Douglas Witherup, Interrobang Press (2014)
The question this book explores is one that I have been interested in for a long time. How can our preaching and teaching reflect the example Jesus set? Jesus had crowds that hung on his words, while we have crowds that count the minutes and celebrate a short sermon.
In this book, Douglas Witherup explores several aspects to Jesus’ teaching that we should consider including in ours: the use of questions, storytelling, parables, metaphors, mystery, and the work of the Holy Spirit. Each of these areas is loaded with insight that is especially challenging when looking at the common form of preaching that is found today. We have, to my knowledge, no example of Jesus giving a sermon of three sections all neatly framed by propositional statements all starting with the letter P. Instead Jesus was dynamic, unpredictable, and engaging.
In some ways this book feels like it could be further developed. I found myself asking questions that the book did not address, such as, when does our creativity go too far and slip into only teaching our ideas instead of those in the Bible? Or, where might one look for inspiration to have the needed ideas that this sort of teaching requires?
Setting aside my concerns, this is a great book for creative inspiration, or to check how your teaching might need to branch out in new directions. I found it had a good balance of content with examples to make it an easy read. I hope for more books that develop the separate areas that Witherup talks about. Many books frame preaching as either giving practical steps towards a goal, or the sermon as developing a well-argued propositional statement.
This book shows that Jesus’ preaching was often incredibly different from what is often taught today. May we preach more like Jesus.
Review by Shawn Swinney