching involves and what makes a good biblical sermon have flooded the study of preaching. It would be interesting to discuss all of these significant changes in preaching, but that would go beyond the scope of this paper. While I will be touching upon some of these changes, I cannot deal with them in depth. That waits for another paper.

What have been the most significant changes in the relationship between preaching and worship?

Change in the prominence of preaching in worship

How much a part does preaching play in worship? That has been a continuing debate for many years. Franklin Segler, who taught worship at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has characterized the debate:

There have been two extreme attitudes toward preaching in worship. The sacramentalists have often rejected the place of preaching in favor of the sacraments. Martin Luther deplored the lack   of preaching in the churches of his time, and he declared that the Christian congregation should never assemble except the Word of God be preached. The other extreme view is observed in those who have consumed the prayer, praise, and Bible reading as the “hor d’oeuvres,” prior to the meat of the Scriptures in the sermon. So much emphasis has been placed on the sermon that the significance of the other parts of worship has been obscured. Some people in the Free Churches think of the other elements of a worship service as mere “preliminaries” to the sermon. A sermon must never be considered alone-the prayer and the praise will have their influence.[1]Franklin M. Segler, Understanding, Preparing for, and Practicing Christian Worship (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996), 113.

For years, at least within evangelical circles, when you thought about worship, you thought about preaching. Often preaching and worship were synonymous. Persons would frequently ask, “Are you going to preaching?” When they asked that, they were referring to the worship service. The other parts of worship-music, scripture, offering, prayers-were considered the “preliminaries” to the act of preaching. You endured the rest of the service to get to   what mattered most-the sermon. After a worship service that consisted mainly of a choral concert, a layperson said afterwards, “It is just not a worship service without a sermon.” That is a view that many have held and many still hold.

That perception of preaching is changing. Part of the renewal of worship has been the emphasis that the sermon makes its best contribution when it is integrated with the rest of the service. The purpose of worship is to worship God, not to listen to a sermon. This is not to devalue the importance of preaching. John Killinger, in his book, The Centrality of Preaching in the Total Task of the Ministry, wrote:

There is no substitute for preaching in worship. It provides the proclamatory thrust without which the church is never formed and worship is never made possible. It complements the creedal, poetic nature of the liturgy and keeps before men the absolute contemporaneity of the gospel, as of a Word made always present and personal to them under the pressure of their current life-situations. It sharpens our perception for the mystery of Communion, which properly climaxes all Christian worship, and it thereby makes possible a true and meaningful sacramentalism. It forbids mere ritualism and automatism in the service by continually inserting into worship the presence of a new and unique word, one which is never quite the same again when preached in another setting or published in a compendium of sermons. Above all, it provides better than anything else the necessary encounter between the lackadaisical worshiper and the intensity of Christ’s lordship. It, of all the elements in the liturgy, is primary, for it and it alone is able to guarantee the success of Christian worship and the Christian sacraments.[2]John Killinger, The Centrality of Preaching in the Total Task of the Ministry (Waco: Word Books, 1969), 51.

This is high praise for preaching. Preaching has a major part to play in worship as it enables the congregation to offer themselves in praise and thanksgiving to God and to be open to the voice of God in the moment. It is important, but so are the other elements of worship. Scripture, prayer, offering, and music all serve that same purpose. In In and For the World, Paul Brown offers this reminder:

Yet preaching is not the only part of the liturgy in which God works. One of the benefits of the ecumenical liturgical renewal movement is that segments of the church that once thought of the sermon as the centerpiece of the liturgy-in relation to which other liturgical acts were almost peripheral-are now coming to appreciate how all the components of a worship liturgy can serve as channels of God’s creative activity and, conversely, that communions in the sacramentalist tradition are coming to appreciate more the place of the sermon in liturgy.[3]Paul B. Brown, In and For the World (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), 22.

Preaching serves worship, not the other way around.

That is the new understanding of the place of preaching in worship. The result of this has been a reduction of prominence of preaching in the worship service, both as to time and to its importance to worship. Ron Allen, who teaches preaching at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana, has noted that

The sermon draws from preceding elements of the service and contributes to the flow of subsequent parts. The language of the liturgy can inform the sermon. The language of the sermon can inform the language of the liturgy. Language can help wed pulpit and table.[4]Ronald J. Allen, Interpreting the Gospel (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 1998), 29.

