REWIRING YOUR PREACHING: HOW THE BRAIN PROCESSES SERMONS was published by InterVarsity Press in 2012. The author is Richard H. Cox who is president emeritus of Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri. He teaches in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical School. He is also ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Let me begin by saying this is definitely one of the most academic books I have read in recent memory. I did not understand every point Cox makes, and there were definitely some words/terms I was not familiar with. That being said I did take a lot away from the book.
This offering will really get you thinking in a new way, about preachers and preaching. For example, what qualities, insights, and qualifications should a preacher have? Cox makes it clear that preachers today must have a working knowledge of how the brain/mind works and also how the body works. He goes into great detail on how preachers can actively engage the minds of their congregants. Science on how the brain works cannot be ignored by clergy. It is crucial to understand how and why a person in the pew accepts and integrates new information into their lives. Change starts in a person’s brain, which leads to a change in action/behaviour. Cox also details why some people reject a sermon or parts of it. It is not just because they are bull-headed.
Also in the book, Cox writes of how preaching and pastoring are very different. He gives us a unique look into the meaning of the sacraments in modern churches. He also spends a fair amount of time expressing why he thinks symbols, rituals, and liturgy should not be abandoned by today’s churches.
Cox cautions that we not get too attached to our denominations. The Gospel is what is of most import. He gives practical suggestions on how parishioners and clergy can effectively challenge and transform the ills in modern society, whether it be in schools, politics, banks, etc.
Reading this book confirmed to me that not everyone who is a preacher should hold that office. Just as a doctor or psychiatrist needs proper training, education, and knowledge, so too do preachers. To be effective, preachers must first take their sermons to heart themselves and practice what they preach. They must also have a true heart for the spiritual growth of their parishioners and community.
Preachers must preach for a decision, that is, with a specific goal in mind. The office of preacher is not one that should be taken lightly. I’m rating REWIRING YOUR PREACHING 90%. For more info visit: www.ivpress.com.