The Preaching Institute advances our core mission of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, enhances church vitality, and supports a biblical calling for all believers to communicate the Christian message. At our dedication in 1980, Reverend Billy Graham hoped and prayed our center would be “a world hub of inspiration, research, and training, to glorify Christ and serve every church and organization in preaching and teaching the gospel to the world.”
In addition to advancing our mission, the Preaching Institute will support the overall vitality of the churches we serve. Through our research in the Church Evangelism Institute, we discovered that preaching—and particularly preaching that was hospitable to unchurched people—is a predictive factor in churches growing by reaching new people.
In general, preachers and future preachers need to continually improve their preaching. Much of their sense of thriving and succeeding, as well as their congregation’s sense of thriving and having an impact, depends upon it. Our commitment to preaching is one we believe is reflected in its priority in the Christian faith and permeates scripture. Consistently in its history, the Church has testified to the truth that the Christian faith is one that must be preached. In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul raises several important questions: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14).
While the practice of preaching traces back to the earliest days of recorded biblical history, each generation must build on the lessons of others and adapt the timeless messages to an ever-changing culture. For people to discover the Christian faith, deepen their understanding, and share their faith with others, four things are needed beyond the current offering from traditional preaching programs:
- The need for preaching focused on life-changing outcomes rather than customer satisfaction.
- The need for preaching which compels congregants towards impact beyond their congregation, and not just inwards towards the needs of people gathered.
- The need to become much more connected and effective in communicating with young adults.
- The need to adapt to the nuances, demands, and values of increasingly diverse cultural groups within the U.S.