Al Tizon (Ph.D) is associate professor of holistic ministry at Palmer Theological Seminary and author of Missional Preaching. Heis also the director of Word & Deed Network of the Evangelicals for Social Action.
Preaching as Mission
Missional Preaching is broken into two parts: Essentials of Missional Preaching (theology) and The Goals of Missional Preaching (practice). The first part is nicely done. Tizon provides a concise theology of missional church addressing the missio Dei, a biblical theology of mission, which culminates in the teleology of mission–worship. It is clear that Tizon has a grasp of missiology, providing ample footnotes and clarifying detail, e.g. Karl Barth did not coin the Missio Dei. Throughout he emphasizes the important role of preaching, not our methodology, in the mission of the church. Tizon concludes:
We preach with the aim to make disciples. We preach to cultivate a church of missional worshippers and worshipping missionaries.
In this section, he borrows from Marva Dawn’s idea that “preaching should kill us.” A provocative thought. It should put to death the old self whose incessant pursuit of comfort disrupts worshipful discipleship. Preaching should, of course, also bring us life. His emphasis on the integrity of the preacher is also sharp. We should live what we preach. However, the gospel also exists for the preacher because no preacher can live everything he or she preaches with perfection. Preachers need Jesus too.
Goals of Preaching
This section charts a course for missional preaching by setting 7 Goals and providing sermon examples along the way, a great idea. The seven goals are:
- Preaching for Inculturation
- Preaching for Alternative Community
- Preaching for Holistic Transformation
- Preaching for Justice and Reconciliation
- Preaching for Whole-Life Stewardship
- Preaching for Shalom
- Preaching the Scandal of Jesus
This book will challenge the preacher to live the message. It will push the boundaries of many. The example sermons include men and women, pastors and non-pastors, and a diversity of voices (primarily from the evangelical left). It would have been nice to see examples from some of the preaching greats of our time, and how they do or do not fit into Tizon’s theology and goals. Moreover, it would have also been nice to see how “missional preaching” compares with “Christ-centered preaching”. Tizon clearly adores Jesus and wants preachers to preach from their love of God in Christ. More attention to this would have been nice. Nevertheless, this book can serve as a helpful stretch to those who prefer to preach theologically, while leaving missional preaching to one or two Sundays a year. It is also helpful to give missional direction for any preacher, noting categories and goals for sermons. A missional preaching Evaluation Form is even included at the back.