This little book, published by 10ofThose in conjunction with the FIEC, is authored by Adrian Reynolds, who currently leads the Proclamation Trust. For those of you unfamiliar with the Proc Trust, they are a wonderful bunch of conservative evangelicals committed to the preaching and teaching of Scripture. That isn’t to say that others aren’t even equally committed, but that Proc Trust are particularly passionate about it. For example, they run the ‘EMA’ each year. But I digress. This book is an accessible, readable, and enjoyable introduction to ‘giving a bible talk’. The author uses the analogy of a flight (and shamelessly riffs off the tagline that British Airways use) to offer practical pointers regarding preparation and delivery.
The analogy of a flight is at the heart of the book – and I think it really works. Echoing the nervousness that many feel when flying, Adrian engages the reader (anyone giving any kind of talk on the Bible, anywhere) in practical terms as a reassuring older voice. Imagin Han Solo sitting in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon with Rey and you’ve got the image (though, it is worth mentinoing, the authors and editors have a complementarian perspective on bible teaching, which doesn’t actually get in the way of what is being said here). The analogy holds up pretty well, with the takeoff, level flight, and landing mapping directly to the beginning, middle and end/application of a bible talk.
The subtitle of this book, ‘practical help for giving a bible talk’ demonstrates the utility of this book. This is not a book looking at well-known preachers, as Simon Vibert has written, or analysing how to preach technically different New Testament texts. This is a book looking at the nuts and bolts of delivery, and constantly and consistently reminding the reader (and potential speaker!) of what is going on and what is it for. The emphasis ‘to serve’ is helpful – Adrian is quick and regular in reminding readers that bible talks are not to glorify the talker but to serve the people listening and lift up the name of Jesus. This is a vital correction that is often not in view in discussions of leadership and preaching.
One question, particularly with the Proc Trust heritage and the FIEC logo on the front, is ‘Who is this book for?’. If you can (and you should!) get past the personal perspectives of the author and its existence in an (excellent) series edited by FIEC leaders, then this is an accessible, biblical, wise and reassuring guide to giving bible talks. If I were involved in church leadership, this would be a great way for someone to prepare for giving their first talk. This is a book for seasoned preachers too – profile does not replace truth or the Spirit, and Adrian’s reminders in this book are as much for older, ‘established’ preachers as they are for rookies or non-entitities like myself.
You can probably tell from my review that I’m a fan of this book. I think it is accessible – in that it is readable, understandable, and offers suggestions for where to go next in preparing to preach and teach the bible. I think that it is biblical – in that it takes the spotlight off the talk-giver and instead puts it onto the text and its supreme subject, Jesus. And I think that this book is wise and reassuring, an experience pilot showing the next generation – and perhaps reminding his own – about how to fly and flourish in the vital task of preaching God’s word.