T. David Gordon on Preaching as Spiritual Cartography
Conscientious preachers have long wrestled with the question of homiletical relevance: how to make Christian proclamation “relevant” to their hearers. Ordinarily, wrestling with the question of relevance is understood to be a homiletical activity; I believe that it is also a theological activity, not merely a homiletical one.
That is to say, the question—how the redemptive work of God is relevant to hearers of that redemptive work—is not merely a rhetorical one. It is not merely a question of how we gain the interest or attention of our hearers to our message. Yes, we preachers are responsible to preach “in a language understanded by the people”—as the Lord did, in terms of a general knowledge and understanding of his audience. But beyond this, there is a theological question of the substance or content of the proclamation itself. The preacher is not so much responsible to learn from his hearers “where they are” as he is responsible to declare to his hearers “where they are,” and indeed to correct their misapprehensions of that matter.