Overall, this is a good change. Worship is the major activity of the church and the emphasis on its importance has been helpful. Preaching will always be an important aspect of focusing the lives of the people on God. However, it is not the only part of worship that does that. God speaks to persons in many different ways, and any element of worship can be the means through which God comes alive anew. In fact, as Fred Craddock stated, “Apart from worship the preacher’s sermons can also become arrogant and boastful, as if to say, ‘These people came to see and hear me.’ But a well-conceived and well-ordered service of worship expects more from a sermon and usually gets it.”[5]Fred B. Craddock, Preaching (Nashville: Abiugdon Press, 1985), 42.

A positive outcome of this change is that preaching can center itself around a major theme of worship and contribute to a more unified approach to the worship experience. No longer will the preacher preach on throwing all the whiskey in the river and then the congregation will sing for a final hymn, “Shall We Gather At the River?” “A well planned sermon will take advantage of everything that hap­ pens during the worship service, building on the hymns and prayers to lead people to an encounter with God and a sense of commitment that will change their lives.”[6]John Killinger, “Preaching and Worship,” Handbook of Contemporary Preaching Michael Duduit, ed. (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), 441. If that happens, worship will be meaningful.

Change in the length of sermons

One of the results of the new balance between the elements in worship is the fact that sermons have gotten shorter. Jokes about long sermons have always been the stock and trade of the laity. Such stories have some basis in fact. Tales abound about the one to three hour sermons of the Puritans. Revival preachers of yore have been known to carry on well over an hour. When I was growing up, sermons of thirty to forty-five minutes seemed to be standard fare. Even today, there are many worship services in which sermons consume that much time.

Today, however, sermons have decreased in length. It is not uncommon for sermons to take only about fifteen minutes of an hour-long worship service. John Killinger remarks:

In many churches, the old 30-or 45-minute sermon of 50 years ago has given way to a 15- or 20-minute sermon today, and this in itself has altered the character of the presentation. There is no longer time for the elaborate development of complex sermon themes or the narration of several stories in the course of the sermon. Now the sermon must be sharply defined from the outset; the preacher must introduce it succinctly and effectively; and the development must be quick, clear, and to the point. Illustrations must be relatively short and the conclusion or call to commitment must be swift and efficient, without the emotionalism and lingering appeal of the old evangelistic style.[7]Ibid., 437.

The reasons for this are many. One is the fact mentioned above concerning the emphasis on the importance of all the elements of worship. Preaching must give away some of its time m order to let the other elements have their part to play. If you include more music, more responsive readings, more prayers, there will be less time for preaching.

Robert Young, a Presbyterian pastor, wrote a book entitled, Be Brief About It, in which he emphasized the idea that time is of importance in our day and people do not want to waste it. He comments:

We are a nation on the run. Better to recognize this in preaching than to tilt at the windmill of the American experience. We preach in an environment where time is of the essence. Therefore, a minister entering the pulpit should write at the top of the manuscript, “I ain’t got long to stay here.” To be conscious of time, to realize that something weighty must be said in a set period of time, is a first step to relevant preaching. The very idea of brevity conjures up crisp words, tight language, orderly arrangement, deft illustration. The congregation reinforces this idea and prods us to brevity. They won’t tolerate sermons that get up at the crack of noon. “Up-on with it-sit down” is the silent order they give us.[8]Robert D. Young, Be Brief About It (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1980), 19.

One argument for shorter sermons is, of course, the reduced attention span of people who are conditioned by the electronic media. The public speaker, even the preacher, may have difficulty holding an audience beyond fifteen minutes; the longest space between commercials on television is about fourteen minutes. Many preachers have adjusted the length of their sermons to this fact.[9]Charles L. Rice, The Embodied Word (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991), 86.

In a culture where people get their news summed up, where political campaigns are run through quick thirty-second sound bites, where television programs are interrupted quite frequently by ads that give the mind a rest, listening to a long sermon will not be welcomed. Hearers who have trouble sitting still for any length of time expect the truth to be given to them simply and quickly. The attitude of many was expressed by the deacon who opined, “If a preacher can’t say what needs to be said in twenty minutes, there is something the matter with that preacher.”

