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Folly, Grace, and Power: The Mysterious Act of Preaching
Zondervan / 2011 / Paperback
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When you stand before your congregation, what do you hope to accomplish as you preach God's Word? If people have Bibles and the freedom to read and pray on their own---why do they need you? In short, what do you bring to the table?
Author, pastor, and professor John Koessler answers those questions and many more in Folly, Grace, and Power: The Mysterious Act of Preaching. Why does one sermon have a powerful effect on the audience while another falls flat? Why should listeners heed what the preacher says? Is human language adequate for facilitating an encounter with God? What is the point of preaching a sermon? Folly, Grace, and Power is a must-read for pastors, seminarians, and lay leaders charged with the task of preaching God's word. This essential book is both a stern reminder of the sacredness of the awesome 'job' of being a preacher, as well as a how-to that reveals the key to speaking powerfully on God's behalf.
John Koessler has written for Discipleship Journal, Leadership, Moody Magazine, Decision, and Christianity Today. He has served as a pastor and currently is chair of the pastoral studies department at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He is the author of several books including True Discipleship and God Our Father. He holds degrees from Wayne State University, Biblical Theological Seminary, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has made numerous radio and television appearances. He lives in northern Indiana with his wife and sons.
Most preaching books read like how-to manuals. They instruct you on how to study your Bible as you prepare your sermon, they often give you helpful hints on how to use speech skills to communicate effectively, and many preaching books may give you ideas on how to be more "contemporary" or "user-friendly." For people who grown have tired of books on preaching like this, Folly, Grace, and Power by John Koessler will come as a breath of fresh air. Koessler asks and begins to answer the questions, "Just what is God doing when his Word is preached?" and "How do we understand the preaching event theologically?"
These questions are essential in our day and time. Too much of what passes for teaching and preaching in our culture is pure drivel, with all of the appeal of an infomercial. Koessler brings us back to basics in Folly, Grace, and Power, as he challenges us to notice what God does through preaching and how the act of preaching can be done in a way that honors the mysterious power and work of Jesus Christ.
Much of this text is not easy for the typical preacher to hear. Folly, Grace, and Power challenges its readers to pay more attention to what is happening when the gospel is preached, and to preach with excellence in order to please God and not to please human beings. Over and over again, in its own way, it challenges those who preach to have the courage to be honest, even when it is not easy. Koessler says toward the end of the book, "Preaching is having the last word. To preach is to take your stand before the pit and bear witness to the rubble of this ash-heap world that the kingdom of God is at hand .preaching is an eschatological act" (p. 130).
Koessler reasons that most pastors have abdicated their posts as their churchs resident theologians. At times, he argues, this is because it is difficult to bridge the gap between the theology of the academy, and the lived theology of the lay person. So pastors either chose to preach over their congregation's head, or they avoid theology entirely. Instead, Koessler encourages us to communicate good theology in ways that the average person can understand. In this sense, the pastor is a translator or intercessor of sorts between God and his people.
I believe that Folly, Grace, and Power is one of the best preaching books to come out in years. For the careful reader, it will encourage pastors and lay persons to put, "first things first." - Clint Walker, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
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