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What's the Matter with Preaching Today? [Paperback]

By Mike Graves (Editor)
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Item description for What's the Matter with Preaching Today? by Mike Graves...

Ever since Harry Emerson Fosdick posed this question 75 years ago, the need for continually improving the Sunday morning sermon has remained. Now a who's who of thoughtful practitioners and professors will help you do just that. Identifying the issues that challenge effective preaching today, they offer helpful suggestions for raising the pulpit "bar." 192 pages, softcover from Westminster/John Knox.

Publishers Description

Seventy-five years ago, renowned preacher Harry Emerson Fosdick asked in "Harper's Magazine," "what's the matter with preaching?" Fosdick's question is even more relevant today, as both pastors and laity acknowledge the need for improvement in Sunday morning's sermons. And who better for pastors and students to learn from than those who already do it well? The contributors to this book are a some of the best and most thoughtful preachers in the church and classroom today. In their essays, they assess the state of preaching today, identify a variety of issues that challenge effective preaching, and offer helpful suggestions for what can be done to improve preaching. In the process, they help to define what effective preaching is.

Citations And Professional Reviews
What's the Matter with Preaching Today? by Mike Graves has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Christian Century - 01/25/2005 page 34

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Pages   192
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.14" Width: 6.46" Height: 0.51"
Weight:   0.71 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2004
ISBN  0664226329  
ISBN13  9780664226329  

Availability  98 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 26, 2016 05:08.
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More About Mike Graves

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Mike Graves is William K. McElvaney Visiting Professor of Preaching at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri, and Regional Minister of Preaching for the Greater Kansas City Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). "David May is a professor of New Testament at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas, and adjunct professor for the University of Missouri Doctoral Faculty in Kansas City, Missouri. He is the author of Revelation: Weaving a Tapestry of Hope (Smyth & Helwys, 2001) as well as numerous articles related to the social and cultural world of the New Testament.

Mike Graves currently resides in Kansas City, in the state of Missouri. Mike Graves was born in 1957.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Ministry
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Preaching

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Pastoral Help > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about What's the Matter with Preaching Today??

Provocative, Well Written Treatises on Preaching Today  Jul 21, 2006
This book was prepared in recognition of the 75th anniversary of Harry Emerson Fosdick's book by the same name. There are 13 chapters written by mostly mainline Protestant homileticians about issues relating to the subject of what is wrong with preaching today.

The first article is a reprint of Harry Emerson Fosdick's enthusiastic and interesting 1928 article on what he thought was the problem with preaching in his day. It turns out that his message is quite timeless. He concludes that many sermons are just plain boring and not very practical to everyday life. He contends that a sermon's objective should be to help people to solve a spiritual problem in their lives.

What truly bothered me about the chapter was Fosdick's disdain for expository preaching. He is absolutely convinced that people are not interested in having the Bible explained to them and having it applied to their lives. It cannot be underscored strongly enough how wrong Fosdick is on this point. Perhaps he has not had occasion to hear any really good expositors.

On the other hand, Fosdick has an equal amount of disdain for those who preach topical sermons from the newspaper and use no scripture at all.

What Fosdick does advocate is preaching for life change. In other words, "don't just preach about joy. Talk about it in such a way that the people walk out of church more joyful than they were before. That I believe, can be done more profoundly and more lastingly with an exciting exposition of holy writ.

David Bartlett and Mike Graves have essays where they basically say that we should make mercy tangible and visible and real in our sermons.

David Buttrick begins his essay with a defense of the pulpit, asserting that both good preaching and no so good preaching at least bring God into the forefront of the public consciousness.

He then critiques (and occasionally skewers) biblical preaching, the therapeutic preaching model of Fosdick, and African-American preaching, which he regards as the best preaching in America today, though it may have lost a little of its prophetic edge.

Buttrick concludes by saying that if preaching is going to thrive in the 21st century, then it will need to emphasize what he calls the empire of God and the presence of God. Preachers will also need to preach against the principalities and powers which hold people in bondage today (materialism, selfishness, etc).

Ernest Campbell follows with an article called "A Lover's Quarrel With Preaching." He starts out by sharing some of his own conviction about Christianity, namely that Jesus might be the only way for us, but not the only way for others. He also says that the Bible doesn't have to be taken literally to be taken seriously (a loaded statement which makes me want to ask "What definitions of literally and seriously are you working with?" I confess that at this point, I was ready to skip this chapter and move on. But I stayed the course.

He also thinks that preachers often ignore issues of justice in order to placate people. Isaiah the prophet would definitely shout "Amen!" to that and so would I.

He says that we have allowed preaching to become a dull defense of the past way of doing things instead of proclaiming of living Christ. He also says that we have become too dependent on the lectionary, which in its three year cycle, only covers a small portion of scripture? How can preachers of the whole counsel of God be content with leaving out huge parts of the canon? I thought that this was a really good point!

Fred Craddock's article talks about how scripture can touch the deepest places in our lives, while Marva Dawn says that all too often, we get in the way of what God wants to do through us. We forget our place, we forget to spend time each day with God, we forget to let the text prune us before we present it in church to prune others, we forget to take prophetic risks, and rely on the Holy Spirit for the words and the wisdom.

She concludes the chapter by declaring that even though she is the problem with preaching, God still loves her. God still wants to use her. God still wants to speak to all of us. "What's the matter with preaching today? I am. What's right about preaching today? The great I AM."

Wow, what a powerful article! This is the best article in the book so far!

Anna Carter Florence has a thoughtful reflection on the importance of preaching the text, really the first article in the book to mention this as vital. Yet she warns against torturing the text and squeezing out of it more information than what people need. She also warns about spending lots of time defending what is in the text, noting that Jesus did not need the apostles to use swords to defend Him. She wants us to live the text before we preach it.

Cleophus Larue reminds us that in spite of all the praise heaped onto black preaching, there are still ways that black preachers can better engage those who enjoy listening to them, and that both white and black preachers can profit from each others' strengths and weaknesses. But as it is, they are like two ships passing each other in the night.

Thomas Long's meditation is about how we may have gone too far into need based, therapeutic preaching, and now the pendulum needs to come back the other way. We need to emphasize the news of what God has done through Christ on our behalf and what God IS doing in our world and in our lives.

Eugene Lowry's contribution discusses how our preaching often resorts to petty problem solving rather than articulately and poetically gesturing toward the God of grace and glory.

Barbara Brown Taylor has the final article in the book. She says that is impossible to please everyone with everything we say from the pulpit, and that we should focus on doing the best we can and being in volved with their lives, that the people will connect with us as we work harder to connect with their humanness.

As an evangelical preacher, I would have naturally liked to have seen more of an emphasis in this book on what Fosdick refers to as the "old-fashioned" idea of expounding and applying the Bible to people's lives. Contrary to what is sometimes stated, people DO want to hear the Bible preached. They WANT to know how God's word works and applies in our modern world.

We don't have to throw out the baby with the bathwater. We can have exciting, exhilarating, biblically sound preaching today that touches people's lives and makes them more interested in relating to God and the world around them.

But the book was an inspiring meditation on the struggles and the joys of preaching, and I give it a thumbs' up!

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