It is true this is a restless, busy generation. While there are always exceptions to the rule, most people will not easily sit through long, drawn-out sermons. Shorter sermons will probably be the way of the future. That does not mean this is always a positive. An old adage says that “sermonettes create christianettes.” Sadly, the only time many will come into contact with biblical knowledge is in Sunday morning worship. Lessening the time for preaching the scripture in worship could result in missed opportunities to strengthen biblical understanding. Increasing understanding of the Christian faith is one of the major challenges for preaching in the new century. If sermons are shorter, the amount of information that can be communicated will be decreased.

If sermons do become shorter, preachers will need to take greater care to prepare and deliver effective sermons. However, we need to understand that the length of a sermon does not always determine its effectiveness. Ronald Allen makes these insightful comments:

I sometimes read and hear preachers say that the electronic media have reduced the attention span of the contemporary congregation. Today’s people, they say, cannot stay with a preacher who talks too long. I differ. People are quite willing to participate for long periods of time when the sermon makes an important connection between the gospel and their worlds, especially when the preacher is lively. Fred Craddock, for instance, seldom preaches for less than thirty minutes. Afterward, congregations marvel that so much time passes. Lyle Schaller, who studies congregations in great detail, finds that in a significant segment of congregations that are growing in faith and numbers, sermons are in the 30-40 minute range.

I do not argue for longer sermons. I simply point out that the length of the sermon cannot be determined by formula.[10]Allen, 247.

I agree with that assessment. A twenty-minute sermon could be as boring as ever, while a sermon that lasts an hour can be riveting. The content of the sermon, the images in the sermon, the presentation of the sermon-these are the factors that enable sermons to be meaningful. Whatever the length, preachers should strive to make every word and paragraph powerful. The Holy Spirit will always use sermons, especially those prepared and presented well.

Changes in the design of sermons

In the periodical Preaching, pastor Mark Abbott commented on his struggle with preaching:

I started preaching thirty years ago. Back then, I attacked Biblical passages with hammer and chisel, working to break them open into identifiable segments, which could then be arranged in   a rational and psychologically appropriate order. I dressed up the outline with illustrations along with additional supporting materials. I even analyzed psalms and stories, dividing them into three or four “points.” The expository outline was the big thing ..!

As I began to hear and read about narrative preaching and inductive preaching, I started to recognize the breadth of literary genre in the Scriptures, demanding varied approaches to shaping the sermon. I also came to recognize that, whether I liked it or not, “reasons why” didn’t seem to matter as much as an “experience of’ and “feeling good about.”

These days the homiletical pendulum has swung a long way from the linear/rational/ deductive model. Many preaching theorists discount, even deride the analytical, propositional approach I used to work with most. Many pro­ pose an approach to structure that is inductive, organic, and which more closely follows the shape of the Biblical passage. The realization that Scripture is largely narrative in form and should be handled accordingly has led preachers to major in story, and not just “illustrations,” dropped into sermon development to “shed light” on abstractions.[11]Mark Abbott, “Should Preaching Teach?” Preaching (July-August, 1999), 24.

His statements point out an important truth. By far the major change in preaching during the last quarter century has been the shape or design of the sermon. For a long time sermons were patterned after a logical, deductive approach. Many sermons were verse by verse expositions of a text. It was very logical and orderly. As the saying goes, “tell them what you are going to say, say it, and then tell them what you said.” People could bring their note pads to church and gather a lot of information from the sermon. Sermons presented a great deal of exegetical, biblical information. The hope was to “get the point across.” The major question after a sermon was, “What idea did you get out of it?” If you learned the truth of the text and sought to act upon it, the sermon had been effective.

However, during the 1970s there was a change in thinking. Homileticians such as Fred Craddock, Eugene Lowry, and Gregg Lewis brought up the concept of “inductive” preaching. This method sought to understand how people heard the sermon and sought to pattern a sermon so hearers might participate in it. Instead of starting with a biblical truth and then relating it to the congregation, inductive preaching starts with a human need or experience and then relates that to the Bible. The thesis of the sermon is not   given in the introduction of the sermon, but in the conclusion. Hearers are involved in a search for truth, a truth dis­ covered as the sermon comes to a close. For example, a deductive sermon would start out by asserting that, like David, with God’s help we can defeat our giants. In the inductive sermon, the facing of giants would be presented and the sermon would then explore how such giants could   be conquered. In the conclusion they would discover that they can defeat their giants with God’s help. The main question after an inductive sermon would not be the idea one learned, but what experience had been gained.

With the coming of the inductive approach to preaching, new sermon types arose, types like narrative, story, illustration sermons. In worship, preachers deviated from the teaching format and began to experiment with new ways of embodying the sermon. Dialogue sermons were presented, with two or more persons interacting during the preaching moment. Dramatic monologues developed in which the preacher would play the role of a biblical character, often dressing up like that character. Sermons arose that were enhanced by the use of drama or visual aids, like slides or clips of movies. Sermons often became more dramatic as the preacher became a storyteller, weaving plot and characters and action into a sermon. Congregations no longer were exposed to only one type of sermon design, but variety became the spice of the worship hour.

These different sermon designs brought about changes in worship. Space would have to be provided for drama and for others who might participate in a dialogue sermon. Often laypersons would have to be trained to help aid the preaching moment. The other elements of worship needed to be adapted to the type of sermon to be presented.

Such changes have not been negative. There is a need to continue to develop different approaches to communicating the message. The last word on the best type of sermon has not yet been spoken. God speaks through many voices. But   I would caution preachers about being too quick to discard the deductive approach to sermons. The deductive sermon can still be an effective means for preaching. In fact, some biblical material-such as the letters of Paul-may be best preached deductively. A lot more determines the value of a sermon than its design. Delivery, word usage, relevant material, the relationship of the pastor and people, and the other elements of the worship service-all of these factors enter into the equation. Variety is the spice of life, and it can enhance a worship service by providing different approaches to planning a service each Sunday.

Change in the physical place of preaching

Since from around the third century, the pulpit has been a major piece of worship furniture. Preaching was done from behind it. The pulpit was a symbol of the importance of the preaching of the word. In the Baptist church, the pulpit was usually placed in the center of the worship altar, denoting the centrality of the preaching of the word. The philosophy of preaching, as Al Fasol of Southwestern Seminary has phrased it, was to “maximize the message and minimize the messenger.”[12]Al Fasol, A Guide to Self-Improvement in Sermon Delivery (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983), 5. Kenton Anderson, who teaches Applied Theology at Northwest Baptist College and Seminary, states it well:

The central position of a fixed pulpit is thought to suggest a theological prominence about the preaching of the Word of God. It is thought that somehow, the furniture represents the authority of Scripture in a visible and tangible way. Many churches offer a “lectern” for liturgical readings so that the pulpit can be kept solely for the high purpose of preaching. It is, therefore, not without pause that the preacher abandons the sacred desk.[13]Kenton C. Anderson, “The Place of the Pulpit,” Preaching (July-August, 1999), 24.

That philosophy has changed. More and more, preachers are coming out from behind the pulpit. Many preachers walk back and forth across the stage as they preach. Some even walk into the congregation. Many churches have eliminated the pulpit altogether. With the coming of multipurpose worship centers, many opt to preach without a pulpit or from a small lectern. Even the “look” of the pulpit has changed, such as a transparent pulpit that enables you to see more of the preacher.

Are the changes good for preaching? The debate rages on. Some feel this move devalues the importance of the message and places more importance on the messenger. Fred Craddock has said, “the pulpit reminds me that I am one of a long line of people whom the church has called to preach and teach. It’s a humbling thing to approach the pulpit. With no pulpit, I come on stage, and I am the center.”[14]John R. Throop, “Pulpits: A Place to Take Your Stand,” Your Church 44 (March/April, 1998), 48. It does seem comforting to realize that preachers stand within the long tradition of the preaching of the Word. It was going on before we came on the scene, and it will be going on long after we are gone. What is most important is the Word, and not the one who brings it. As   one who basically stands behind the pulpit when preaching, I am troubled by the phrase “hiding behind the pulpit.” I do not see myself as hiding behind the pulpit. Instead, I feel honored to “stand behind” it, to stand in the tradition of almost two thousand years of preaching. What a privilege to be allowed to do that.

