I was drawn to Word Centered Church (2017) by Jonathan Leeman for a few reasons. First, the book is a product of 9Marks, an organization committed to what they describe as the 9 marks of a healthy church (preaching, biblical theology, The Gospel, conversion, evangelism, membership, discipline, discipleship, leadership). Last year, they put out an excellent journal about Authority. Second, in a world that has 10,000 ideas about what constitutes Christianity, a book titled "Word Centered Church" brings us back to the centrality of the gospel message. Third, as a preacher of The Gospel, I want to make it my business to share God's word accurately.
This book did not disappoint. Leeman had three sections--the word, the sermon, and the church--each containing a few chapters. He was unapologetically focused on the centrality of the Bible and the proclamation of the message contained within its pages. What is absolutely necessary for the church? "God's Word working through God's Spirit" (p. 18). Other things have value, but apart from the proclamation of the Gospel, all of the rest is chaff.
I was convicted by the "Sermon" section. Leeman shared an experience where his board of elders confronted his "creativity," gently but firmly reminding him that he missed the point of the text. I was reminded of my conviction that I want to understand the whole story of God's word and communicate it clearly. It is far too easy to make Scripture fit our own preconceptions and we must guard against that tendency.
On the whole Leeman is clear and concise in his communication of his message. He bolsters the main points with examples from his own life and ministry that help to provide useful context. If you are interested in understanding the importance of the centrality of the Word, this is a great place to begin.
I received a free copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for my review. I was not required to submit a positive review. The impressions offered here are my own.