a transformative simplicity

It all started with wanting to describe the kind of preacher we wanted to produce, under God's gracious hand, through Langham Preaching's ministry. We settled on five descriptions:
(a) confident in conviction;
(b) faithful to the text;
(c) clear in presentation;
(d) relevant to the audience;
(e) Christlike in character.

Then we moved across to our curriculum. The work had grown so quickly and spread so widely that people were just getting on and 'doing what was right in their own eyes'. More often than not, this was good - very good. However we realised we needed to find a greater 'common page' in our training so that it is clear who we are, what we stand for - and what we are trying to achieve. We are working on this one right now and these same five descriptions are guiding us.

As this was happening we decided to build a small library of simple books that target these same five descriptions. Pieter, my colleague over in Langham Literature, notes how 'A book has a long life. Books outlive their authors ... sometimes by thousands of years.' We don't want to be caught understating the transformative influence of simple books, even in semi-literate and post-literate settings.

And so our friends over in Langham Literature commenced a new publishing imprint for us and called it Langham Preaching Resources (LPR). Every year we package up what has been published in the previous twelve months and send those packages as a gift to all our regional coordinators and country coordinators around the world (about 80 people). They are encouraged 'to take up and read' - and then let us know which of the books could be transformative for their preachers and then let's get them translated.

Here are some of the highlights so far:

Confident in Conviction
The early John Stott classic (from 1961), The Preacher's Portrait, has been (lightly) updated and simplified. The five word studies are still there - steward, herald, witness, father, servant - but an Introduction has been added in which the issue of 'what a preacher is not' is addressed. In the opening sentence of his Foreward, Ajith Fernando writes that this book is 'among the three or four most influential books in my life'.

Greg Scharf's Relational Preaching is unique in the field. 113 short reflections which commence with scripture and climax with prayer - and, in between, he builds a simple theology of preaching, one meditation at a time. It was one of the early LPR books and it has already been updated, revised and expanded by Greg. As with all the books under this descriptor, it reminds the preacher that there is more to preaching than techniques. There are convictions. They hold us and never let us go.



Faithful to the Text
Like his New Testament counterpart (N.T. Wright), Old Testament scholar Chris (O. T.) Wright has the rare skill of being able to write scholarly stuff - and yet, at other times, to linger with those of us who need something more simple and clear. Nowhere could this be more true than with Sweeter Than Honey, his book on preaching from the Old Testament. It has won awards under a different title - but let it be known that it was conceived and born into the LPR family first!

This post was sparked by the arrival of the New Testament counterpart to Sweeter Than Honey. A title inspired by Psalm 19.10 is complemented by one inspired by 1 Peter 1.12: What Angels Long to Read. Yes, Mark Meynell's much anticipated book on preaching from the New Testament has now been published. While Mark's refreshing creativity leaks into every page, he has also worked hard to target the simplicity that is the feature of the LPR imprint.

One more book to highlight. A slim volume by Geoff New: Live, Listen, Tell. Our Latin American friends commence an engagement with the Bible passage with 'praying the Word'. It is the ancient practice of lectio divina in a contemporary guise. Working with Luke 24, Geoff provides some guidelines on lectio divina (and Ignatian Gospel Contemplation) for the preacher. Those concerned about accuracy and exegesis (as we all are) needn't worry, as there is still time to address these matters after this opening engagement with the Word of God.



Clear in Presentation
The founding and pioneering director of Langham Preaching, Jonathan Lamb, has written The Dynamics of Biblical Preaching. What is so cool about this book is that we Langhamites can overhear our training on every page. It is part of Jonathan's legacy to us. But he has written it in a way that others can benefit as well. It covers the journey from text to sermon with his customary simplicity and clarity. [NB: In the 'West' it has been published by IVP as Preaching Matters]. If you know someone wanting to get started in biblical preaching, this is the book for them - a point I tried to make in my fuller review here.


Relevant to the Audience
There is lots of work to be done here. We want more Majority World authors under every heading, but we need them here, especially. Our first publication has been Zambian pastor, Conrad Mbewe's Pastoral Preaching. In it he pleads for the biblical preaching that builds the church and matures it. A lot of things are going on: he draws on his decades of experience as one of Africa's finest preachers; he attends to many practical matters that all preachers encounter; and he sets the book within the African context.

A feature of the Langham Literature catalogue is the priority it gives to Majority World authors. Take a look. It is stunning. We have similar dreams for LPR - but we have a long way to go. Filipino Rico Villanueva's It's Okay Not to be Okay (on the Psalms of Lament, republished with LPR) is now available. We have access to Nigerian Femi Adeleye's Preachers of a Different Gospel - and we hope Colombian Milton Acosta's work on Hosea and Corruption is not too far away.


Christlike in Character
Alongside Greg Scharf's Relational Preaching, the book in this area that is being circulated widely among our preaching movements is Chris Wright's simple little exposition on the Fruit of the Spirit, Becoming Like Jesus. What better way to commence a focus on character as a priority than to have a book with this focus? Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-Control. They are all there, one chapter at a time.


In addition to these volumes, we are producing collections of sermons which seek to model these features. Along with producing more publications from Majority World authors, we also want to add books by women and books written directly in and for mother-tongue languages, rather than coming to people only via the English (which is being done already with numerous languages: French, Spanish, Chinese, Indonesian etc). And with all of them, we are targeting a simplicity, a transformative simplicity.

nice chatting

Paul

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Comments

Heather said…
Brilliant! I've book-marked this post in the hope of being able to gift some of these books in the future :-)
Paul Windsor said…
Thanks, Heather. Make sure you flick through the Langham Literature catalogue. It is amazing what they are doing with authors from the Majority World...
Paul Windsor said…
Actually - you can sign up to receive regular newsletters from Langham Literature. Click on this link: http://tinyurl.com/y7zhwgjz

Paul
Heather said…
Done - thank you :-)
Tim Bulkeley said…
Paul,

Getting appropriate literature to those who can use it is so important!

I am not sure if I talked with you about this idea https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-TPACGdChk but it strikes me that something along these lines might be an interesting way of broadening the impact of these books also to pastors who do not find English a really easy and natural language.

I am still convinced that it could have legs in many areas where more formal print publications may never reach.

God bless,

Tim

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