Preaching to a Postmodern World (a Guide to Reaching Twenty-first Century Listeners)

by Graham Johnson

Preaching the gospel is not what it used to be. That is the thesis of Graham Johnson's Preaching to a Postmodern World. A generation or two ago, the preacher who was true to the Word was looked upon as the answer man, the one whose advice was taken without too much question. The author believes that many hearers today reject absolutes, including absolute truth as contained in the Scriptures.

Today's preacher cannot, must not change his message. The truth of the gospel will always be relevant. What today's preacher needs to change, Johnson says, is his method of presenting gospel truth. Many auditors today believe there is validity in all religions. The exclusiveness of the gospel of Jesus Christ turns off many hearers. It is the preacher's task to gain the attention of the postmodern hearer and demonstrate the reasonableness of the claims of Jesus Christ.

How can today's preacher engage the postmodern hearer? Johnson suggests several alternatives to the straightforward gospel sermon that so many believers have come to love and accept. One method utilizes a dialog approach-engage the hearers in the sermon by asking questions that elicit a response. The preacher may employ an imaginary conversation to catch the hearers' attention.

Storytelling also grabs attention. Jesus was the master storyteller. He talked about things that were familiar to His hearers. Today's preacher can utilize storytelling that connects with the hearers' world. Using current events is one way to connect.

Use of audio-visuals, drama, and art offer yet other ways of compelling interest. Almost every hearer has some familiarity with the latest movie or the current CNN news blip.

The author makes a major point: No matter what the method, the primary purpose of preaching is to reach the lives of people with the message of Jesus Christ.