The Preaching Life

Barbara Brown Taylor, Canterbury Press (2013)


This is an unusual book in that the author has divided it into two distinct sections. The first concentrates on the life of faith of the individual and of the church, while the second is a series of her own sermons based on Bible texts. As Christians we are helped by her analysis of how we might preach with our lives and as preachers we are instructed by her interesting approach to biblical texts.

This book is for all, not just for preachers.

In the first section she includes some of the topics we would expect to read about living the Christian life. The call and vocation of all Christians is to take their worship and ministry of the Word and Sacrament out into a world where faith in God is no longer the rule, but the exception. For preachers there is an inspiring chapter on sermon preparation, which encouragingly reminds us that, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, ‘tin becomes gold and rocks become diamonds’. There is also a lovely chapter on imagination, which challenges us to develop ‘a willingness to be surprised, confused, amazed by the undreamt-of ways in which God chooses to be revealed to us’.

In the second section the sermons are of differing constructions, some filling out the bare bones of the biblical story in narrative style, others concentrating more on the modern application of the text. They are therefore a good source of study material for all preachers, as well as offering a wealth of sermon illustrations. Church stewards might also find them useful in preparing ‘local arrangement’ services.

There are lots of gold nuggets in this book. We need to search for them and use them in our preaching ministry as everyday Christians in the world, as well as in the church.

Review by Jenny Benfield