Preaching is just another product

The summer edition of Leadership journal (Vol. XXVII, Number 3) has a few provocative articles on preaching (IMO: more revealing than informative). A few comments that caught my attention were from Spencer Burke, creator of The comments come from an article he penned called “Banker’s Hours: Why I withdrew from the church’s ‘come to our tellers’ approach”. The gist of his argument can be seen in the following:

Right now churches are focusing on one product to the exclusion of others. Most often, it’s teaching, a 60- to 90-minute event held at a particular time, at a particular physical address. It’s basically the same product we’ve been selling since the Reformation. People sit in a room and listen to someone talk.

But here’s the thing: back then, it made sense for people to travel miles to hear someone talk about God. After all, people were mostly illiterate, Bibles were expensive, and Sunday morning was often the only time people could expand their horizons. Teaching was a rare commodity.

That’s no longer true today. Teaching is available everywhere–on television, radio, on-line. The local church no longer has the corner on the market.

….Just as the Reformation unchained the Bible from the pulpit, we need to unchain teaching from the Sunday morning event. We need to see teaching not as our core product, but as one part of a line of products that also includes community, service, and worship.”

So what do you think?

9 responses to this post.

  1. Revisionist history…unsubstantiated over-generalizations…naive perspective regarding “the Lord’s Day”, preaching/equipping, the purpose of the local church, etc…to name a few!

    Furthermore, if teaching is already so prolific outside the church (and it is), why is Burke trying to “unchain teaching from the Sunday morning event”? IOW, there’s no need to “unchain” what has already been loosed. Unless Burke has some other motive…like, perhaps eliminating the preaching event from Sunday’s altogether.

  2. Posted by Chris Pixley on August 25, 2006 at 6:25 pm


    Bingo! All that was missing was some explicit statement to the effect that the theology of the reformation was easily passed off on the uneducated dupes of 16th Century Europe, but such ridiculous bunk can never be sold to the intellectually informed masses of the modern western world.

  3. The name ooze about says it all…

    This man’s idea of what a church is for is horribly askew…

  4. Posted by Caleb on August 26, 2006 at 9:19 pm

    A logical by product of post-modernity. Let’s replace the preaching and teaching of the Word with more relevant forms of communication; better yet lets replace preaching altogether!

    The ooze should be renamed “missing the mark”

  5. Dear Jerry, Chris, Jim and Caleb,

    It is my love of teaching and the church that inspired me to write the words in the above quoted article. My desire is not to destroy teaching or the church but instead honor the gift and the Word by using all opportunities to communicate Grace and Truth. AND empower the Church to see its role far beyond the weekly event.

  6. Spencer –
    Thank you for writing in with your thoughts. Time doesn’t permit an answer at the moment (on my to church), but I would like to interact with you a bit some time tomorrow.

    Thanks for your patience…


  7. […] It is my hope that he will join us as we continue to discuss his provocative writings and ideas. Most of us believe he has some more explaining to do and as a self-proclaimed postmodern who desires “conversation” we hope to provide him with our share in the spirit of Christian charity and commitment to the Word. If you wish to comment on the article in question please keep it civil and on topic (leave comments at this post).   […]

  8. Brethren

    Fundamentalist have being preaching without teaching for ever. Preaching is not supposed to be about teaching doctrine, but preaching on sin, and how to live right, and preaching the Gospel. Right? So we who have been in this movement for years have not heard teaching in the pulpit on Sunday. That is what I was taught in the Bible Colleges I attended.

    Good men who really love the Lord and love preaching are the produce of their training in our Seminaries.

    I did not know there were more than a few bible schools in America. I was shocked to learn there were some Refomred schools, and being around for years. I was kept in the dark for many years.

    So while Spencer Burke is looking for preaching with less Reformed teaching I on the other hand look for the preaching he is trying to change.

    I have now listened to both styles of preaching, and I believe people need to learn what God is really saying in His word.

    “People sit in a room and listen to someone talk” I believe was Spencer’s point.

    I have tried getting a group of people together in a comfortable setting, and have Bible Study, and have every one to give their explanation on the passages of Scripture we were studying. Its like “pooling ignorance.”

    I think we need Preachers teaching the Word of God for 55 minutes, and people sit and take note
    of what God is teaching in His Word.


  9. I think part of the problem of even having this discussion is that Mr. Burke and the contributors of this blog are in two different worlds in regards to theology, preaching and its impact on the body of Christ. In fact he is not playing by the same rules we are so it is questionable if “conversation” is even possible. Burke’s friend and self-professed “Friend of Emergent”, Professor Scot McKnight has concluded the following after reading Burke’s latest offering:

    “Is Spencer a “heretic”? He says he is, and I see no reason to think he believes in the Trinity from reading this book. That’s what heresy means to me. Denial of God’s personhood flies in the face of everything orthodox. To say that you believe in the creedal view of God as Father, Son, and Spirit and deny “person” is to deny the Trinitarian concept of God.

    Is Spencer a “Christian”? He says he is. What is a Christian? Is it not one who finds redemption through faith in Christ, the one who died and who was raised? If so, I see nothing in this book that makes me think that God’s grace comes to us through the death and resurrection of Christ. Grace seems to be what each person is “born into” in Spencer’s theses in this book. That means that I see no reason in this book to think Spencer believes in the gospel as the NT defines gospel (grace as the gift of God through Christ by faith).”

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