Others feel just as strongly that leaving the pulpit makes a strong symbolic statement. Kenton Anderson adds his view to the discussion:

The preacher who walks out from behind the pulpit offers a nonverbal affirmation of interest in and proximity to the people. Contemporary audiences are little inclined to respect authority (clerical collars, pulpits). Today’s listeners will commit to a preacher who attracts them relationally. By coming out from behind the pulpit the preacher is saying “I like you. I want to be close to you as we talk about these things. You can trust me.[15]Anderson, 24.

Many preachers point out that their parishioners comment on the ability to see all of the preacher. Body language is a major part of nonverbal communication and some feel the more you see of the body, the better. Opponents of this approach point out that the majority of gestures take place from the waist up, gestures that can be just as effective standing behind the pulpit. One wonders what gestures take place from the waist down that will aid communication? Proponents argue that in our TV-saturated society, information is given, personally and directly without “pulpits” in front of them. As one has said, “It’s hard to imagine Jay Leno doing his monologue from behind a pulpit.”[16]Ibid.

So the debate rages. As a teacher of homiletics, I encourage students to remember that if they move from behind the pulpit, seek to have movement with purpose. Any movement without purpose can be distracting. Arthur Hopkins, in talking about an actor’s work, has commented:

I eliminate all gesture that is not absolutely needed, all unnecessary inflections and intonations, the tossing of heads, the flickering of fans and kerchiefs, the tapping of feet, drumming of fingers, swinging of legs, pressing of brows, holding of hearts, curling of moustaches, stroking of beards, and all the million and one tricks that have crept into the actor’s bag, all of them betraying one of two things-an annoying lack of repose, or an attempt to attract attention to him- self and away from the play.[17]Arthur Hopkins, How’s Your Second Act? (New York: Samuel French, 1948), 14-15.

That is not bad advice for the preacher. In the end, do they remember us or the message? Will the movement help communicate the message? That is the important question. Some preachers are effective behind the pulpit, some away from it. A good word to hear is from Jana Childers in her book, Performing the Word: Preaching as Theater:

Of course the more of the preacher’s body that is visible to the congregation, the more important is its use in preaching and the more important respect for the body. However, there are few con­ temporary preachers who are not being pressed to “come out from the pulpit” more. As congregational expectations about and general appreciation for the importance of visual communication continue to increase, fewer and fewer preachers will find it satisfying or effective to limit their nonverbal range to head and eye movement.[18]Jana Childers, Performing the Word: Preaching as Theater (Nashville: Abingdon Press 1998), 116.

Each preacher must decide what to do. Each position makes important points. How can the message be best communicated in your situation? That is always the most important question.

Changes in delivery styles

During the last century, there has been a significant change in the way a sermon is delivered, or embodied, as many new homiliticians express it. In the past sermons were often preached in a strong oratorical style, often impressing others with their eloquence. Sermons were often what persons listened to and admired. Preaching was an act the preacher did. Delivery skills were important. Congregations were “overwhelmed” by the ability of the preacher to use words, volume, rate, and gestures to bring home the message. Preachers were admired for their delivery skills.

In later years the emphasis has shifted to a more “conversational” style of preaching. This is like a conversation, more personal, more direct, more engaging. Dr. Gordon Clinard said in his preaching classes at Southwestern Seminary that preaching was “conversation lifted to the pulpit.” What a preacher does is seek to have a conversation   with one person from the pulpit. If 500 more persons over­ hear that conversation, well and good. The image for the preacher, however, is to visualize talking to one person across the table, trying to convince that one of the truth of the message. In such a conversation, personal pronouns are permitted. Exact English grammar is not a requirement. It is all right to have a split infinitive or a dangling participle as long as it gets the message across. One notes the reaction of the conversational partner and seeks to respond to those reactions. If they look confused, the preacher may need to go back and restate some ideas. If they look bored, the preacher may need to spice up the delivery. If they look like they have gotten the point, then the preacher can move on quickly. Preaching models a conversation.

Conversational delivery seeks to deflect the criticism that people do not like to be “preached at.” Too many feel that preaching has been an attempt to fuss at them, to yell at   them, to tell them what to do. Most rebel today against that kind of approach. Instead, they want preachers who will take them seriously, treat them with sensitivity, listen to their opinions. They do not want to be “talked down to,” but “talked with.” They want to feel that they can have a dialogue with the preacher-a conversation.

