The Sermon is dead, long live the preach

There seems to have been a thread of thought developing recently among the youthwork quadrant of blogdom regarding preaching and it’s role. Tim asked
Is the tool of preaching irrelevant to this generation?”
Good question!
Communication, teaching/learning, preaching and the like has long interested me, both from a theoretical and practical point of view. So, *warning* I can see a few days being devoted to the subject so if it doesn’t light your fire then have the rest of the week off!
For what it’s worth I’d say the “Sermon” is irrelevant (in it’s typical form) to this generation however preaching isn’t and can’t be! Stay with me on this one I’m not just playing with words, I want to explore a contrast between the sermon slot by right and the preach by intention. How can preaching be irrelevant? It’s about the practical challenge and teaching of Christian truth and experience in a way that connects with and challenges the recipients. I have a high regard for preachers who’ve learnt their art learning how to communicate to people who don’t think they wanted to be communicated with (youth groups/assemblies etc)! Forgive the deliberate polarisation but I thought it might be interesting to explore what the sermon has become with what a good preach could/should be:

The Sermon

A Preach

Automatic ‘right’

Earned through respect/relationship

Emphasis on Teaching

Emphasis on Learning


More of a ‘dialogue’ in terms of response,
involvement and example

Examples from the life of the preacher

Examples from the life of the hearer

Delivered by people who’ve learnt to do sermons

Delivered by people who’ve learnt to communicate

Delivered by people who’ve practiced in the pulpit

Delivered by people who’ve honed their art in all sorts of places

A Discipline

A Passion

Intellectual response required

Heart/Lifestyle response required

Words only

Wider range of senses/media

5 Replies to “The Sermon is dead, long live the preach”

  1. Our year outers identified ‘calling’ as a key componant in preaching as opposed to sermon which you are expected to do as part of a job of a vicar (which was an interesting thought)

  2. Huge discussion on preaching at Jason Clark’s blog (
    I briefly posted on it.
    My current feeling is its another “both/and” rather than “either/or” – that challenges to the sermn cause us to look at fresh communication, but done well the thing might not be dead yet!
    Of course a key factor in all this is the size of the gathering – Stuart Murray argues the monologue sermon came after Christendom with the larger congregations in the big buildings.

  3. i was told once that once a sermon was given in the quaker tradition then the congregants were given time after that to argue and ask questions of the preacher. true or not, i like that image of giving response, opportunity for understanding, and challenging the process.

  4. I definitely think preaching can and should be about PASSION and calling. I think it also has to be about LOVING those to whom you speak.
    I still think you can have examples from the life of the preach-er – surely that’s an essential element of witness?
    I think both “sermon” and “preach”, as words, have connotations for young ppl that they might reject.
    “Talk” is so much more neutral a term. Sorry that adds a third column to your table!

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