I supposed I should qualify that title by acknowledging the existence of a lot of amazing problems with preaching (including my own failures that I enjoy ruminating on), but what follows is the particular problem bothering me at the moment.
My friend Shawn has been struggling with the practice of preaching on his social media platform, critiquing it as a contemporary church practice. He cites articles that note preaching, especially among millennials, is at its “lowest value in history” and makes mention of EGW quotes such as:
As we approach the end, I have seen that . . . there will be less preaching, and more Bible study. There will be little groups all over . . . with their Bibles in their hands, and different ones leading out in a free, conversational study of the Scriptures…This was the method that Christ taught His disciples (GW 408).
This isn’t to say that he is against preaching ; being a biblical and historical tradition it can’t be written off as wrong, evil, or unscriptural. Plus speech communication, whether it’s a critical presentation at work, a simple (albeit terrifying) speech for a high school class, lines in a play, or a YouTube vlog, won’t go out of style for a long time. People talk and will continue to talk publicly. To me the issue isn’t public speaking or it’s homiletical (preaching) form, it’s more questioning a communicative reality.
People just don’t seem to connect with sermons. Honestly, I don’t blame them.
Is it the content?
Kind of? There are cringe worthy messages reflecting either the presumption that the Spirit blesses a lack of study or unrecognized personal issues the preacher takes to the pulpit to beat his or her people over the head with. Also, every preacher has sermons that are the tragic victims of hasty exegesis or poor hermeneutics (biblical interpretation).
However the problem goes deeper than that…