The substance of Gordon’s complaint is pretty simple: the overwhelming majority of those ordained to Christian ministry cannot preach even a mediocre sermon. And lest we think he’s railing on some seeker-sensitive strawman, Gordon makes clear that he is speaking from his own experience running in conservative evangelical and conservative Reformed circles. This is not their problem, he argues, this is our problem. Sure, we may have some great preachers with large followings. But does the average Christian family in theaverage pew in the average church on the average Sunday get a decent sermon? Gordon thinks not.
Why are these qualities missing? Gordon says it’s not mainly from laziness on the part of the preacher (though that can be part of it). It’s not the fault of our seminaries either. The two reasons Johnny can’t preach are because Johnny can’t read and Johnny can’t write.
We have been trained by a image-based, sound bite, attention span deficient culture to skim books and fly past arguments. In other words, we don’t read carefully. We don’t read literature. And we surely don’t read poetry. We aren’t used to thinking deliberately, meditatively about texts. So preachers come to the text each week with general ideas about what the Bible says and then once they find those same ideas again, they preach on the same thing again. We are not learning, growing, or being changed by the text. Preachers are simply coming to have their banal assumptions and cliche-level understanding confirmed for yet another week.
Here is the book on Amazon: Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers