Preaching For The Hear and Now -- By: Tony Beckett

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 01:2 (Fall 1997)
Article: Preaching For The Hear and Now
Author: Tony Beckett

Preaching For The Hear and Now

Tony Beckett

Senior Pastor, Heritage Baptist Church,
Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania


Consider the challenge of communicating in today’s environment. People receive messages that are communicated to them through a variety of sensory inputs. These are designed, developed, and produced at the cost of thousands of dollars. Then, in the case of commercials, they are repeated, again and again.

In a media-saturated culture, a pastor then, with perhaps the accompaniment of an overhead projector, delivers a monologue without the assistance of even a drum set (such as a stand-up comic might have) for emphasis. Is he heard? How can he be heard with clarity?

Consider the challenge of being relevant in a rapidly changing culture. The pastor has the task of taking a book, thousands of years old, written in an agricultural age, and presenting it as relevant. How? Preaching to the “hear and now” requires (1) accuracy in understanding the text, (2) clarity in presenting the text, and (3) application to real-life situations. The primary consideration in this article will be the preacher’s preparation and presentation.

There is a caution to be given from the outset. In seeking to preach to today’s hearers, we must be careful not to sell out to a god of relevance, a spirit of today that has affected too much preaching with a shallow, contemporary-styled, needs-based theology. The desire for clarity and relevance in preaching should drive us to that which is eternal, the Word of God. Since it is eternal, it is relevant to every generation. We have the text. The question that remains is whether we are striving effectively to preach for the “hear and now.”

Two bulletins from two independent, fundamental Baptist churches located near each other were placed on the table. After some of the obvious style differences in layout, the contrasts

in order of worship services and the sermon topics were pointed out, and the simple question “What do you think?” was asked. Without hesitation the person looking them over put his finger on the one and said, “More relevant.”

When another person present was asked which of the two sermons she would rather hear, her comment was both diplomatic and what would be expected. “They both would probably be good, but I would rather listen to this one.” With that, she pointed to the same church bulletin as had the other person.One bulletin read: “Pastor continues series on Things which are Eternal. The message this week: ‘Christ Has the Keys of Hades and Death.’” The ot...

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