WHY JOHNNY CAN’T PREACH – The Annual Review Idea
As a co-pastor at an English Ministry – I try to read a few books on preaching per year, in the hope that my preaching will slowly improve.
I recently picked up a funny and instructive good by T. David Gordon (I am pretty sure he taught me Intermediate Greek at GCTS – even though I remember falling asleep in some of his classes from my early shifts at UPS :)): Why Johnny Can’t Preach.
[This is an useful book for any pastor – I just don’t see how you could pass this one to your pastor without more or less sending the message that he can’t preach :)].
There are many insights in this book – I will limit this post to his section on “The Annual Review” (pp. 33-34):
“My final argument to prove that preaching is in bad shape today is the annual review – or, to be more exact, its absence. Almost no churches conduct an annual review of the pastoral staff [this is certainly true in Romanian Baptist churches…]…I believe it is absolutely essential for any professional to have an annual review of his labor. Those of us who teach are reviewed; those who work in business are reviewed. Every other realm of labor recognizes the importance of an annual review, in which strengths and weaknesses can be assessed as a means to a more fruitful service in the future…
So why don’t churches routinely conduct annual reviews of their ministers? Because ministers don’t want to be told that their preaching is disorganized , hard to follow, irrelevant, and poorly reasoned; [TRUE – I certainly don’t want/like to be told that…] and because churches do not want to insult their ministers or hurt their feelings.
Therefore, I suggest that the very absence of annual reviews stands as glaring proof that preaching is so bad today that no one – neither the preacher nor the hearer – can tolerate the thought of how painful it would be to provide an honest assessment.”
Hard to argue with T. David Gordon on this one. I am convinced that an annual review of my preaching would hurt…but I believe that it would be for my good and that of the congregation!