At the moment I am working at training up new preachers. I am always looking for new resources to help preachers understand what they are supposed to be doing. In the past I have always relied on Haddon Robinson’s Exegetical Preaching. It’s good for working out what is in a text and how to communicate it. If preaching is about message, method and manner, Robinson is great for message and OK for method.
I was hoping that To Fly To Serve by Adrian Reynolds would come through for me. It did….and it didn’t. If you like, it made it to the runway, but only just.
To Fly To Serve is a part of a series of books that is being produced by the UK FIEC (as opposed to the Australian FIEC) to help people in ministry. Reynolds is upfront in that like me, he thinks there are lots of books that will help with developing a message but this book is about developing the method of communicating your sermon (my words, not his). It should be said, that Reynolds works for The Proclamation Trust, so you would expect he knows a thing or two about preaching.
The title is apparently borrowed from British Airways, I don’t fly much so I have to take his word for it. The whole book takes the metaphor of commercial flight, with the preacher as the pilot and the congregation as the passengers, and applies it to preaching from take off to landing.
What I liked:
Simply speaking there were three things I like about it. Firstly, it was short. I need something short. One of the problems with using Robinson is that new preachers are reading the text, commentaries and then I give them an overwhelming book on preaching. This is 54 small pages long.
Secondly, it was simple. Again this is what I am looking for. I don’t want a lot of options, I want one simple explanation and having the metaphor of flight made the whole thing readable and simple. It was addressed to new preachers, though experienced ones could learn a lot from getting the basics right. It didn’t try and do a comprehensive book on preaching, but focused on method, which is where new preachers often need to focus. It is both pragmatic and practical, not seeking to be theological.
Thirdly and most importantly, it made its point. The point is that a sermon should be journey and destination (i.e. the point) should be the thing that is remembered, not the turbulence (i.e. distractions).
What was missing:
But the book could have done with some improving. I sometimes found that we spent more time the metaphor of commercial flight than on how it helped us in preaching, but again that might be because I don’t fly much.
What would have helped the book was to show us how this all worked. Reynolds at times, referred to a sermon he had preached on Luke 5:27-39. It would have been good to have the sermon in the book with comments. Even comments like “See how I got that wrong here. It should have been…”
Final Boarding Call:
The ultimate question is, would I use this in training other preachers? The simple answer is yes, but only because I have never found anything else that really looks at method in a simple and short format.
To Fly To Serve is available from the Wandering Bookseller.