18 Church Trends (and More!): Trend 15

Continuing my highly derivative series on church trends, the next six are from Carey Nieuwhof’s post 6 Disruptive Church Trends That Will Rule 2017.

Trend 15: Preaching Will Fuse Both The Head And The Heart

I believe the most effective preachers in the future will be those who fuse the head and the heart in their preaching. …

Information alone doesn’t bring about transformation. Preaching to the head can lead to a changed mind, but not a changed life. …

Preaching only to the heart creates emotional followers, whose faith rises and falls with their feelings.
The goal, of course, is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

Preaching that reflects that goal will connect far better.

I’m no expert in preaching. The technical term is homiletics. And oddly enough, our educational programs for preachers are often very weak on homiletics. We teach plenty of Greek and lots of theology — but a motivated, bright minister ought to be able to read commentaries and books on theology for himself. It seems to me that the help he needs is how to use the pulpit to the greatest and best effect. And yet the typical Bible major may only have a three-hour course in preaching — even though the graduates are going to be hired, evaluated, paid, and retained (or not) based on how well they preach. Because it matters.

Now, we’ve inherited a pulpit model borrowed from universities and other schools where the preacher is the source of superior Bible knowledge, and the sermon is the primary means of transmitting Bible knowledge from the expert to the pewsitter. And this will no longer do.

First, because of the Internet and Amazon, many members will be more theologically knowledgeable than the preacher. A four-year Bible degree — even with an M.Div. tacked on — does not necessarily make him the best Bible scholar in church. For that matter, those people who really want to understand a book of the Bible can find more information in 10 minutes on the Internet than the preacher can possibly cover in a 5-part series.

Second, why is information transmittal even the goal? Why doesn’t the preacher instead acquaint the members with great resources on, say, spiritual formation? Why not initiate internal conversations about the mission of the church? Why not help the members share their God-experiences? Their answered prayers? The way God has worked in their lives? Maybe the preacher serves best as a coordinator of communications among the members?

Just an idea …

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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5 Responses to 18 Church Trends (and More!): Trend 15

  1. David Himes says:

    In my view, you have identified the central problem with the large majority of preaching today. Most preachers today seem to think it’s imperative they share everything they’ve studied in the past week, rather than inspiring the audience to pursue God in their individual lives.

    Oh well … hope springs eternal.

    But then to reach this goal, we have to become less pre-occupied with doctrinal uniformity.

  2. Dwight says:

    Jay, the answer to all of your questions is “tradition”. Tradition is why we have a preacher in the first place in the pulpit instead of the elders speaking. This tradition allows others to sit back not seek God through the scriptures for themselves after all they have a ‘bible knowledge dispenser” at church. And the preacher realizes he has this power and/or responsibility and thus fulfills it. All the while the people that the preacher preaches to actually becomes less able to discern God’s will when they are told God’s will.
    And then there is the example of people who are assembled listening to someone preach to them and thus it is a command.
    The more and more I compare those that preached and our preachers the more I see a huge gap.

    First, of all the preachers were compelled to preach without a home church and without a pay check. Jesus sent his apostles out without money depending upon the kindness of others and this is seen in work after the day of Pentecost as well.

    Second, those preachers in the letters appear to either be an apostle or have had the laying on of hands by one. They spoke with authority despite not having the NT in writing form.

    Third, the pulpit makes the preacher. A preacher today is anyone who the elders or congregation trust to fill the pulpit and the trust is usually built on a resume. As Jay noted there are often more qualified people who know more in the pews.

    Fourth, preachers are like fish in a bowl, that is sphere and their world. They care about what happens in the church and it’s growth. They want people to bring others in, more than they want to mentally equip others to teach others. As David notes, they inspire those in attendance to be better worshippers, but fail in “inspiring the audience to pursue God in their individual lives.”

    I’m not against preachers, but we need to understand their limits and possible strengths.
    I truly believe that a preachers job in an assembly should be to preach themselves out of a job in the assembly so that they can focus on the world and growing the Kingdom.

  3. Eric Thomas says:

    Sounds interesting. So the preacher position would become involvement/education minister and for that matter you could choose from an endless supply of great messages on video or online to share with the congregation. A lot of mega churches video cast their sermons from the main campus and replay them for multiple services. They seem to be doing fine. You could post sermons online and offer an application like this one for comments . A great way to get feedback from your church and expand on the message. You may need a thick skin for that if you happen to be the speaker.

  4. Jim H says:

    Poor preachers. Every person in the pews has an opinion on what the preacher should be doing or saying, but many, if not most, rarely open their bibles except on Sundays. So, did God get it wrong choosing preaching and preachers as his primary way of reaching the lost with his gospel message. No, I’m not a preacher and do not have family members who are preachers. It’s a tough job with a rather poor outlook on job security.

  5. Dwight says:

    John H, the job of the preacher in the NT was to bring the word to man, that very word that each of us has access to. Preachers today correlate information into topics and offer commentary on the word of God when they preach in the assembly, something we all can do. Most preachers spend most of their time in the assembly instead of pounding the pavement going from place to place, city to city, town to town.

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