Yesterday I posted a review of Al Tizon’s Missional Preaching, and upon further reflection I think I left out an important facet of the book. I wanted to redress that omission, not only because I think it’s a signifiant element of the book and I want to give it a fair shake, but also because I think it drives at a significant homiletical point.
As I mentioned in part 1 of the review, Tizon’s book isn’t really concerned with the mechanics of preaching. It repeatedly reminds the reader that it isn’t intended to be a how-to manual. Tizon’s concern is to offer a sketch of what the content of missional preaching—it’s theological emphases and goals. Tizon is pretty clear that he sees that content as being directed towards the church itself—preaching is mainly an internal conversation between believers, as God uses the preached word to shape the church for the divine mission in the world.
However, it’s not as though Tizon sees these goals or emphases as only sermon content. In other words, the homiletical shift isn’t simply a matter of exchanging one set of goals for another, as though preachers could just shift to a more missional composed manuscript and call their work missional preaching. In reality, he is offering the theology that comprises the book as a set of things that preachers need to be shaped by themselves, and then let into their preaching. He writes,
In this light, missional preaching derives its power when the communicator herself is possessed by God and God’s purposes, when she models a life committed to bearing witness to the gospel in the world. If we have not submitted wholly to the God of mission with our heads, hearts, and hands, then it would be difficult to be convincing. But when we begin to internalize God’s mission, when it becomes evident that mission has permeated our lives, then our words take on power. Only those who have become, or who are becoming, truly missional can effectively pull of missional preaching.(1)
This is an important point, because it gives you insight into what Tizon is really hoping to accomplish in this book. He’s not just out to change the speech of the church—he’s out to change the church. And that process doesn’t begin with shifted speech, but as changes began to take root in the ones who will not only offer words, but also embody and model them before the church. What he’s offering is not a point of persuasion—it’s a way of being church together. And so preaching becomes not just a way of talking, but also a way of being—this is at the very core of what I think we might describe as Tizon’s homiletic.