Jem Hovil reviews Myles MacBean’s recent book, Preach the Word: Towards effective grassroots preacher training in sub-Saharan Africa (London: Apostolos Publishing 2017), which is mentioned in the blogpost ‘Influencing training in the Zambezi Evangelical Church of Malawi.’
Myles MacBean has done a great service for all who are developing ministry training. Preach the Word is a remarkably compact book that covers a surprising amount of ground, due to its economy of words. Preach the Word will stimulate thinking: grounded in his own research of consciously and conscientiously developing a preaching programme for a very specific context in Malawi, it is brimming with insights and information as MacBean explores the viability of “contextual, scalable and sustainable” training. For example, insights such as “franchise management” in business development provide fresh perspectives on problems.
The book will also integrate thinking: pulling together insights from a range of domains that include homiletics, leadership development, practical theology, business studies, adult learning and church planting. In addition Preach the Word will multiply impact: in many contexts where scarce resources seem to be squandered on traditional forms of theological training little thought as to how the privileged few will reach the less fortunate many, this is a book that every institute and organisation involved in training in Sub-Saharan Africa should make essential reading for those taking courses in practical theology, homiletics and Christian education, and for their faculties.
Finally, MacBean’s work will provide a model: the study is a fine example of local research, with a keen awareness and respect for culture and the dignity of individuals, and with the empirical data providing fascinating granular data on specific issues and fascinating and sometime surprising insights. For practitioners, like MacBean, who are open to learning from others Preach the Word is an invaluable resource.