Jonathan Leeman is a "churchman" and 9 Marks ministry is committed to the importance of the local church. Together they have combined to provide a number of helpful resources for church leaders who sense the need to recover the New Testament pattern of practical ecclesiology. Methods and gimmicks for church revitalization have been tried and found wanting by well-meaning pastors and their staffs for the past several decades. Leeman's suggestion is both simple and profound: make the Word of God central and allow it to "reverberate" like a sound wave in every aspect of the church's life. Perhaps the most valuable part of the book for pastors is the section that deals with "the sermon." No matter how long one has been preparing and preaching sermons, he never "masters" his trade. There is always the need to take stock of the effectiveness of his ministry. Leeman serves to remind pastors that it is God's Word, faithfully exposited, that the Lord uses to change lives. The author also urges local assemblies to evaluate other aspects of the church's life when it gathers to worship (such as singing and praying) and then scatters (evangelizing and discipling). Leeman's writing style is clear yet challenging. This book is recommended for those who may not have been able to tackle his "The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love" or as a helpful follow-up to that title.
I received this book as a review copy from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. This work was something about which I had heard some time ago prior to requesting it as a review copy. Leeman is involved with Nine Marks, which is a para-church organization that grew out of the local church ministry of Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Nine Marks produces some very high quality resources for the church. The resources are certainly reformed, congregational, and baptistic. Overall, I appreciate what Nine Marks does.
Prior to reading this book I have read articles by Leeman and listened to interviews he has done. He comes across as humble but unwavering in his biblical convictions. In Reverberation he says some very important things about the sufficiency of Scripture. Leeman holds to the doctrines of total depravity, election, and irresistible grace with which I am personally in agreement. As a result of such convictions, Leeman looks at Isaiah 55:10-11 and rightly recognizes that God's Word always accomplishes His will. At times the Word brings judgment, and other times it brings repentance and salvation. Leeman does not entirely dispose of ministry strategy, architecture, musical style, and attire. But, he does properly regard those things as subordinate to the place God's Word should have in the church. He continually points to the Holy Spirit's use of Scripture to bring light, life, and freedom to hearers. Everything else is secondary and should be seen as such. Leeman calls for a proper perspective in local churches.
Jonathan Leeman seeks throughout the remainder of the book to expound the implications and applications of such a Bible-centered life and ministry. The Word reverberates through preaching, teaching, singing, praying, and discipleship. As we study and are taught the Word, it informs how we should think and live. The Word determines what is true and proper for believers. Leeman argues that Scripture should effect everything we do. Our conversations away from church gatherings - in the home, workplace, coffee shop - should be filled with and guided by Spirit-enabled application of God's Word.
Sadly, this book is extremely necessary today. Leeman communicates nothing ground-breaking, nor does he intend to do so. He writes what genuine believers, who have held to the sufficiency and authority of Scripture, have practiced and called others to do so for almost 2,000 years. It appears to be a battle that must be fought in each generation. This is a quality book and message.
The book is a book about expository preaching and the sufficiency of God's Word to change people. The thesis and premise of the book is solid throughout, especially within the beginning pages of the text. Overall, the text does magnify the Word of God and gives the reader a deep appreciation of the scriptures. The book is a tool to encourage readers to find their hunger, thirst, and ultimate satisfaction in the truth, power and feast of God's Word. Leeman did an excellent job in protruding forth the power of the Holy scriptures. Leeman was sound and clear in his approach of writing about The Word, The Sermon, & The Reverberation Effect.
However, like other readers have noted, Leeman does take numerous jabs at the evangelical church (as a whole) throughout the book. One must understand that just because a church offers programs, various ministries, does not imply that the Word is not the focal point of it all or central to the overarching purpose of the existence of that local congregation. Perhaps these ministries are a part of the reverberation effect that the Word has on it's hearers/doers.
As for preaching, this book would be a great tool of refreshment to the pastor's soul as well as a source of an eye-opener to the layman, who needs to reminded of the power and sufficiency of the scriptures. Whoever reads this book, will find themselves with a greater appreciation and a renewed hunger for the Word of God, therefore, finding themselves growing in the grace & knowledge of the Lord, Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
I was provided this book from http://mpnewsroom.com/ for the purpose of review. The above thoughts are my own.
In recent years Evangelicalism has experienced a pattern of church growth with an emphasis on methodology using a cultural outreach strategy. In his book "Reverberation," Jonathan Leeman establishes the premise that "God's Word working through God's Spirit, is God's primary instrument for growing God's church."
In a natural progression Leeman presents the evangelist, the theological foundation of the Word, the individual's heart, the local church, the sermon, and role of the Word in music, prayer, discipleship, and mission. He demonstrates why we can have faith in God's Word to "create, sustain, and empower daily obedience to the Word." He warns of the danger of the growing loss of confidence in God's Word among Evangelicals.
Leeman's writing is Biblically sound, thorough in presentation, analytical, and convincing in content. "Reverberation: How God's Word Brings Light, Freedom, and Action to His People" is important and timely in light of the recent emphasis on contextualizing, spiritual formation, renewal, and the missional church.