|FPC, Lowville, NY|
Preaching today is challenging. In the past, the Sunday preachers dominated the local media aside from printed newspapers. They were the only regular, weekly game in town when it came to listening and watching public media. They could preach for 60 minutes or more and hold people's attention. In the old days, New England families devoted hours of table conversation to dissecting Sunday's sermon. Then came radio, and now, of course, preachers are only one small voice in the overwhelming daily bombardment of public media.
So, the challenge is to say something on a Sunday morning that is entertaining, intelligent, and relevant to the lives of a congregation. The entertaining part is crucial. In education circles, there is a term, "edutainment," which means using entertainment media and techniques to communicate educational content. The highly popular and effective children's TV show, Sesame Street, is the industry standard for quality edutainment. How does one compete with that? But, preachers have to try. If we aren't entertaining, we won't be heard.
Preaching a relevant, meaningful, and thought-provoking message is also important—more so than ever, actually, in our world where soccer dominates Sunday mornings, worship attendance is on the decline, and our Protestant churches still want quality preaching as they always have. Speaking personally, some weeks this feels daunting. How does one stay fresh, interesting, and relevant week after week? Still, it's not quite that grim. Local churches continue to value preaching excellence, and the weekly sermon is important to them. Preachers have an amazing array of resources, many of which the Web puts at their fingertips (literally). Where there is great challenge, there is also great opportunity. Amen.