Reverberation: Light, Freedom, Action
There are some books that find their strength in saying new things—the original thoughts or perspectives we’ve simply never heard before. There are other books that find their strength in saying old things—things we’ve heard before but just need to hear again, whether that’s because of lack of faith or lack of memory or just because every time something is said it’s said in a different way. Jonathan Leeman’s new book Reverberation: How God’s Word Brings Light, Freedom, and Action to His People falls squarely into the latter category for me. I have heard it before. And I desperately needed to hear it again.
Reverberation is a book about God’s Word. It’s that simple. But maybe it’s not that simple. Churches and Christians are looking all over the place to find a source of light, freedom and action, to find whatever it is that will stir people, fire them up, lead them to do great things. Some try the latest and greatest programs; some work on dynamic small group ministries; some work toward the best worship by the best musicians; some look to justice. In the midst of all these options Leeman sets the Word of God, the one thing Jesus declared to be necessary in the life of the church and the one thing necessary for the growth of the church. While none of these other things are necessarily wrong, none of them can be central; rather, each must flow out of the centrality of the Word.
“One thing is necessary in our churches—hearing God’s Word through preaching, reading, singing, and praying.” When the Word is central it echoes out into all parts of the life of the church. “Picture it this way. The evangelist or preacher open his mouth and utters a word, God’s Word. But the Word doesn’t sound just once. It echoes or reverberates. It reverberates through the church’s music and prayers. It reverberates through the conversations between elders and members, members and guests, older Christians and younger ones. God’s words bounce around the life of the church, like the metal ball in the pinball machine.” But that is not all. It also reverberates into people’s homes and workplaces, their families and neighborhoods, out onto Facebook and blogs and anywhere else these people go. And what Reverberation seeks to do is to follow this path.
And so Leeman follows the Word. He begins with evangelism and the preaching of the gospel where the Word invites and divides, acts, frees and gathers. Then he looks to the sermon which exposes, announces and confronts with the Word. And then he shows how the Word reverberates through singing, prayer, discipleship and more evangelism. So this is not the kind of echo that bounces around and fades into the distance, but the kind of echo that increases and grows, getting louder and more urgent as it reverberates through the church, through the world.
At the end of it all, Leeman has written a book that is not about mechanics or programs, it’s not about how to do church. Instead, it’s about what needs to be at the heart of the church. He simply focuses in on the role of the Word, that central component to all the church is called to be and do. The Word is spoken at the beginning, the Word is spoken centrally, and it echoes throughout the life of the church and throughout the lives of each of its people.
This book is for pastors, teaching them again that the Word must be central and that they are charged to make it central. The centrality of the Word begins with the pulpit and the preaching ministry. But this book is also for laypersons, for those who need to be expecting and demanding the Word from their pastors and who then have the great privilege and responsibility of making it reverberate loud and long.
This is a book I’ve read once so far, but a book I’m convinced I’ll return to again. I needed the refresher this week and I know myself well enough to know that I’ll need it again before long. I think you’d probably do well to get a copy and refresh yourself as well.