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Why Johnny Can't Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers Paperback – February 27, 2009
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"An insightful diagnosis of a serious problem in the life of the church. For this we should be grateful, as we should for the way out of the crisis to which this book ably points." --David F. Wells, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
"Adds more to the homiletical conversation than ten books twice its length. Dr. Gordon is saying things that no one else has said, perhaps because no one dares to. He brings two very important perspectives to bear on the serious business of preaching: finely tuned literary sensibilities and media ecology. Electronic media alter perception and dramatically transform the sensibilities of preachers and the rest of the culture. Gordon's analysis offers us hope that Johnny can learn to preach well." --Gregory Edward Reynolds, pastor, author of The Word Is Worth a Thousand Pictures: Preaching in the Electronic Age
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Top Customer Reviews
Which brings me to T. David Gordon's Why Johnny Can't Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers, about the modern preacher and his ability both to read biblical texts and communicate compellingly their God-breathed truth. The minister's work is demanding: he must not merely assert the point of his sermon; he must fulfill "his duty of demonstrating that what he is saying is God's will." (18) Sadly, he often seems unaware of his solemn duty, and, even if he is, he finds himself woefully prepared to discharge it adequately.
Why Johnny Can't Preach is a pre-homiletics book. It has little to say about the how-tos of crafting a sermon but much to say about the literary sensibilities and habits of learning a preacher must possess - prior to undertaking the work of sermon construction. These cannot ordinarily be learned at seminary; the ministerial candidate must master them earlier as he studies in academic environments that prize the careful reading, interpretation and exposition of texts.Read more ›
The title is a take on the famous books by Rudolf Flesch is the 60's Why Johnny Can't Read: And What To Do About It & Why Johnny Can't Write: How To Improve Writing Skills.
This book does not mince its words - and there is a reason for this. David GOrdon was diagnosed with cancer and his initial prognosis of survival was 25% chance. As a professor and former church pastor he felt he could not die until he had written about the poor preaching which is prevalent in our church today. He wrote this during the 11 months of treatment he received for the cancer - hence it is blunt and deliberately so.
For Gordon, less than 30% of ordained church ministers can preach at best, a mediocre sermon. The other 70% simply cannot preach. He recounts a story of a humble, godly elder who, having been asked by Gordon if they realized the new pastor they had just hired could not preach, replied "of course we know he could not preach." He went on to say that in the 30 years of being an elder he had never met a pastor who could preach - and that his rotary club has better public speakers.
This challenged Gordon - who in his own experience has generally found the same experience.
Now, this is not about the 'stars' of preaching. This is not trying to say we need to be George Whitefields, or Jonathan Edwards, or Charles Spurgeon. Gordon's point is that in the average church, with the average congregation, the average pastor is unable to deliver even a mediocre, competent sermon.
Gordon argues that there have been presentations, films, plays or concerts where we have watched without once looking at our watches or thinking "when will this end".Read more ›
It is important to the context of this book to realize that, when he wrote it, Gordon believed he had only months to live. He had stage III colorectal cancer and had roughly a 25 percent chance of survival. "Having been concerned about the state of preaching for three decades, I believed that it would be irresponsible to leave the world without expressing my thoughts about the matter, in the hope that better preaching might be the result." So this book has the air of a missive penned from a dying man and directed to dying men (though, happily, Gordon's cancer is now in remission). As he says, "The manuscript is, therefore, at a minimum, heartfelt."
I can think of at least a handful of books that have called contemporary preachers to task for their weak sermons or the unbiblical focus of their ministries.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Gordon is an amusing and engaging writer and has some perceptive insights on preaching. However, in one sentence this is what this book is about: A dinosaur lamenting that... Read morePublished 22 days ago by Cdr
Every preacher should read this book! It is very short, and very helpful.Published 5 months ago by Jonathan Guerry
Great book that should be read by pastors and laity alike. It's not only the message that's changing, but the system of delivery is rapidly changing too.Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
Gordon makes a few good points about learning to read a text closely, about writing composition, and gaining an appreciation for what is significant. Read morePublished 8 months ago by mm
I've long believed that the preaching responsibility of pastors is the area in which most pastors are least willing to learn and grow. Read morePublished 9 months ago by T Peterson
A helpful quick look at the effects of our media culture on the mind and reading skills of modern day preachers.Published 12 months ago by Aeric Estep
Dr. Gordon does a good job of laying out why Johnny (the average American pastor) can't preach and how to fix the issues. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Matt
If you are coming from a seeker sensitive background, this book would be helpful. It is addressing the fact that preachers need return to preaching the word of God, not just touchy... Read morePublished 13 months ago by D Petterson