From generation-to-generation there has been an anguished cry from preachers about preaching – there is no imagination! The Scriptures present the wondrous hope and vision of “Kingdom Come” and yet contemporary preaching can often be mute and blind by comparison. This book explores what is possible when the Scripture to be preached is prayed through the agency of two ancient prayer disciplines: lectio divina and Ignatian Gospel Contemplation. Through the experiences of eight vocational pastor-preachers this study tracks the difficulties, discoveries and delights as they commit to utilizing these prayer disciplines as part of their regular sermon preparation.
The reader will be orientated to what a biblical imagination entails and how praying the Scriptures affects the preacher, sermon and listener. Careful explanation of how to pray using lectio divina and Ignatian Gospel Contemplation is included. This work is, in places, a raw examination of the forces that regularly conspire against the preacher as they endeavour to faithfully expound the Scriptures. The study is a rousing exclamation of the joy experienced when a preacher’s imagination and their preparation is formed by the Spirit, bringing the Scriptures to bear on all who speak and hear it.
. . . this work on imaginative engagement with the Scriptures might be the most important book that many preachers read, apart from the Scriptures into which it leads them.
David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament, School of Theology,
I am drawn to any exposition of “imagination” in the practice of faith. This remarkable volume focuses on imagination, but sets it squarely in the midst of the great triad of pastor-prayer-congregation. is is pastoral theology at its best, inviting pastors and church leaders to let the power of the Spirit – via the generative force of Scripture – be in definning play in ministry.
Columbia Theological Seminary
I was fascinated by the research reported by this book, Imaginative Preaching, and have already started to put it into practice. Preachers all over the world would benefit profoundly if they cultivated these prayer disciplines to rekindle their love for God, deepen their immersion in the Scriptures, and rejuvenate their love and affection for the people whom they serve! A sublime idea!
Marva J. Dawn
Theologian, Author, Preacher and Speaker
Through careful research and reflection, pastor-scholar Geoff New introduces road-tested Christian practices of praying with Scripture so that depleted souls may be refreshed by the Bread of Life and bear fruit in the world. Dr New’s invitation to imaginative prayer with Scripture is a gift I gratefully accept for myself and also share with Christians, clergy and laity that I meet with in spiritual direction. The blessings flow!
Susan S. Phillips
Author and Executive Director of New College Berkeley,
Berkeley Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley
How can preachers encounter the risen Christ in ways that make preaching fresh, real and accessible? How can preachers grow in dwelling in Christ and dwelling in the Word? Geoff New presents a powerful and helpful model for meeting God personally through the words of the biblical text, vitally important for authentic preaching in our time.
Lynne M. Baab
Author of Sabbath Keeping and The Power of Listening
Table of Contents
- 1 Imagination: Seeing the World as God Sees It and Intends It
- 2 Lectio divina and Ignatian Gospel Contemplations: Then and Now
- Lectio divinia
- Ignatian Gospel Contemplation
- Definitions: Meditation and Contemplation
- Meditation and Contemplation in Lectio Divina and Ignatian Gospel Contemplation
- Contemplatives in Action
- 3 Renewal
- Recovering from a Perceived Loss
- Authenticity of the Preacher
- Dwelling with the Text
- 4 Repositioning
- The Effect of Time Pressure and Pastoral Demands
- The Tension between Personal Devotions and Formal Sermon Preparation
- The Value of the Ignatian Gospel Contemplation’s Third Prelude
- The Place of Exegesis
- 5 Reorientation
- New Connections with the Congregation
- The Imagination
- Contemplatives in Action
- 6 Back to the Future: Twenty-First Century Answers for First-Century Questions
- First Emmaus Question: “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”
- Second Emmaus Question: “Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?”
- Third Emmaus Question: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
- Appendix A: Ignatian Gospel Contemplation on the Nativity
- Appendix B: Participatory Action Research Method
- Appendix C: Preacher’s Manual
- Lectio Divina and Ignatian Contemplation in Preaching