I occasionally hear that there’s not a lot of good preaching out there. On one hand, I agree. There are only so many brilliant speakers – you fill in the name of yours.
Yet I got thinking about all the sermons I’ve heard in the past couple of years, in visiting churches – Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian – and in listening to sermon podcasts from all over. I think I have at least five or six going on my iPod at any given time. I can’t remember the last time I heard a bad sermon. In thinking about this, I’ve come to realize that what I’m hearing isn’t always polish or perfection. But it’s real, it’s biblical, and it’s contextual. Every person I’ve listened to has taught me something and made me want to preach better myself.
Actually, one thing that the best preachers I’ve heard have in common is that they’re in their own context. I find that the dynamic changes when I hear a good speaker – even a great one – on the road addressing strangers. Part of the dynamic that I enjoy is the contextual nature of preaching. There’s wisdom in what I read on this church website:
The messages shared on Sunday mornings are specific to the Trinity Church community. They reflect our stories in a particular moment in the life of our church. The value and significance of these talks can change as they are dispersed to a wider community; therefore we provide temporary access for those who missed a particular Sunday.
I realize I’m not listening to a random group of people. I’m listening to friends and people I’ve come to admire. But I think there’s a lot more good preaching out there than we sometimes think. Preaching isn’t everything, but these days it’s under attack for both good and bad reasons. But it still matters, even when the person preaching isn’t the most gifted speaker around. There are a lot more good preachers around than we think. Or at least, if that’s not true, I’ve had really good luck in picking people to listen to.