Some excellent thoughts coming from the discussion in the last two posts (1 and 2) on preaching. I’m going to continue discussing preaching as valuable in postmodern contexts where we still have an audience. However, I believe this must not be reduced to the transfer of information, which it often is. If it does not lead to transformation it is a waste of all of our time. I’ve been guilty of this when I’ve spoken in the past.
Preaching through questions
I see preaching as a genre of communication of which there are many methods. It does not have to assume only the traditional role of an expert communicator pounding truth into their listeners. With postmodernity no longer subscribing to authority figures having all the right information, a more helpful form of preaching may be one where instead we “raise the right questions”. Although this may seem like a counter-intuitive way of delivering truth, if the gospel is in fact true, if we continue encouraging people to ask the right questions and seeking, the person of truth is where they will ultimately land. This process of discovery facilitates learning and more convicting answers for the postmodern audience.
A preaching dialogue?
Although the form of preaching can seem like a monologue, effective postmodern preaching cuts through the superficiality of the postmodern conversations and can actually launch a dialogue at the deepest levels. When a postmodern preacher can properly exegete the culture that it is communicating in, through the monologue one can actually draw out things that the listener dares not ask out loud. By being aware of the internal conversations of the audience, a preacher can have a very effective dialogue through the preaching monologue. This cultivates a sense of safety and understanding for the preacher. Taking this one step further, the conversation when effectively facilitated can become a trialogue where both the preacher and the listener together interact with what God maybe saying through the Scriptures, the Spirit, or even Creation itself.
Another form in which preaching can take shape is through storytelling. The language of the postmodern culture is image rich and desperately lacking a coherent storyline. God’s story is “an intranarrative” connecting all people can be very appealing. Although a single grand story may appear exclusive, what if we invited people to universal story that can incorporate their own story? Are there ways in the preaching moment where we can allow people to immediately begin participating jointly in the greatest developing story ever told?