Thursday, May 4, 2017

Word Centered Church by Jonathan Leeman

I am very impressed with this book. I think Leeman has definitely identified a serious issue with the church in America. We give lip service to the importance of God's Word but do we really believe that it is the most powerful force in the universe? Do we really believe that it needs to be central to our church life and ministry?

Do we think the latest program will get people involved in ministry? Leeman says it is the transforming Word of God that will get people to surrender their lives and yield to Christ. This necessary work of the Word must begin in the pulpit and continue through the life of the church.

Leeman explores the theological basis for a Word centered church. He emphasizes the work the Holy Spirit does, necessary because of the condition of the unsaved man. Human persuasion or the latest glitzy program will not do it. Only the Word of God can free the sin enslaved heart. Leeman also gives some very practical suggestions to help pastors understand how to make the Word central, how to preach it and how to have it reverberate through the congregation. He includes teaching on having the Word central in singing and in prayer.

We should be looking for one thing, Leeman says, when we gather with a church: God's Word. Everything else should be “either a platform for the Word or evidence of the Word's life-changing power...” (889/1946) I wonder what would happen should a church governing body use that as a criterion for church ministry.

This is a serious issue. We are to make sure people join church because they love the gospel, not because the church is “cool.” There is a high chance someone will join a church and be deceived into thinking he is a Christian yet not be converted by the gospel. (818/1946)

I highly recommend this book to pastors and church leaders. It will challenge you to evaluate your ministry and reflect on whether you are trusting in creating the right ambiance or the power of God's Word to bring people into your church.

Food for thought: “One thing is necessary in our churches – hearing God's Word through preaching, reading, singing, and praying.” (169/1946)

Note: This book is an updated edition of the 2011 book, Reverberation: How God's Word Brings Light, Freedom, and Action to His People.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Jonathan Leeman is the editorial director of 9Marks. He has a Ph.D. In theology and has been an interim pastor. He is the author of numerous books and articles. He serves as an elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church and is an occasional lecturer at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife and their four daughters live in a suburb of Washington, D.C.

Moody Publishing, 192 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
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