Preaching to a Divided Nation

A Seven-Step Model for Promoting Reconciliation and Unity

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We live in angry times. No matter where we go, what we watch, or how we communicate, our culture is rife with division and polarization. Unfortunately, Christians appear to be caught up in the same animosity as the culture at large. While our faith calls us to Christian unity, the hard fact remains: our churches are tragically divided across class, ethnic, gender, and political lines. As these social chasms grow--both inside and outside the church--the role of the preacher becomes paramount.

This book issues a prophetic call to pastors to use the influence of their pulpits to promote reconciliation and unity in their churches and communities. Two scholar-practitioners who are experts in homiletics and reconciliation present a practical, 7-step model that empowers faithful leaders to bring healing and peace to their fractured churches and world. The book includes questions for reflection, salient illustrations, and an accountability covenant. It also includes useful appendixes on preaching themes, preaching texts, and sample sermons from three leading preachers: Ralph Douglas West, Rich Villodas, and Sandra Maria Van Opstal. 

Contents
Introduction
1. The Theological Step: The Sins of Pride and Prejudice
2. The Contextual Step: America's Past and Present Reality
3. The Personal Step: Facing Our Sin and Acknowledging Our Prejudices
4. The Positional Step: We Are Heralds, Not Heart-Changers
5. The Methodological Step: A Homiletic for Reconciliation and Unity
6. The Practical Step: Pre-Sermon, Mid-Sermon, and Post-Sermon Practices
7. The Categorical Step: Biblical Themes and Texts
Conclusion
Appendix A: Reflections on Critical Race Theory
Appendix B: Sample Homiletical Integrity Covenant
Appendix C: Essential and Nonessential Doctrines, and Gospel Implications
Appendix D: Sample Multichurch Prayer and Unity Service
Appendix E: Ministries Pursuing Reconciliation and Unity
Appendix F: Further Reading
Appendix G: Sample Sermons
On Classism by Paul A. Hoffman
On Ethnocentrism by Ralph Douglas West
On Political Division by Rich Villodas
On Reconciliation by Sandra María Van Opstal
On Sexism by Paul A. Hoffman
On Unity by Matthew D. Kim
Index


Endorsements

"Pastors to diverse church communities always deeply feel the tension of congregants' varied backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, and politics. But when our people start welcoming, loving, and serving one another across the lines of difference because of Christ, it makes living in the tension not only worthwhile but sacred. To help preachers in our role as facilitators of such communities, Kim and Hoffman have provided a wonderful field guide. I can't recommend Preaching to a Divided Nation highly enough."

Scott Sauls, senior pastor, Christ Presbyterian Church; author of A Gentle Answer and Beautiful People Don't Just Happen

"An issue that matters today is our divided nation, filled with too many divided churches and divided Christians. That is clear to all. For those of us who call Jesus Christ our Lord, we also know the prayer of Jesus 'that they may be one' (John 17:22). But how do we do this? We start with the single most influential time in the church each week: the sermon. But how do we do that practically? In Preaching to a Divided Nation, Matthew Kim and Paul Hoffman give a useful framework to confront the division in our time with preaching grounded in the Bible's story line and founded on the redemptive work of Christ."

Ed Stetzer, Wheaton College

"Preaching to a Divided Nation is a must-read for twenty-first-century Christian leaders. Kim and Hoffman offer an excellent road map for preachers, teachers, and leaders on how to use their voice, pulpit, and platform to heal our country's divides. Get this book and read it with your church staff today!"

Michelle Ami Reyes, vice president of the Asian American Christian Collaborative; author of Becoming All Things

"Matthew Kim and Paul Hoffman know well the challenges facing pulpits in fostering true unity among believers. Rightly, they exhort faithful homileticians to listen to various social perspectives as a means of informing authentic Christian preaching. More now than ever, the preacher's personal development as an emotionally, culturally, and historically intelligent shepherd contributes to the ability to proclaim the Scriptures in a way that makes the church a greater agent of righteousness and love in society. For the sake of the healing of divided nations everywhere, may all preachers eagerly hear this exhortation with ears of grace."

Eric C. Redmond, professor of Bible, Moody Bible Institute

"In such a polarizing and fractious time, Christian preachers need resources that bridge divides and remind us that God makes a way out of no way. Thankfully, Matthew Kim and Paul Hoffman's timely new book gives us both. Preaching to a Divided Nation is grounded in theory, saturated with Scripture, centered on the gospel, informed by practice, and infused with hope. Job well done!"

Jared E. Alcántara, professor of preaching, Paul W. Powell Endowed Chair in Preaching, Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University

"In a polarized and hostile political, racial, and economic context, preaching has become a challenging and delicate pastoral art. With one simple sentence or sound bite, pastors risk unintentionally dividing their flock in a way that harms not only the local church but also the soul of the pastor. Division hurts all of us. Kim and Hoffman provide a theological framework for preaching while also guiding the pastor to remember that we are but heralds, not heart changers. We've needed a book like this for a long time now, and it comes just in time. If you want a framework for preaching that leads to reconciliation instead of division, this one's for you!"

Tara Beth Leach, author of Emboldened and Radiant Church

"Preaching has become something of a dreaded task. With self-appointed authorities declaring on social media what pastors should and should not address--and telling people to leave their churches if pastors don't say the supposed right thing--the pastor bears the impossible task of speaking God's Word to a disinterested and divided world. In a day where cultural land mines abound, the preacher can either dismiss the concerns of her congregation as invalid or irrelevant or become a prisoner to the narratives and perspectives of the moment. Kim and Hoffman give us a better way. They excavate a treasury of theological resources to address the chief causes of division and map the terrain of our cultural dynamics and historical context. They teach us to become aware of our own lens as preachers and to rely on the Spirit to breathe the Word of God to the people of God. The result is a stunning, scholarly, current, and critical guide for preachers to take seriously the complexity of preaching in a rapidly changing world."

Glenn Packiam, lead pastor, New Life Downtown; author of The Resilient Pastor

"Our world is divided, our rhythms are disrupted, and the church is distracted. Nothing has more potential to unify us than the life-changing message of the gospel. Kim and Hoffman's approach to preaching is practical and attainable. I'm grateful for their effort in training pastors to bring the redemptive power of the gospel in relevant ways to their communities."

Scott Ridout, president, Converge


The Authors

  1. Matthew D. Kim

    Matthew D. Kim

    Matthew D. Kim (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is professor of practical theology and holder of the Hubert H. and Gladys S. Raborn Chair of Pastoral Leadership at Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University, in Waco, Texas. He previously served as...

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  2. Paul A. Hoffman
    Marie Guagliardo Photography

    Paul A. Hoffman

    Paul A. Hoffman (PhD, University of Manchester) is senior pastor of Evangelical Friends Church of Newport, Rhode Island. He serves on the Oversight Board for the Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region, is an adjunct professor at Barclay College, and is the...

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