Ron’s #7: Why Johnny Can’t Preach by T. David Gordon (108 pages)

The quick answer to why Johnny can’t preach is this: “The average American adult reads fewer than nine books annually, and spends seventeen times as much time watching television as reading” (35).

I heard the author on The White Horse Inn podcast a few months ago, and I was eager to read this book. Mark made it easy when he bought it and lent it to me. See his review here. After reading my last book on preaching (Today’s Gospel), I thought this would be a perfect follow-up.

T. David Gordon makes a case in this book that the reason preaching in America is so flaccid is that those preaching lack skills to read and write well. Because of the culture around us switching from print-based to image-based, we are not reading well or much at all. We have become what he calls “aliterate,” in that we know how to read but choose not to. When men are not reading well or learning how to write in an orderly fashion, is it any wonder that our sermons are filled with banalities, trivialities, and disorder?

Gordon’s advice to fix the problem makes me as an English teacher smile: get a degree in English literature before moving to seminary. If we are to teach the Word, we need to know how to read words well.

I’ve met many young men and women recently who are passionate about ministry, and I have suggested to take literature and writing courses before going to online programs from Moody or Liberty. Nobody seems to listen, as they think there is a divide between sacred and secular. This is not the case, as we must toil at improving our minds so that we can accurately present the Word of God to His people.

If you are in full-time ministry, or you think that you want to be someday, please order this book. Do it right before enrolling in an introductory literature course. Your congregation or your youth group will benefit from this training.

About Ron 173 Articles
I teach English and government in Okinawa, Japan. I love reading theology and fiction, and helps keep me accountable. Reading with three kids under 5 is a bit of a challenge, but I keep trying to find ways to read more. My favorites writers are C. S. Lewis, Flannery O’ Connor, and Raymond Carver.

2 Comments on Ron’s #7: Why Johnny Can’t Preach by T. David Gordon (108 pages)

  1. I agree Ron.
    With the vernacular of today’s youth, it is very easy for someone to misunderstand the object of what one is teaching.

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