I just began Jonathan Leeman’s book, Reverberation, and it is quickly become one of my favorite books on ministry. He is blending theology into a practical vision of ministry that is utterly captivating and inspiring. In a recent interview, Leeman explains why he wrote the book. He says, “Christians and church leaders need continual reminders of the goodness and power of God’s Word. It’s a battle for faith. My hope is that this book will help grow believers in faith by offering a description of the power of God’s Word and demonstrating how God’s Word reverberates through the church, giving life to all its parts.”
You can listen to an interview with Leeman (and Shai Linne) about the power of God’s Word and his book. For now, though, here’s a larger snapshot of the mindset of the book:
What’s absolutely necessary for life and growth? Answer: God’s Word working through God’s Spirit. Somebody has to pick up a Bible and read it. And someone has to explain it so that people will understand it. When this happens, the Spirit begins to work upon people’s hearts, causing them to believe the words and give a proper weight to them. The people then repeat the words in their songs and prayers. They discover, most remarkably, that they can speak to God as guided by these biblical words. They also repeat the words of God to one another throughout the week. They help each other discern His will for their lives. Then their lives begin to be shaped by the words, so that they begin to live differently at work and at home. They discover that these words are life-giving, hope-giving, and love-producing. So they run and call others who have not yet heard these words to hear them. Words produce actions, and then those actions and words work together to give witness to the power of God to salvation, a salvation that begins now and stretches into eternity….
God can and does use microphones, charismatic leaders, bulletins, a pleasant ambiance, and sometimes, perhaps, denominational structures. The point is, none of these things is necessary, because none of these things is the source of a church’s life and growth. They’re all extraneous or instrumental, and we cannot let them jump to the top of the priority list….
I’m glad that we Christians affirm the authority of God’s Word in our theology books. But now we need to fight for faith in His Word, particularly in how we approach what’s central in our churches. Church leaders need to fight for faith in His Word. Christians need to fight for such faith. It’s all too easy to put our faith in the things which more visibly and immediately draw people….
This book, however, hopes to illustrate that the “ministry of the Word” indeed begins in the pulpit, but then it must continue through the life of the church as members echo God’s Word back and forth to one another. The word reverberates, as in an echo chamber. In a real echo chamber, sound reverberates off walls. In the church, it’s the hearts of people that both absorb and project the sounds of His effectual Word….
The evangelist or the preacher opens his mouth and utters a word, God’s Word. But the Word doesn’t sound just once. It echoes or reverberates. It reverberates through the church’s music and prayers. It reverberates through the conversations between elders and members, members and guests, older Christians and younger ones. God’s words bounce around the life of the church, like the metal ball in a pinball machine. But the reverberating words shouldn’t stop there. The church building doors should open and God’s words should echo out the doors, down the street, and into the members’ homes and workplaces. The reverberations of sound that began in the pulpit should eventually be bouncing off the walls in dining rooms, kitchens, and children’s bedrooms; off gymnasium walls, cubicle dividers, and the insides of city bus windows; through e-mails, text messages, and Internet pages.
Lord, let it happen!