The Gospel for the Person Who Has Everything in Review

A review was released last month in the Englewood Review of Books by Andrew Camp of my recently republished book The Gospel for the Person Who Has Everything. He writes:

“As the church ministers to the strong, they will also need to reclaim the Christian ethic of response over and against an ethic of achievement. Christians need to be constantly reminded that their good deeds are not done in order to achieve anything, for remember Christ has already loved us. Rather as Christians we are compelled by the love by which we have been loved.

Willimon reminds us, “You can’t beat people on the head, bring them to their knees, devastate their human dignity, and then expect them to act like mature, responsible, full human beings.” Instead, the church must help her congregants to do the hard work of using their power in responsible ways, for let’s face it, the majority of white, American evangelicals have been blessed in special ways. The question becomes, what will we do with it?

This is the challenge that the strong need to be confronted with. The church needs to stop placating people, giving out nice, naïve platitudes, and start proclaiming the gospel that awakes people from their stupor and asks them to rise to meet the challenges of our day.”

You can read the rest of the review here.

Preaching Holy Week 2021

Faced with a story so demanding, the church has got to stop what it’s doing and listen, allowing this story to have its say. A story so true, so real—no way that we could have made it up on our own or it could have arisen from our wishful thinking. Most preachers are careful not to tell the same story twice; this one we repeat every year. The Passion re-creates us as a people of the cross. Without this story, I fear that my church would morph into just a club of like-minded, congenial folks with progressive political aspirations. Holy Week keeps us from making the church anything we like.

“Stunned observers,” The Christian Century, 3.15.21

The conversation I had with Rick Lischer about preaching Holy Week this year has now been published in The Christian Century, and we’re doing another webinar, much like our Preaching Advent 2020, to extend the discussion and, we hope, answer any pressing questions you may have.

The webinar is tomorrow night, 3/17, at 7p EDT.

This event is being offered free over Zoom. Once you register here, you’ll receive the link to be able to participate. It will also be streamed to my Facebook page and posted after the fact on my YouTube Channel.

If you have any questions in advance that you’d like us to address, feel free to leave a comment here, and we’ll try to get to them.

Easter Preaching

  • What is Christian preaching?
  • How is it changing?
  • What makes a good Easter sermon?

At the invitation of Cathy Jamieson the SCUMC Columbia District Superintendent, I offered practical tips to her ministers along with others from around the state on preaching during Holy Week and Easter this year to encourage and strengthen in them in their preaching. I began:

The Christian faith is uniquely auditory, a matter of speaking and listening. It’s called “Good News,” news is something that you must receive from the voice of another. Not innate, natural. Somebody must tell it to you.

Christian faith can never be the answer to a question like, “Have you ever thought that….?” nor “Have you had the experience that…?” Preaching like this thinks that you make contact with what folks have already experienced or know, then go rummage about in scripture, and that leads to a sermon.

Easter is a challenge in part because it’s not natural, not expected, and there are no good analogies from present human experience: butter fly emerging from cocoon, robin return in spring, crocus coming up through snow. Easter is about a man who was tortured to death by the governmental-religious consortium, who died, and then in 3 days, “loose!”

Aging Press

A review in Christianity Today argues that Aging: Growing Old in Church is among seven books that belong in your pastoral care library this Spring.

Michael Niebauer, rector of Incarnation Church in State College, Pennsylvania, and a teaching fellow at Trinity School for Ministry, writes:

Will Willimon invites pastors to think intentionally about their own aging and the vocation of their elderly parishioners in this comprehensive and engaging text. While old age brings with it a certain loss of control for many, it also provides a new set of freedoms that Christians should view as an opportunity to invest more fully in their walk with God and in the lives of those they are called to serve in this new stage of life. Pastors in turn should consider how they can help their aging parishioners transition well by providing both practical opportunities to prepare for financial and health care challenges and opportunities for continued ministry within the life of the church. Willimon offers fantastic illustrations from his own experience as a septuagenarian pastor and vivid anecdotes from a lifetime of faithful service within various intergenerational congregations.

Preaching Holy Week 2021

Since Rick Lischer and I have an article coming out soon in The Christian Century about preaching Holy Week this year, we wanted also to do another webinar, much like our Preaching Advent 2020, to converse further about it and, we hope, answer any pressing questions you may have.

This webinar is free over Zoom. Once you register here, you’ll receive the link to be able to participate. It will also be streamed to my Facebook page and posted after the fact on my YouTube Channel.

If you have any questions in advance that you’d like us to address, feel free to leave a comment here, and we’ll try to get to them.

Preachers Dare GodPod

Graham Tomlin, Mike Lloyd, and Jane Williams, the kindly and thoughtful British theologians of the GodPod, had me on to talk preaching, particularly with reference to my recent book Preachers Dare. We talk about what an odd thing it is that God insists on having preachers speak in God’s behalf and about some of the possible pitfalls inherent in thinking you’re speaking God (maybe it’s best if you don’t and just trust that God will say through you what God need to say).

Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Another Preachers Dare Review

New Zealander Michael Reddell who blogs at Among Traditions posted a review of my new book Preachers Dare. He concludes:

How many preachers call their people back to the Scriptures, back to the works of God, the plans of God, and the call to live as distinctly different disciples of Christ? God has plans and purposes, But are our preachers proclaiming them, calling us to them? Or are they content to manage the social club, the social work, accommodating their people to the age, as one generation succeeds another and the decline of the gospel in New Zealand continues?

For anyone at all interested, I commend Willimon’s book to you. For evangelical readers, not everything he says in passing on specific points at issue in the church will be to your taste (or mine) but don’t let that detract from the challenge of this bishop, writer, and professor who seeks to live the conviction that God speaks, and that He wills to speak through faithful preachers today too.

Back with Crackers & Grape Juice

I so much enjoyed discussing with the Crackers and Grape Juice gang the reprint of my The Gospel for the Person Who Has Everything.

They write:

Friend of the podcast and all around Gandalf to the gang, the irascible Will Willimon returns to talk about meeting the Risen Jesus, fighting in church, Karl Barth, preaching, and the new edition of his first book, The Gospel for the Person Who has Everything.

Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.