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Preaching for the Long Haul. Challenges to Preaching Effectively over the Long-Haul. “Without altars, we talk less and less about eternity and more and more about the here and now.” Calvin Miller Marketplace Preaching. The New Consumerism. Christianity as a Subculture.

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the new consumerism
“Without altars, we talk less and less about eternity and more and more about the here and now.”

Calvin Miller

Marketplace Preaching

The New Consumerism
christianity as a subculture
Christianity as a Subculture

Church has become an addendum to American culture. Disassociation with the market-place centers preaching on “insiders.” “Separation from the world” is double-edged.

loss of appreciation for divine drama
Loss of Appreciation for Divine Drama

“A sermon that loses its godly summons is at best a current event and at worst a morality monologue.”

Calvin Miller

Market Place Preaching

a church overly influenced by the secular and a world hungering for the transcendent
A Church….Overly Influenced by the SecularandA World….Hungering for theTranscendent
  • Church “life” takes its cues from the self-centered “spirit of entertainment.”
  • We trade the demands of Christ for a larger crowd.
Altars are the meeting places between God and humanity where the transcendence of God transforms and “abundantly pardons and saves to the uttermost.”

Christian Subculture

Influence of seculars—reality of a continuing hunger for the transcendent

Loss of Divine Drama

New Consumerism


The message and the messenger are inextricably linked

  • The why and who of preaching are prior to the how of preaching
  • “How do I become a living memory of God; how do I accept and connect; how do I lift up the individual story into divine history?”

Henri J. M.Nouwen


“The strategy of the principalities and powers is to disconnect us, to cut us off from the memory of God. It is not hard to see how many of our busy actions and restless concerns seem to be disconnected, reminding us of nothing more than the disorder of our own orientation and commitment.


When we no longer walk in the presence of the Lord, we cannot be living reminders of his divine presence in our lives. We then quickly become strangers in an alien land who have forgotten where we come from and where we are going.


Then we are no longer the way to the experience of God, but rather in the way of the experience of God. Then, instead of walking in God’s presence we start walking in a vicious circle, and pulling others into it.”

Henri J.M. Nouwen

The Living Reminder

all starting points must be connecting to the authoritative reference point

USA Today

Current Events

Chance Encounters


Daily Bible Reading


All starting points must be connecting to the authoritative reference point
the challenge of an audience
The Challenge of An Audience

Dear Speaker:

I hear a lot of people like you. I don’t mean to be impertinent, but give me one good reason why I should listen:

Are you about to say something that I would find useful? Are you willing to promise me that if I do listen, I will hear something of consequence?

Exactly what kind of promise would I like you to make? Promise me that after I have listened, I will upgrade my bogus values, jettison my impure motives, and commit myself to somethingglorious and dangerous and heady and wonderful.


Promise me that all the time I sit listening and you stand talking that I will see things I was unwilling to face before you preached. Help me see my sin, or God’s glory, or Jesus’ power.

Promise me that I, who am riddled with inferiority, will at last believe in myself.


I have always been afraid of heights. Challenge me with Everest. Promise me that after your words, I will be able to scale those icy walls and with God’s help plant his mighty flag on the summit of all my doubts.

Promise me that I at last will know who I am and what I was born to achieve.

Promise all this and you shall have first my ear. . .and then my soul.

-Your Audience

We can no longer assume our preaching takes place within a more or less “Christian” culture. The great narratives of Judeo-Christian belief, the pivotal stories of the Bible’s characters, the events of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ either are not known or do not carry the meaning-making significance they did for previous generations Biblical knowledge, Christian doctrine and theological reflection must be presented and re-presented from America’s pulpit-yes even American Christians.

Craig Loscalzo

Apologetic Preaching

historical considerations
Historical Considerations
  • Theological assumptions & historical realities impact sermon construction/delivery and expected response.
  • The Reformation was a reaction to human effort at religiosity. The expected response to preaching became a conceptual response altering a belief system.
  • Luther, Zwingli, Calvin would not be the best preachers to model in giving altar calls.
Charles Finney exemplified a reaction to the “old school”. Left brained religion wasn’t enough for Finney. Finney’s preaching for response exemplified:
  • His own encounter with God
  • His belief that the affections must be addressed specifically
  • A verdict for Christ was necessary.
  • Invitations to an “anxious bench” were standard.

Moody, Sunday and Graham perfect Finney’s “new school” efforts.

preaching for response21
Preaching for Response
  • Shaped by theological assumptions
  • Influenced by historical realities
  • Response must not be taken for granted
  • Biblical precedent exists

(Mt. 11:28; Luke 13:1-3; Acts 2:40; II Cor. 5:20)


The central section of a sermon is least likely to be remembered

Listeners usually “round off” a sermon to a general idea

People tend to interpret messages on the basis of past experiences


Listeners tend to select material based on how interesting it is to them

Most listeners find it difficult to separate essential from non-essential in a message

A speaker’s delivery and person can be more influential than the content of the message.

preaching for response the bottom line
Preaching for Response – the Bottom line
  • Start before you begin
  • Begin with the end in mind
  • End with clarity
start before you begin
Start Before You Begin
  • Specificity increases clarity – in one sentence –what is this sermon about? What do hearers need to know to act on this message?
  • There is a reward for the hard work of forgiveness
    • What do I want them to do?
  • What about your dad, who left you and your mom when you were 8?
    • Are you ready to forgive him?
  • If Rick, the plumber, were to take this message to heart, what would the changes look like?
begin with the end in mind
Begin With the End in Mind
  • Consider your audience.
  • Narrative is powerful
  • Entertainment is expected
  • Technology is omnipresent
  • Connection rather than education is valued
consider your support system
Consider Your Support System

What about notes?

  • Comfort yields confidence
  • Confidence yields clarity
  • Clarity yields effective communication
end with clarity
End With Clarity
  • Response times depend on clear content, clear language, clear directions
  • Lack of clarity at this point in the service creates confusion
  • Clear content assumes a simple pattern
  • Billy Graham’s four points are:
    • Admit you’re a sinner.
    • Christ’s provision on Calvary can cover your sin.
    • You must repent of your sin
    • Will you receive Christ’s forgiveness?
clear directions
Clear Directions
  • People need to know what you want them to do.
  • People need to know why they are being asked to respond.
  • People need to know when to respond and what to expect.

Greg Laurie

Leadership, Spring 1995

Preachers who preach for response faithfully can have faith in the God who calls people to repentance and obedience.
Preaching for response is biblically rooted – can be hindered by lack of preparation – but never be thwarted because it relies on the Spirit’s empowerment.

James Forbes

The Holy Spirit and the Preacher


Preaching for response is a Pentecostal preacher’s responsibility because Pentecostal preaching bears witness to the resurrecting power of God which breaks into every aspect of God’s created order.

James Forbes

The Holy Spirit and the Preacher