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Book Review: Preaching in Plenty and in Want

February 09, 2012

Preaching in Plenty and in Want, by Matthew Tennant, is a thoughtful reflection on how pastors can engage with economic matters in their preaching. The author is a pastor as well as a former VP in a brokerage firm. I appreciated the breadth and depth of his knowledge both of the economy and of theology. (Note: I received a review copy from Judson Press.)

This is not a theoretical book, but a book for practitioners, for preachers. Tennant provides an introduction to some basic economic concepts (for most of us, not part of seminary curriculum). He suggests that preachers pay attention to the economic context we live in.

He points out the challenges provided for preaching by both plenty and want - and by the varying contexts we minister within. Even in boom times, some struggle, and even in a recession some do well. One chapter title, "Love Them Where They Are," could be a mantra for all of ministry, and he skillfully applies it to economic life. He understands the need for a challenging word from the pulpit, and the need to balance challenge with acceptance. He doesn't let the book go by without a word to preachers about their own economic life, and the importance of practicing what we preach.

Tennant includes several of his own sermons, preached in different contexts, from rural church to academic chapel, to show how the context impacts what the preacher says. He provides a commentary on each sermon to show his thinking. I might have liked to see a couple of sample sermons from other preachers to see how someone else addresses this challenge.

Preaching in Plenty and in Want is substantive but not difficult to read. I recommend it. Tennant knows the territory of preaching and of congregational life.

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