But to add a bit to the discussion, here is something that Lee Strobel wrote a few years back that exposes the abuse of contextualization: John Stott once said that good preaching begins in the Bible and then builds a bridge to the real world, which I think is true for believers, because they trust the Bible. Often for seekers, however, I find that the reverse works: I begin in the real world, connecting with their needs, and show them that I do understand where they've been and where they are. Based on that, I show the relevance of Scripture. I build a bridge from the real world into the world of Scripture.
Pastors who are obsessed with this approach treat the whole worship service as if we are in New York Square. In a Better Way Michael Horton asks these provoking questions, "Is it possible for the message to remain what it is if we must make it immediately intelligible to those who are currently "strangers and aliens" to it? And if the message if made something other than that gospel which "is the power of God unto salvation," are we doing anybody any favors by trying to make it as inoffensive to and indistinguishable from their present existence "under the sun"?
The real issue here is how we understand Paul's call "to become all things to all people." I contend, along with Jason, Horton and others, that God has already built this bridge for us, from the Word to the hearer, when the God appointed messenger proclaims the crucified body and shed blood of his son. Simplistic? Even worse, it is foolishness--as God calls it. But at least I can rest confident that the excellency of the power belongs to him and not us. Anything else is severely compromised. The results belong to Christ anyway. What think you?