Why Johnny Can't Preach

Status
Not open for further replies.

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
If you liked reading Neil Postman or Kenneth Myers, then you will like this book as well. It’s short, and you can read it in about two hours. However, this short book manages to put its finger on the pulse of what is wrong with preaching today in our culture.

The basic thesis is that the electronic media have so shaped our culture that preachers cannot read the text with understanding, provide order and flow in their sermons, preach Christ, exposit the text, or provide instruction. Instead, they tend to read the text in a way that confirms what they already know, rather than taking the time to read the text well so as to be changed by it.

All throughout this book, I was feeling a huge weight of electronic media crushing in all around me, with a gleam of hope shot through this book, such that I felt that there is a way to avoid jejune preaching, if only we as preachers could learn how to read texts not just for their informational content, but also for the way in which it is said, and how that realization could impact how we preach.

It is impossible to be bored when reading T. David Gordon. He has a great sense of humor, and has all the qualities of writing which he laments preachers don’t have. An example of his humor:

Several of the more incompetent preachers I’ve heard have jumped on the emergent bandwagon, and their ministerial careers are undergoing a resurgence now, as people flock to hear their enthusiastic worship leaders and to ogle their PowerPoint presentations. Their churches are no longer moribund, but then the annual carnival isn’t, either-it, too, is full of enthusiasm, activity, and lively entertainment. But I’m not sure these emergent activities have any more spiritual effect than the pig races at the carnival (p. 32, fn10).

Buy this book for your pastor. If you are a pastor, buy it. Do not be offended at the title (parishioners who buy this book for their pastor might have to be careful about that landmine!). This book will help you be a better preacher, because it will help you focus on what is important in preaching.

This book by T. David Gordon has been noticed here on the PB before. However, I just wanted to add my two cents.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
I enjoyed the book as well. Very helpful not only in helping me to understand myself, but in helping me to overcome some of these cultural obstacles to good study and preaching. :2cents:
 

Theogenes

Puritan Board Junior
Gordon has an article in the latest Modern Reformation magazine about his book. It looks very interesting!
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I like the premise! Does it address us poor souls in the pew? Surely it takes a work of grace to take someone out of an ear-bud encased, TIVO fast-forwarded week and into the hearing of God's word.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I haven't read the book but would like to point out that misreading and incompetence at communication both existed long before there was such a thing as a gramophone. A media fast doesn't turn an insensitive reader into a critical genius.
 

Jon Peters

Puritan Board Sophomore
I haven't read the book but would like to point out that misreading and incompetence at communication both existed long before there was such a thing as a gramophone. A media fast doesn't turn an insensitive reader into a critical genius.

Is that even what the book is advocating?
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
The basic thesis is that the electronic media have so shaped our culture that preachers cannot read the text with understanding, provide order and flow in their sermons, preach Christ, exposit the text, or provide instruction.

You tell me.
 

Jon Peters

Puritan Board Sophomore
The basic thesis is that the electronic media have so shaped our culture that preachers cannot read the text with understanding, provide order and flow in their sermons, preach Christ, exposit the text, or provide instruction.

You tell me.

The thesis points out the problem not the solution so I can't tell you yet.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
And I in turn was pointing out in two ways that the problem existed before the putative cause.
 

Answerman

Puritan Board Sophomore
Does the book deal with how education has changed throughout history? in my opinion, this is a very critical aspect of this problem.
 

N. Eshelman

Puritan Board Senior
I wrote a review for it that will be in an upcoming, Reformed Presbyterian Witness.

I argue that this book should be required reading by all pastors and anyone who desires to be one. Preaching is SO BAD is many reformed and presbyterian churches!

The book is so convicting. Get it!
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
And I in turn was pointing out in two ways that the problem existed before the putative cause.

Yes, misreading and miscommunication certainly existed before the electronic media. And Gordon doesn't pan the electronic media. However, the culture has moved from being a reading culture to being a visual culture (Gordon is basing his thesis on some of what Neil Postman has written). This means that the preaching of the Word has fallen on hard times, since many preachers feel that they have to compete with the entertainment industry in order to survive. The electronic media problem, as Gordon sees it, is that people can write things without very much thought put into them; they can IM, text message, etc., without carefully crafting a flow of thought and a logical order. Therefore, to be logical and orderly in writing a sermon requires doing something that not very many people do on a regular basis. He advocates doing anything (even using electronic media, if necessary!) that requires one to lay out an orderly arrangement of thought. This orderly arrangement not only has logic to it, but it also has a flow. Order and flow are necessary to a good sermon, argues Gordon. And the order and flow have to stem from the biblical text itself.

He also advocates reading classic literature, so that one can get into the habit of close reading the texts. He argues that the way communication happens today does not prejudice pastors in favor of close reading of texts, but rather of reading the text simply to confirm what is already in one's mind. I think Gordon definitely has some valid points to raise here.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Just curious, is anyone turned off by this book because the author is a Klinean?

His Klinean tendencies hardly show up in this book. The closest one could come to it is to see that he believes in preaching Christ from all of Scripture. But that is hardly unique to Kline.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top