Ever been bored in church by a lackluster sermon or confusing homily? Most believers have, including Elizabeth Wright Anderson. In Thoughtful Proclaimer, Anderson aims to remedy that situation by offering a step-by-step guide to help pastors and lay people “make faith in Jesus Christ accessible” and ultimately exciting “to new generations.”
In what she calls an “inductive, question-based exegesis method,” the author offers practical ideas for speakers to improve the effectiveness of their presentations (including the thinking and writing that goes into them).
For Anderson, the foundation of solid faith communication consists of three steps: active listening; living the “Commander’s intent” (God’s ideas for us); and loving through proclamation. By asking the right questions of oneself, she argues —questions that are “personal, cultural, contextual, [and] historical” and that put the Almighty’s needs before our personal desires—we can aid God in helping us to inspire others.
Anderson is an easygoing teacher and writes from a place of authority and leadership. She offers copious real-world ideas on how to effectively prepare a sermon, and her thoughts on redemption, including her insights on the Prodigal Son story, are heartfelt and inspiring. By using anecdotes from her life, including a memorable story about how her three children responded differently to a terrible teacher she spiritedly calls Mr. Destroyer, Anderson makes abstract ideas concrete.
Yet, this gem isn’t without flaws. While her ideas are strong, the grammar sometimes falters. For example, the first line in the Preface is: “The most important thing that proclaimers of God’s Word can do is find God, the Commander’s, intent for Scripture and let it transform their lives.” More stringent copyediting would have evened out such awkward moments throughout the book.
Ultimately though, there’s much to appreciate in Thoughtful Proclaimer. Those who speak and write about God and faith will find this book valuable for its simple and operative advice.
Also available as an ebook.