I just finished reading Sermons Reimagined: Preaching to a Fluid Culture written by Rick Chromey and published by Group. I was very interested to see what the author had to say in this book, as I’m a strong believer that the traditional sermon desperately needs to change if we have any hope of attracting those (mostly younger people) with a postmodern outlook.
There is much to like if you can get past the author’s somewhat peculiar writing style. Page 12 has a helpful chart which compares aspects of modern preaching with postmodern preaching. Among the differences noted are that modern preaching is preacher-centered as opposed to postmodern preaching which is hearer-centered. It’s also noted that modern preaching creates answers and postmodern preaching creates questions; this may be difficult for those with a traditional view of the sermon to accept.
The first part of the book makes a case for a change in preaching based on the increasingly technological world, the way that postmodern people receive and process information, as well as the needs of people today. Suggested changes for preaching include keeping the message simple and brief, making the message visual, welcoming questions, and praising God. There are some practical examples of how to do this, such as the author’s suggestion of a conversational format for preaching that invites the congregation to gather in small groups to discuss various types of questions after the sermon topic has been introduced.
The book ends with a warning that these changes may be difficult and perhaps even impossible in certain types of churches, but that change is inevitable if churches hope to remain in existence. Chromey, coming from an evangelical background, states that “our grandchildren will probably be amazed that we once went to church and listened to a preacher talk for almost an hour.” Sermons in mainline and Roman Catholic churches are rarely that long, but are still difficult for those who are not auditory learners. However, I’m curious to see how many preachers will be willing to share the spotlight in the future and venture out into this new world of bringing the good news to the people in the pews.