The final word on Johnny and Preaching

T. David Gordon closes his book, Why Johnny Can’t Preach, with a chapter called “Teaching Johnny to Why Johnny Can't PreachPreach.”  While he thinks that the current situation is not good, neither is it hopeless. 

Incidentally, the recommendations he makes in this chapter and throughout the book apply to more than just preachers.  They apply to anyone with a desire to muster the courage to swim against the current in our media dominated culture and strive to be someone who can think and be fully human. 

Here are the final thoughts from the book:

Churches cannot continue to exact such a toll [75 hours per week or so] from their ministers while expecting them to preach well, because preaching well requires more than preparing sermons; it requires preparing oneself as the kind of human who has the sensibilities prerequisite to preaching.  An individual without time to read broadly and intensely, without time to reflect on life, without time to compose (even if merely in a personal journal), is not likely to be an individual who can preach.

Johnny is still fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image; and any particular Johnny could develop those sensibilities necessary to being a competent preacher.  Our culture, at this moment, will not develop those sensibilities, and so Johnny will cultivate them only if he makes some self-conscious and deliberately countercultural choices about how he wishes his sensibilities to be shaped.  My hope and prayer in writing this brief volume is that some will accept that responsibility, and begin or continue the process of shaping those sensibilities requisite to preaching well.

That reminds me of similar thoughts from E. M. Bounds in his little book Power Through Prayer which we had to read in Bible college. 

The treasure is in earthen vessels, and the taste of the vessel impregnates and may discolor.  The man, the whole man, lies behind the sermon.  Preaching is not the performance of an hour.  It is the outflow of a life.  It takes twenty years to make a sermon, because it takes twenty years to make the man. 

2 comments on “The final word on Johnny and Preaching

  1. Clay Conry says:

    Good words John. Thanks for the link, and the interest in helping me with this! I hope it was willingly I may have just assumed you would be interested! Sorry if I took advantage of you here!

    Lookin forward to Thursday!

  2. jsundberg says:

    You’re welcome, Clay. See you on Thursday.

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