Preaching to felt needs

One of the reasons sermons become anthropocentric is that they set out to address felt needs. This approach can lead us into trouble because, according to Will Willimon, we live in a culture that sees "orgasm, a satisfying career, an enjoyable love life, a positive outlook on life” as needs, “stuff the Bible has absolutely no interest in."

In an interview called "Preaching Past TiVo" in the Summer 2006 issue of Leadership Journal, Willimon reflects on a sermon he heard that addressed a felt need:

One assumption is that the gospel has anything to do with “my needs.” As I read the Gospels, Jesus seems oblivious to most of my needs. Was Jesus about fulfilling people’s desires? What a curious image of Jesus.

Another assumption is that I have needs worth having. A consumer culture is not about the fulfillment of real need; it’s about the creation of a need I wouldn’t have without the advertising. So when I say “I need this” I shouldn’t be trusted.

My point: I have tremendous respect for the power of the market to own everything, including preachers. If my sermon becomes another product that makes you feel a little less miserable this week, then that, it seems to me, is a little less than the gospel.

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada