The question behind Preaching to a Post-Everything World is simple: “Could I now reach who I once was?” Zack Eswine of Covenant Theological Seminary wants the answer to be yes.
Until we remember that God drew us to himself and nourished us before we even knew where to find the book of Exodus in the Bible or that such things as Arminianism and Calvinism even existed, we will withhold from others the same mercy that was required for us to learn what we now know.
To reach others in a post-everything world, Eswine argues that we need “preachers who understand biblical exposition in missional terms.” How do we become this type of preacher?
First, we must prepare the sermon for a post-everything world. This means that we preach what is real, not what is simplistic. We preach what is redemptive, sensing echoes from within the text and within our culture of the redemptive storyline of the Bible. It also means that we avoid moralism. Eswine provides guidance on how to do this while connecting to real listeners who don’t know or accept the biblical story of redemption.
Second, we can learn from God’s homiletical range. Eswine helps us consider the various ways that truth is communicated through Scripture, including the models of prophet, priest, and sage. He writes:
Expanding our preaching postures and connecting them to identified cultural contexts will give us what we need to retool our biblical sermons to connect with our cultures. God has already provided the communication frameworks we need to meet the challenges we encounter.
Finally, we must engage the cultures of a post-everything world, recognizing the various issues that will arise as people hear Scripture. Eswine helps us deal with difficult topics and defeater beliefs, and to contextualize our message without compromising it. He also calls us to rely on the Holy Spirit and to engage in monastic practices, so that the “mess of life” does not “strip the missional preacher of his substance.”
Eswine also includes two valuable appendices: one outlining a process for sermon preparation, and another that outlines a method for discerning culture.
The strength of this book is that it is both Christ-centered and missional. The weakness of this book is that the material is sometimes overwhelming. Eswine warns us that the book will alternate between an informal style and formal lectures. I struggled sometimes as his writing bounced between these two styles.
Nevertheless, I’m glad I read this book. There’s a wealth of material, and I’m sure I’ll return to the book many times in the future. If you are a preacher looking for ways to be both Christ-centered and missionally relevant in your preaching, then you’ll find this book valuable.