Thursday, December 08, 2011

Book Review: The Preacher's Portrait

It's always good to engage in some reflective practice, to take time out and think - how am I getting on? It's also good to continue to be learning and growing in understanding of the task at hand. One of the books I read recently was an excellent resource at both teaching and encouraging reflection, and particularly fitting in the aftermath of the passing of 'Uncle John.'

In The Preacher's Portrait, John Stott takes five word pictures or illustrations of the gospel minister's task and expounds them from the associated Scriptures. In this volume, he considers the preacher as a steward, a herald, a witness, a father, and a servant. Now perhaps as you hear those words your mind starts buzzing with the concepts and insights - Stott goes farther.

With good, clear, Bible teaching, he takes the reader through the passages in which the description is found, showing each in its original context. As you can expect with Stott, he is thorough in his teaching, and helpful in his illustrations. Each chapter comes to a close with some application to the preacher's situation, and how it will impact on our ministry, in whatever context or situation we find ourselves in.

There was just one section where I didn't follow his argument and wasn't convinced, but that's ok - we don't have to and won't always agree with Stott or any other Bible teacher, as we're both sinful and can get things wrong (either the writer or the reader!). He seemed to apply the picture of the preacher as a witness (i.e. the preacher's experience and humility) too directly, without first considering the original apostles as the witnesses, to whom we point, using what they have witnessed and testified to as the basis of our appeal, rather than our own personal witness and experience of God's grace (important though that undoubtedly is for a preacher).

Nevertheless, this is a useful book for those in ministry, and would be a good read for a study day / retreat / time out to rethink the call to ministry and the biblical images of the preacher.

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