In response to that, preachers have come out of the pulpit and sought to have a personal conversation with the congregation. Some even walk among the people, looking them directly in the eyes. Sanctuaries have been designed “in the round,” with preachers standing in the middle of the congregation, seeking to give the impression they are one among them. Some preachers encourage response from the hearers, asking questions and building off their responses. Some preachers even involve the laity in their sermons, with other persons speaking parts of the sermon.

The image of the preacher ascending the tall pulpit in Moby Dick and “blasting away” at the hearers from his   perch above them is fast disappearing from the worship scene. Instead, you now have the preacher who quietly seeks to have an important conversation with another. The positive result from this is that the preacher seems more approachable, more gentle, more personable. The preacher speaks as one among them and preaches to them, not “at” them. The involvement of the hearer is taken seriously. The pulpit in worship is no longer seen as an impregnable fortress, behind which an unreachable preacher hurls down rules for living. Instead, the pulpit becomes a place where the preaching of the gospel becomes a conversation between partners, where both seek to discover the truth of God in the midst of life. In fact, in both smaller and larger churches today, talk-back sermons are being introduced as a way of getting people to respond to God’s word. As Robert Webber describes it:

The minister will ask, “What did you hear, see, feel, or experience through the reading of Scripture and the sermon?” The people then turn to one another and respond. This kind of participation gets people involved in the spoken Word in more than an incidental way. It asks them how their lives can be transformed by the Word of God, which is the objective of the Service of the Word! Consequently, a response to the Word helps the worshiper to focus on his or her need for change and to make a resolve that results in spiritual growth and maturation.[19]Robert Webber, Planning Blended Worship (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998), 103.

Just a word about the “seeker services” that have become popular. This is a different kind of worship service than a normal morning worship service for believers.

Seeker services are an evangelistic strategy. They are designed to introduce the gospel to persons who have never made an affirmation of faith or have drifted away from the Christian faith or community. The seeker service is for people who are seeking a more meaningful life. The service uses contemporary approaches to suggest ways the gospel can satisfy that longing. Some ministers and theologians criticize seeker services as “theology-lite.” The critique is sometimes correct. However, it needs to be balanced by the awareness that the seeker service intends to be a port of entry into the gospel. It offers the gospel as a promising possibility that the seeker can explore more fully in other settings. Congregations with seeker services need to provide full­ bodied worship. They also need to offer a range of learning opportunities to introduce seekers more fully into Christian faith and life.[20]Allen, 33.

In such services, preaching is more informal, very conversational, seeking to connect with those who may not even   be familiar with a sermon. In many such services there will be no pulpit or many of the symbols often found in a church worship service.

The variety in the style of sermon presentation will continue in the days ahead. However, it might be helpful to heed the words of Ralph Martin in his book, The Worship of God.

To be sure, there may be variations of what may be called the traditional mode of preaching, namely, “one person elevated above the congregation, delivering a speech without interruption, and appealing chiefly to the cerebral.” Discussion sermons, dialogue formats of a question-and­ answer type, dramatic presentations with or with­ out visual aids, enacted sermons based on a sacred dance or mime-all these have been and are still being tested, with varying results. Nonetheless, the time-fashioned role of the pulpit in terms of a single voice, articulating God’s word in modern idiom and intentionally seeking to move the congregation to action is still with us, and its future seems as certain as that of institutional Christianity.[21]Ralph P. Martin, The Worship of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 119.

As we enter into the new century, no one can accurately predict what the shape worship or preaching will finally

Be. In my judgment; worship and preaching will continue to be flexible, adapting to the needs of the time. In the final analysis, change is really a neutral act. Whether it is good or bad depends upon the end result of the change. Will the changes in worship help persons experience the presence of God in a vital and life-changing way? Will the changes in preaching enhance the communication of God’s truth?

Through the worship and preaching of the church, will the gospel of Christ spread across this world in a more powerful way? If all of that happens, bring on the changes. Let us remain open to the possibilities that new approaches to preaching in worship may provide. Let us trust God to guide us to make those changes that will enhance the work of the kingdom.


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