The Insanity of Preaching

Albert Einstein is known for saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I’ve seen this quip used by church growth gurus advocating the need for rethinking everything about how we do church.

I found this section on pg. 139 of Jared Wilson’s book The Pastor’s Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in Your Life and Ministry (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), refreshing:

What are we doing when we commit to gospel-centered preaching and teaching in the face of nonapparent results? Every chance we get, we hold up Jesus Christ as preeminent and precious, we exult in his glorious excellencies, and we present the gospel boldly, clearly, and with unction. Still nary a crack in the surface of reception. It is like preaching, as they say, to a brick wall.

Should we switch things up? Try another tack? Measurable nonresults is one of the reasons so many churches tuck the gospel behind fog and lasers or adjust their teaching to the ‘7 Steps’ busywork of moralistic therapeutic deism. I mean, isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?


Brothers, let us be ‘out of our minds’ (see 2 Cor. 5:13) together on this. Let’s preach the word in and out of season. Let’s commit to the utter foolishness of preaching (1 Cor. 1:23), understanding that sometimes God puts us on purpose before a crowd whom the gospel hardens, not softens (Isa. 6:8-10).


2 Comments to “The Insanity of Preaching”

  1. I wonder what your take is on this: Is it possible that some pastors are simply not communicating the message well enough (i.e. clarity)? I’m with you when you say we shouldn’t hide the gospel behind laser lights and fog machines or turn a sermon into a simple life formula. However, in my observation, sometimes the message is just not communicated in a way that listeners can understand best. Perhaps that’s one of the things pastors need to improve on?

  2. I agree. We need to “present the gospel boldly, clearly, and with unction.” And some people shouldn’t be preachers.

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