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Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today Paperback – May 18, 1982
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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From the Back Cover
Between Two Worlds challenges both pastors and laypersons to restore health and vitality to the church and encourages them to give themselves wholeheartedly to their calling.
About the Author
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John Stott's Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today is a comprehensive tool for the student of preaching or the various forms of church communication. By comprehensive, this writer means that his text begins with a concise but thorough history of preaching, addresses the contemporary issues and theological foundations of preaching, and finally moves to a handful of chapters on practical tools, helps, and applications. From beginning to end, Stott combines years of experience, research, and a wide-breath of knowledge of the art and science of communication within the realm of preaching.
Although Stott does not outline the book this way, the reader can see four major categories. The first major category is the history of preaching and the effect history (i.e. society developing) has had or will have on preaching (chapters one and two). The next section is the theological foundations of preaching (chapter three). The third section deals with the art and practice needed for being a communicator of the Bible, with ideas such as study, knowing the audience, and sermon preparation (chapters four through six). Finally, the last two chapters bring about essential qualities the communicator should possess and live out as a preacher of God's Word (chapters eight and nine).
The most advantageous strength of this book is the breath of knowledge Stott bring to the discussion. Although the book was written in the early nineteen eighties, Stott was beginning to address issues that are now coming to full fruition. Of note, his discussion on cybernetics and the digital age and the effect it was having and will continue to have on preaching and the church is engaging. This writer would like to know Stott's thought on newer venues of preaching being used today for multisite churches and Internet campuses. His research and thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of television and digital media continue to hold true almost twenty years later. Will the Internet church/campus face the same challenges for the engagement of viewers and listeners twenty years later as television has? Can community be built online? Stott has created a primer to begin to answer these questions, but it will take the astute learner to carry his work forward.
Another strength of the book is the multitude of footnotes that reference further study materials. The serious student can validate Stott's claims by the solid research he has already done, or further their own studies by exploring the plethora of references. Other books in this category can weigh heavily on the personality-practical side of the tools the particular author has defined and is promoting. This simply creates copycat styles of preaching and communicating from a successful preacher to one who would desires to be successful. Stott provides some of his own preferences, but spends more time providing tool for the student to discover and implement for their self. In this writer's opinion, the world can use more unique and authentic preachers in the church's pulpit.
Often, a strength can also be perceived as a weakness. Although the book is full of footnotes and references, this can create a staunch, academic feel. Further, Stott's style of writing, in this particular book, seems wordy and at times heavy. His style, at times, flows well, but the reader can get flustered by the frequent footnotes and research that requites the reader to do more research to fully understand and appreciate how Stott came to some of his conclusions. If the student is looking for a quick, practical read, they might need to take advantage of Howard Hendrick's Living by the Book instead of Stott's Between Two Worlds. In other words, the style of the book could limit those who try to tackle her principles.
Another weakness could also be the age of the book. Written in 1982, much has change in the world of the church and the art of biblical communication. Although most principles throughout the book are universal, chapters that deal with the information age are dated. Albeit, his research, even when done in the early eighties captured this writer's attention and caused serious reflection on the effects of the information age on preaching and teaching. Thus, how would Stott address the mass amounts of web-based development, Internet campuses, video teachings, and social media tools that permeate every area of church life and spiritual formation in our Wi-Fi frenzied society? It may be unfair to ask this of Stott, but if the student comes to this text looking for answers they could easily leave wanting more.
This writer has encountered Stott before through his prolific writing career. Many of his commentaries have provided ample information for my sermon preparation and academic research. His books continue to stand the test of time and pass rigorous academic standards that are pressed upon books in the categories, which he writes. Between Two Worlds will be a book I continue to go back to year after year during my tenure as a biblical communicator.
Of specific benefit are the final chapters that define the competencies and qualities needed in a solid communicator of the Scripture. Overtime, people will develop the process that fit their personality and styles of study and sermon preparation, but understanding the competencies that are needed are more universal. Sincerity and authenticity in the pulpit was key to this writer coming to know the Lord and desiring to follow Jesus. Humor in the messages, or even in teachings, when used appropriately, has opened my heart to accept difficult truths. Learning from Stott's research and experience has reminded me again of the type of preacher I want to be. Thus, Between Two Worlds has truly begun to bridge the gap for me between preaching the ancient scriptures in a manner that honors the Bible and the contemporary listener.