Krish Kandiah wrote a couple of posts on preaching last week, which are well worth reading - it's debate prep, so he gives both points of view: is preaching dead or alive? It has got me thinking about preaching, so here are a few of my somewhat disjointed and unpolished ponderings.
1. Preaching is liturgical before it is educational. If you take a glance at Krish's piece against preaching, many of the reasons have to do with educational theory. Now, I don't have much time for that sort of thing anyway, but I especially don't want to see it applied to preaching. The primary point of preaching is not the education of the church, not the impartation of knowledge. The main thing is to lift the eyes of the congregation to Christ. It is about speaking, and hearing, the Word of God - which means more than explaining the Bible. It means speaking as if pronouncing the very oracles of God. This is part of worship, and only secondarily is it a matter of catechesis (something which the church needs to do elsewhere).
2. The gospel is news. News is announced, not discussed. One of the most frustrating things about the contemporary presentation of television or internet news is the apparent feeling that it would be a good idea to democratise the news by inviting comment from the ignorant public. This is not the way news works. News is not a conversation, it is an announcement. Preaching is the only form that matches up with the content in this sense.
3. The gospel is a monologue. It is not that we are not invited in or involved - we certainly are. But only really as hearers, as recipients. In so far as we are doers, it is because we are hearers. This is what grace means - God does it all. Not only does he achieve salvation by himself without us, he announces salvation without us. Preaching in the church is a sign of that - we listen to the preacher, who trusts that God takes up his preaching and makes it a genuine announcement of the gospel.
4. Preaching is the centre of the church's life. What else could it be? The gospel announced calls the church together, and drives the church out to announce the gospel.
5. God accompanies the faithful preaching of the gospel, and makes it powerful.