Every now and then I need to read a book on preaching. It’s so easy to slip into a default way of bringing the Word to people. The preacher gets comfortable and the people get comfortable. Everyone knows what to expect. It will sound like this and end like that.
I want to be a continual learner about the art and craft of bringing alive the Word of God so that people meet the Word of God (Jesus) through my words. So it’s good to try and read, listen to people who are ahead of you and different from you. So I picked up one of the many preaching books I have on my shelves but haven’t yet read.
This book contains several of William H Willimon’s sermons and then people discussing why Willimon is a great preacher. Marva Dawn & Stanley Hauerwas are among the contributors which is a compliment.
There aren’t many contemporary Methodists that I would list as influences now, but Willimon would be one of them. He believes the Gospel (in much the same way Wesley did), he preaches in a way that disturbs the comfortable and comforts the disturbed. I enjoyed reading why he is a great preacher and that has made me think about my own preaching.
So why is Willimon so well regarded among US preachers? A few reasons seemed apparent
- He is a master storyteller. I’m not sure how good I am at this and would love to be better
- He doesn’t qualify every challenge. He leaves the challenges of Jesus raw, lets them have impact. That makes him memorable and a robust challenging voice in contemporary culture
- He picks up on the unusual, the odd, the unique in scripture and has a way of putting the spotlight on that, that in turn puts God’s spotlight on us.