Preaching across Platforms: An Invitation to Preaching Agility

Woman demonstrating agility by hurdling on track
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Preaching is a practice, not a place

What is preaching? This question has plagued my curiosity and practice for years now. Preaching has often been signified by pulpit and the formality of church worship. Terms like “That’ll preach” are used to point towards something that’s “like” preaching but not actually preaching.1 However, who says it’s not?

In my work I have witnessed that the preachers who consider their call to preach a call to a practice, not just a pulpit, have the potential for incredible impact beyond Sunday morning.  In our world today, we need faith leaders who proclaim across platforms, preaching toward a more whole and well world in the public square as well as the pulpit.

What is preaching agility?

I was always taught agility was one of the most critical attributes to have as an athlete. My coaches would run agility exercises, making sure we could pivot well and that our muscles for quick movements in a changing game were strong.

Preaching agility is the commitment to new rhetorical muscles, spreading the invitation of justice, hope, peace, and abundant love through practices of proclamation at protests, nonprofits, city council meetings, social media, open mics, and other platforms. As preachers, we are in a changing game. Pastors are invited to preach week after week to a group of listeners with questions, wonderings, and curiosity about what it might mean to live the gospel. Yet, to stay in the pulpit and not go elsewhere limits the parameters of sacred speech. Can God’s breathing word not be spoken in new ways and in more places?

So, now what?

Preachers! We need your voices across platforms. This is not an invitation to go into spaces in which you are a guest and take over. This is an invitation to believe so much in the gospel we preach, that we know that its work and words require a practice that is not confined by walls.  It is an invitation to listen deeply and proclaim widely.

You don’t always have to take a text, but when you speak of dignity, the undercurrent might be Psalm 139:14. You won’t always offer an explicit Christological unpacking, but when you offer a worldview of love that looks like justice and inviting folks into a practice that looks like that, it sounds a lot like Jesus.

Below are some strategies to begin thinking about your preaching beyond/within the pulpit.

Five strategies for preaching across platforms

1. Answer this question: What is preaching for me?

The truth is, those of us who are rhetorically agile are not just able to move across spaces well, but within our primary space, stronger proclaimers as well. Having proclaimed in the public square will shift and guide how you preach in the pulpit. When you are partnered with activists, community organizers, and other community members doing the hard work through genuine relationships, you can be trusted to speak. Knowing what you mean, when you say “I am called to ‘preach’” is paramount.

2. Clarify what you need to know about each platform.

Some questions to consider:

    • How can I be hospitable to the many perspectives in the room and still remain grounded in integrity toward my own?
    • Who is already proclaiming and working here? How can I be a partner in the ongoing work?
    • What do I need to learn to speak on this?
    • What’s the time frame for effective communication here?
    • What’s the theological message? What sacred texts might connect, even implicitly?

3. Be present for the practice alongside the proclamation.

Practicing what you preach is always critical. Preachers, we are called to a life of the work, not just the moment. If you are talking about justice from the pulpit, but none of the community organizers in your area know who you are, that’s a problem. We must all do the work to learn and live into the vision that we proclaim.

4. Consider the exigency.

Exigency is a rhetorical term that invites us to ask, “What am I responding to and will words impact change?” Effective preaching is responding to something. This will help clarify what needs to be said and shape your words in a way that attends to the issue or concern at hand. I suggest Preaching the Headlines by Lisa L. Thompson for resources on doing this well.

5. Make sure you have a squad.

Community for accountability, co-conspiring and support is a crucial piece of an effective preaching life. Having a squad of people that hold you accountable and hold you in love is a conduit for courage and offers you a wider perspective than your own. While you receive this good love, make sure you’re a good member of others’ squad as well.

I pray we each have the courage to cultivate our call, try something different and stretch our practice. Each preacher’s voice, word, and piece in the ecosystem of proclaimers is important. I believe we will see something new in our practice and in our world when we see our preaching both in and beyond the pulpit.


  1. See “An Icon of Exclusion: Deconstructing the Pulpit Through the Homiletical Practice of Black Women,” by Chelsea Yarborough in Unmasking White Preaching: Racial Hegemony, Resistance and Possibilities in Homiletics edited by Lis Valle-Ruiz and Andrew Wymer (Lexington Books, 2022).
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Festival of Homiletics 2024

May 13-16 | Pittsburgh (or digitally from anywhere)

The 2024 Festival of Homiletics is an invitation to lean into a little self-love. Hear from some of the voices of our time, including Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Pádraig Ó Tuama, Neichelle Guidry, Brian McLaren, and Angela Dienhart Hancock, and more! Experience inspiring worship along with time for reflection, renewal, and remembering – to recall once again the why for what we do.