Tim Keller on preaching to a non-abstract culture

One of the keys is Christ-centered preaching:

People in our society will respond to narrative and story. They tend not to like the older kind of preaching that simply enunciates doctrinal principles. Neither will they be as excited about the newer user-friendly sermons of seeker-churches on 'How to Handle Fear,' 'How to Balance Your Life,' etc. But there is a danger that postmodern preaching will devolve into mainly poetic storytelling rather than expounding the truth.
In Luke 24 we learn that every single part of the Bible is really about Jesus. The Christ-centric preaching approach sees the whole Bible as essentially one big story with a central plot: God restores the world lost in Eden by intervening in history to call out and form a new humanity. This intervention climaxes in Jesus Christ, who accomplishes salvation for us what we could not accomplish for ourselves. While only a minority of Biblical passages actually give the whole storyline, every Biblical text must be placed in the whole storyline to be understood. In other words, every text must be asked 'What does this tell me about the salvation we have in Christ?' in order to be understood.
This understanding of preaching, then, turns all preaching into narrative preaching, even if it is an exposition of Deuteronomy, Proverbs or James. Every sermon is a story in which the plot of the human dilemma thickens, and the hero that comes to the rescue is Jesus. Christ-centric preaching converts doctrinal lectures or little how-to talks into narrative preaching, but it is still careful, close Biblical exposition of texts.


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