Preaching is in trouble today, and that statement could be made across many other eras. In fact, one of the triggers for the work and publication of “On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons,” by John Broads was just that realization!
What is more tricky to establish is that “It does not know that it is in trouble!” Regardless of the scoreboard and benchmark indicators, most speakers and therefore preachers believe that they are doing just fine.
These are but a smattering of the deluge of articles about the Christian attendance scorecards . . . . all written within the last two years or less.
If you believe that the benchmark of church attendance is not related to preaching, ask yourself why some preachers and churches experience amazing highs in attendance?
√ Yes … bigger is not necessarily better.
√ Attendance numbers do not equate with commitment or faithfulness.
√ Yes, some churches are located in very sparsely populated areas.
√ Indeed, there is a difference between a church and a crowd.
√ There are many distractions that pull people away from attending.
√ Preaching is not the only reason people attend (but maybe why they don’t attend).
Nevertheless, the point I am making is that people will come out to hear an effective communicator — secular or sacred!
If you believe that the scoreboard which reflects a declining Sunday church attendance is not related to effective communication, ask yourself why some preachers and/or speakers attract huge crowds?
Is it because people will not come out to hear a good-to-great communicator? I think not!
Can you build a church on good preaching? Almost!
The point I am making is that . . . .
√ effective communicators can and do draw an audience.
√ people will come out to hear a good-to-great speaker.
√ people in American culture are not averse to attending and listening to “speeches.”
√ a speaker can attract a “hugely” crowd to listen.
√ some preachers attract amazing crowds week after week — for a reason.
Why then is church attendance declining?
It must be because . . . .
“Real biblical preaching is inherently dull, by God’s design!”
“People don’t want to hear the truth these days.”
” ‘Expository preaching’ doesn’t attract audiences”
“Speaking to the felt and real needs of people is not what we are called to do.”
Some readers will respond with various disparaging explanations. However, any and all explanations still point to this stark reality . . . . People will & do come out to hear an effective communicator! — even if that is all you believe about this or that particular preacher.1
People will & do come out
to hear an effective communicator!
One of the main problems with the local church today — not the only and maybe not #1 — are too many ineffective preachers . . . .
• who do not give meaningful attention to developing their communication skills.
• who drag the audience through each and every word of the passage, when the truth of the passage is obvious.
• who drag the audience through every verse and related cross-references instead of focusing on driving that truth home to the mind and heart.
• who were never called to the preaching ministry as supported by the reality that they are not “apt to teach.”
How many preachers-teachers are self-convinced that they are effective biblical communicators, even though they are not! Because there
Where are those who have both a mastery of theology along with communication skills who have the right to speak of the dissatisfaction of the thousands upon thousands who sit in the pew every Sunday — sporadically or faithfully.
Does anyone have the right to speak up without being told — “It is all a matter of taste and/or opinion?
Do we go through another generation of self-evaluating preachers-teachers who are convinced that their mediocre-to-terrible preaching is good-to-great?
I say . . .
• It does not take a vocational professional to identify a good-to-great message.
• There are clear indicators of weak-to-poor preaching, and attendance is one of the indicators.
• You can build a church on good-to-great preaching.
• Sitting under poor-to-terrible preaching is not one of the sufferings God’s people were meant to endure as saints.
• “Average” can become “good.”
• Some may be called to ministry, but not the pulpit ministry.
• Good-to-great & mediocre-to-terrible preaching is not a mere matter of opinion.
• Speaking ability can be seen and even taught.
Who gets to decide if you are a good communicator?
How about the listeners by voting every week on a Sunday morning !
— or even more, on a Sunday evening! —
Other Information & Links:
1. People will and do take the time to hear an effective communicator!
• The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans can be heard on more than 1,400 US outlets daily
• Andy Stanley’s attendance on a Sunday morning reaches upward to 22,000!
• Alistair Begg has pastored Parkside since 1983, and its current size of over 5000 people.
• John Mac Arthur experiences over 8,000 in weekly attendance.
• Over 1,600 attend on Sunday morning to hear Crawford Loritts.
• Thousands attended to hear Adrian Rogers speak at Bellevue Baptist
I have heard it stated that approximately . . . . .
- 90-95% of all churches in America average less than 100 in worship attendance.
- 4-5% of all churches in America average between 100 and 350 in attendance.
- 1-2% of all churches in America average more than 350 in attendance.
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