The Jazz of Preaching: How to Preach with Great Freedom and Joy

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The Jazz of Preaching: How to Preach with Great Freedom and Joy. By Kirk Byron Jones. Nashville: Abingdon, 2004, 137 pp., $16.00 paper.

Kirk Byron Jones is jazzed about preaching with great freedom and joy! Jones teaches social ethics and pastoral ministry at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. He states the thesis of this one-of-a-kind book: "Preaching may be enhanced by exploring key elements of jazz and learning to apply those elements to the act of preaching" (p. 15).

In chapter 1, Jones narrates how he became aware of the "sacred intersection" (p. 16) between jazz and preaching. He then offers a brief survey of the book's contents. Chapter 2 is an attempt to define jazz and preaching. Jones considers sound, story, and mystery essential ingredients in both. On the other hand, the two differ with respect to ultimate goal and audience. For jazz, the audience "appears ancillary" (p. 41) but for preaching the audience is "integral" (p. 41).

The focus of chapter 3 is the act of listening. Jones observes, "Preaching is not saying first. Preaching is, as it is for jazz, a matter of listening first" (p. 53). Creativity is the subject of chapter 4. Jones discusses four essential attributes for cultivating creativity: curiosity, openness, risks, and grace.

In chapter 5, Jones explains with keen insight the four features of improvisation: play, variety, daring, and mastery. Jones considers the dialogical elements of preaching in chapter 6. …