the shape of leadership

Five Reasons to Preach From the Headlines

Addressing today’s news in light of the good news

Influence Magazine on February 7, 2019

It may be difficult. It may be controversial at times. But preaching from the headlines can be a great way to add insight to your sermons.

You’ll need to exercise appropriate caution and wisdom, of course, especially when addressing sensitive or politicized subjects. But sometimes it’s helpful to weigh in on the things people are talking about. Here are five reasons to consider occasionally mentioning headline news in your message:

1. Your congregation wants clarity. The people in your church are not blind to newspapers, social media and cable news outlets. They see and hear about the same issues you do. But they may not be interpreting them the same way. Preaching involves giving clear direction from the Bible.

Preaching on current controversies can help your audience become more discerning. You show them from Scripture how God’s precepts apply to today’s world. You also help them work through a Spirit-led response when they talk about these subjects with neighbors, family members, friends and co-workers.

2. The Bible doesn’t shy away from the headlines. Both the Old Testament and New Testament touch on topics that were controversial in their day. For instance, when Jesus talked about going the extra mile in Matthew 5:41, it was a reference to the Roman occupation. And throughout Jesus’ ministry, people approached Him about His opinion on controversial matters.

Show people how today’s headlines fit into the greater narrative of God’s eternal redemptive work.

The Epistles, especially Paul’s writings, address hot-button topics. From marriage and family to politics and economics, biblical writers covered a lot of ground. If these preachers used the events of their times to teach timeless truths, so can you.

3. It can be a hook for attracting new people. Although you shouldn’t use it as a gimmick, preaching on a current event can be a way to capture your audience’s attention. And when curious people show up to hear the message, they will also encounter the Holy Spirit. If you decide to preach on a hot topic, consider advertising it to maximize your reach.

4. The events may directly affect your community. There are certain headlines that reach into the very heart of your community. They may be events that happen on the other side of the globe, but they strike a resounding note with those to whom you minister.

It may be racism, sexism, poverty, abortion or even war. Shining the light of God’s truth on these topics can help people not only heal, but also grow in their walk with Christ.

5. We need to take a stand on some issues. Sometimes you have to speak up, especially in regard to issues of morality. Graciously preach what the Bible has to say about God’s standards, always pointing to His desire to forgive, restore and change those who turn to Him.

Stay informed about what’s going on in the world, and stay sensitive to the Spirit. As you read the news, ask God for wisdom and direction. When you sense God leading you to stand up and speak out about current events, do so. It may cause controversy, backlash or a full email inbox.

But if you make the good news of the gospel the focus of your message, proclaiming the truth in love, you will also point people to Jesus.

Don’t shy away from the issues that touch the lives of the people in your congregation. Show them how today’s headlines fit into the greater narrative of God’s eternal redemptive work.


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