Missional Preaching: A Book Review

I received a review copy of Missional Preaching, by Al Tizon, from Judson Press recently. I found it a valuable resource for preachers who are attempting to present the broad range of the gospel in their preaching. I’m not a big fan of the word “missional,” to tell the truth. It seems like a buzzword, often used by denominations who are frantic to turn around dying churches. As Tizon himself points out parenthetically, the word itself may have been overused, and is not always used in the same way. But Tizon gives the word breadth and depth.

Tizon is Associate Professor of Holistic Ministry (a great title!) at Palmer Theological Seminary near Philadelphia. He’s an evangelical with a passion for the whole gospel. There’s something here to challenge (or offend…) all across the spectrum, not necessarily a bad thing. Those on the more conservative side may balk at his powerful commitment to the social element of the gospel or his opposition to capital punishment. Those on the more liberal side, may not like his defense of the particularity of the gospel or his anti-abortion stance. I hesitate to pull out these traditional right/left litmus-test issues, but I do so to show the range of issues he discusses in the book. This book is an illustration of the way some of the old dichotomies are breaking down, for the good of the church.

While I don’t always agree with Tizon on the issues, I found it inspiring to take in the breadth of his vision for the mission of the church. He addresses cross-cultural connection, a called-out church, holistic transformation, justice anrd reconciliation, stewardship not only of our finances but of the planet, life and peace and the uniqueness of Christ. He includes after each chapter a sample sermon on the topic at hand by preachers such as Shane Claiborne and Ron Sider, to mention the ones I was familiar with. The sermons are fine examples of broadly mission-oriented evangelical preaching.

I can just about guarantee you won’t like everything in this book. I think that’s a good thing, and I recommend the book. It will make you think, and examine your preaching for its relevance to the world we live in.

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