If the software innovations keep coming, it’s only a matter of time until Sunday morning will find parishioners using their personal computers and modems to access their worship service electronically. The pastors, of course, will be at the keyboard, transmitting the sermon (displayed onscreen and by voice — take your choice), and collecting the offerings (debiting your VISA, MasterCard, or American Express).
OK, so that’s a little far-fetched. (Never trust a preacher with your charge card number!) But things are getting pretty amazing on the technological front.
Some of the Bible study software I’ve seen in recent weeks is nothing short of remarkable. You can search for a text using topics or key words; find definitions, Hebrew or Greek roots; pull in illustrations from a separate database. About the only thing the software won’t do is give you something meaningful and insightful to say about this accumulation of data. (Wouldn’t you know that the toughest part is still left to you and the Holy Spirit?)
With the continuing development of artificial intelligence in computers, however, it’s bound to be only a matter of time before somebody markets a software package that critiques you during the preparation process.
Imagine yourself at your PC on Friday afternoon (even computers can’t keep you from procrastinating). You’re polishing Sunday morning’s homiletical jewel, when suddenly a message appears across the center of your screen:
** JOE: ARE YOU SURE POINT 2 REALLY RELATES TO YOUR THESIS? **
Of course, you already know it’s the weakest point — that’s why you put it in the middle of three points. But before you can even respond to your impudent bucket of semiconductors, another message flashes on the screen:
** AND THAT CLOSING ILLUSTRATION … PRETTY EMOTIONAL, BUT IT REALLY DOESN’T FIT WITH THE REST OF THE SERMON **
As your face begins to redden, a third message rudely interrupts:
** FRANKLY, THE INTRODUCTION IS FAIRLY WEAK. I’D SUGGEST WE START OVER ON THIS ONE **
What do you do? No question: you reach up and turn the computer off. After all, if you needed that kind of abuse, you’d have shown your sermon to the deacons already.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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