Pulpit revival

Langley, B.C.—It’s a paradox that something timeless needs reinventing. But for generations evangelical Christians have attempted to reform the practice of preaching according to social expectations. Now a group of culture-conscious individuals with a passion to share God’s word have formed the Evangelical Homiletics Society (EHS) to preserve this tradition.

“Preaching is not what it used to be,” says Kenton C. Anderson, PhD, professor of homiletics at ACTS Seminaries of Trinity Western University and President of the EHS. That’s why Anderson, along with 95 other attendees, participated in the seventh annual EHS conference this fall at ACTS Seminaries of TWU.

Established in 1997, the EHS buffers the effects of social change on preaching with biblical truth. With a membership of pastors, evangelists and graduate students, the EHS exists as a forum for the exchange of ideas related to the instruction of preaching for its preservation.

“Those who are committed to preparing the next generation of preachers are few and we need to get together to share our ideas and learn from one another,” says Anderson.

For centuries people have gathered around the pulpit for spiritual and intellectual nourishment, drawn by its power to ‘help people hear from God’ (Romans 10). “It used to be in the evangelical Christian movement that preaching was everything and almost everything else in the church was secondary or tertiary to preaching,” says Gordon MacDonald, preacher, author and guest lecturer at the recent EHS conference.

According to MacDonald, there is a growing apathetic attitude toward lengthy sermons matched by an increasingly media conditioned audience have created a misplaced need to revive this centuries old tradition. “There’s a transition going on in the church where preaching is a little less important,” says MacDonald.

“Today in the younger generations there’s a tendency to think that worship, or music, is as important as preaching,” says MacDonald. “In fact, they tend to pick their churches not as much on who’s doing the preaching but who’s doing the worship.”

For preachers, it then becomes their responsibility to bridge the gap between cultural change and biblical truth. “Preaching ought not be driven by the context. It ought to be driven by God’s Word,” says Anderson. “Still, the context is critical in that preaching is a communication transaction. God is the speaker, but the listener receives the message in space and time. Those spaces and times shift and change. And while the fundamental message does not change, the way that it is offered and the way that it is heard can change dramatically.”

By providing a forum for those at the heart of this biblically based tradition, the
EHS invests in the development of the teachers of preaching to give hope to the advancement of this tradition. “If the Bible is true, then preaching retains tremendous power. As we offer God’s Word, God himself has promised to speak and that will always have power, even in this disinclined culture,” says Anderson.

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,500 students this year. With a broad based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 38 major areas of study ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2015-07-13
Author: Keela Keeping