Preaching to a Secular Age
Let’s face it: the greatest preachers - Luther, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards, et al - preached in an entirely different world. Their hearers were biblically literate; their cities embraced a basic biblical morality; their cultures still bore the craters of Christendom. There are many things we can learn from them about preaching - but speaking effectively to secular people is not one of them. For that, we must look around for preachers in our own day who are doing it well.
John Starke is a man who IS doing it well. He preaches weekly at Apostles Church in the heart of New York City. And last year he wrote an essay called “Preaching to the Secular Age” that contains some of the most crucial insights I’ve ever come across about preaching in a post-Christian culture.
Here in the Midwest, we preachers can sometimes “get away with” sloppy contextualization. The Heartland is still a fairly religious and conservative place. Perhaps you don’t feel the urgency of preaching to skeptics and disenchanted moderns. But you should. Our world is rapidly secularizing. If your church doesn't learn to speak to the malaise of modernity, you’ll see less and less evangelistic fruit. Yes, God is sovereign in salvation. But we still expect missionaries to learn the local dialect. We must do so as well.
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