The gospel offers many things – forgiveness, community, meaning, contentment, identity, freedom, hope, vocation.  Christian communicators must consider how to arrange and articulate these great offers to apply their force frontally at the culture’s “pressure points.”  There are sore spots, as it were, where people who don’t believe in Christianity or God feel pinched, like feet in a pair of shoes that are too small, by their view of the world.  These are the places where what they profess and say they believe about the world does not fit their intuitions or experiences.  Preachers must know these sore spots and press on them with questions, offers, illustrations, and examples that make the tension they feel more acute and the incongruities more troubling.

For example, when preaching on forgiveness, point out the work of sociologists who argue that our modern culture, which promotes self-assertion and self-esteem, makes forgiveness especially difficult.  Then, show that the gospel gives us the gratitude and humility we need to forgive and be forgiven.  When preaching on community, turn to research that shows how our contemporary society’s commitment to individualism undermines communal ties and social life – then show how the gospel gives us great resources for community.  You can pursue similar patterns with many other biblical themes, like satisfaction, freedom, hope, and calling.

From: Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller (New York: Viking, 2015), pp. 117-118.

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