Preaching That Connects, Part 2: -- By: David Jackman
TRINJ 29:2 (Fall 2008) p. 189
Preaching That Connects, Part 2:
Internal Transformation: Pastoral Patterns And Practice1
*David Jackman is President of the Proclamation Trust and has been in ministry since 1968.
I come from the least evangelized continent in the world. In post-Christian Europe while almost every village and hamlet has its dominant church building still standing, its seats are largely empty, its doors often closed. In the UK there are towns and rural communities where church attendance is down to one to two percent of the population and declining. In a conurbation of three hundred thousand people in the Midlands, a recent survey could only detect six hundred, at the most, Bible-believing Christians, which is 0.2%. The challenge facing us is mountainous in its proportions. While it is true that the situation in the USA is much healthier, and that the critical mass of Christians in the culture enables the exercise of so much more influence and potential impact than we could ever dream of in Europe, nevertheless it would be naïve and foolish not to recognize the same erosive trends gathering strength all the time, even here. What is assumed in one generation can so easily disappear in the next.
It would not be surprising, then, if in a context like this evangelism becomes the dominant concern of the church. Indeed it must be. “Evangelize or fossilize” is not just a clever sound-bite. Nor is the statement that God has no spiritual grandchildren. If the church in this generation is not committed to the Great Commission, there may be no church in the next generation. When the cultural tectonic plates shift in a massive upheaval, the resulting tsunami can wash away generations of inherited tradition and imagined solidity in a very short period of time.
But there is another danger, often hidden and unrealized, which churches face in such a context and which pastors and leaders are prone to ignore. It is that the plausibility structure of the gospel in a declining church culture depends not only on the quality of its proclamation, but on the quality of its believers in their personal
TRINJ 29:2 (Fall 2008) p. 190
discipleship as they exemplify the message of the gospel at every point of social connection in their daily lives. Preaching that connects with a lost world occurs not only from the pulpit on those all too infrequent occasions when unbelievers sit under gospel preaching. Far more often, it is the lives of Christians in their expression of Christ’s truth and love which connect with the watching world. It has been well said that while the unbeliever may not read the Gospel ac...
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