Preaching to Those Walking Away

"Preaching could easily serve as a seminary preaching text, although it is equally useful for seasoned pastors."

N. Graham Standish
Fortress Press, 242 pages | Published June 7, 2022

“What if we’re all preaching to the wrong era?”

N. Graham Standish is certain that we are. In Preaching to Those Walking Away, he explains that many pastors still preach in an academic style, outlining a theologically rational case in sermon manuscripts meant to be read, not proclaimed. Meanwhile, churchgoers who came to make spiritual and emotional connections with Jesus walk away, convinced the church is unable to relate to modern lives.

Standish briskly takes us through a history of preaching and explanation of generational differences before leading us to the conclusion that, in an era of multi-tasking and unlimited access to visual and oral content (from Ted Talks to Tik Tok), preachers seeking to transform lives need to better surprise, invite and inspire from the pulpit. His writing is accessible, his arguments well-articulated, and his advice practical. Standish includes transcripts from his own sermons (clearly annotated, to explain his thought process), as well as YouTube links to his sermons from virtual worship. There’s nothing gimmicky or edgy here; his sermons are simple, conversational and transformative, and never sacrifice biblical or theological depth.

Preaching could easily serve as a seminary preaching text, although it is equally useful for seasoned pastors. I followed Standish’s suggested questions for reflecting on my previous sermons and then applied his construct to next Sunday’s sermon, confident his approach will help me share a relevant message with newcomers and “regulars” alike.

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