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

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What if preachers were as contagiously joyful in their preaching as Louis Armstrong was in his playing and singing? As rich in their sermonic renderings as Sarah Vaughan was in her musical vocals? As honest about heartache as Billie Holiday was every time she sang about the blues of life? As alluringly clear as the angelic voice of Ella Fitzgerald? As tenaciously uninhibit What if preachers were as contagiously joyful in their preaching as Louis Armstrong was in his playing and singing? As rich in their sermonic renderings as Sarah Vaughan was in her musical vocals? As honest about heartache as Billie Holiday was every time she sang about the blues of life? As alluringly clear as the angelic voice of Ella Fitzgerald? As tenaciously uninhibited in the action of creating as Duke Ellington? Of course, this is too much to ask of people, even those called by God. However, it is not too much to ask this question: Can preaching be enhanced through the metaphor of jazz? Can an understanding of the inner dynamics of jazz--its particular forms, rules, and styles--inform one's practice of preaching as well? Can jazz's simultaneous structure and spontaneity help preachers better understand their own art? The answer to these questions, says Jones, is an unqualified yes. He explains how one can dramatically improve one's preaching through understanding and applying key elements of the musical art form known as jazz. No musical background is necessary; all examples are well explained and tied in with preaching. The key elements include innovation (what one commentator refers to as "the experimental disposition of jazz"), improvisation, rhythm, call and response, honesty about heartaches, and delight. After discussing the reality and role of each of these elements in jazz, and how they can be important for preaching as well, each chapter concludes with five exercises for applying the jazz element to preaching preparation and performance. Drawing on a deep love of jazz and enlivening the discussion with insights drawn from the realities of African American preaching, Jones introduces readers to rich and rewarding possibilities for constructing and delivering the sermon.


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What if preachers were as contagiously joyful in their preaching as Louis Armstrong was in his playing and singing? As rich in their sermonic renderings as Sarah Vaughan was in her musical vocals? As honest about heartache as Billie Holiday was every time she sang about the blues of life? As alluringly clear as the angelic voice of Ella Fitzgerald? As tenaciously uninhibit What if preachers were as contagiously joyful in their preaching as Louis Armstrong was in his playing and singing? As rich in their sermonic renderings as Sarah Vaughan was in her musical vocals? As honest about heartache as Billie Holiday was every time she sang about the blues of life? As alluringly clear as the angelic voice of Ella Fitzgerald? As tenaciously uninhibited in the action of creating as Duke Ellington? Of course, this is too much to ask of people, even those called by God. However, it is not too much to ask this question: Can preaching be enhanced through the metaphor of jazz? Can an understanding of the inner dynamics of jazz--its particular forms, rules, and styles--inform one's practice of preaching as well? Can jazz's simultaneous structure and spontaneity help preachers better understand their own art? The answer to these questions, says Jones, is an unqualified yes. He explains how one can dramatically improve one's preaching through understanding and applying key elements of the musical art form known as jazz. No musical background is necessary; all examples are well explained and tied in with preaching. The key elements include innovation (what one commentator refers to as "the experimental disposition of jazz"), improvisation, rhythm, call and response, honesty about heartaches, and delight. After discussing the reality and role of each of these elements in jazz, and how they can be important for preaching as well, each chapter concludes with five exercises for applying the jazz element to preaching preparation and performance. Drawing on a deep love of jazz and enlivening the discussion with insights drawn from the realities of African American preaching, Jones introduces readers to rich and rewarding possibilities for constructing and delivering the sermon.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Adam Tomlinson

    Byron Jones illustrates the way that Spirit guided preaching can aptly be compared to Jazz music through improvisation, "dialogue" between preacher(s) and the audience, and the power and need to persevere through sorrow. While the book felt often more like a book on Jazz than preaching, I appreciated his self-disclosure and willingness to give action steps after each chapter. I found the book worth reading, though not the best starting place for a preacher. Byron Jones illustrates the way that Spirit guided preaching can aptly be compared to Jazz music through improvisation, "dialogue" between preacher(s) and the audience, and the power and need to persevere through sorrow. While the book felt often more like a book on Jazz than preaching, I appreciated his self-disclosure and willingness to give action steps after each chapter. I found the book worth reading, though not the best starting place for a preacher.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Phil Whittall

    I try and read a book on preaching on a regular basis as it helps me keep my thoughts on how to preach broad, gives me fresh creativity and hopefully makes me a better preacher. The subtitle to this book is ‘how to preach with great freedom and joy’ and asks questions such as can we preach with the same freedom and joy and honesty that we find in great jazz. Interestingly, I’ve just noted that it has an endorsement from Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama’s controversial preacher. I think it works best I try and read a book on preaching on a regular basis as it helps me keep my thoughts on how to preach broad, gives me fresh creativity and hopefully makes me a better preacher. The subtitle to this book is ‘how to preach with great freedom and joy’ and asks questions such as can we preach with the same freedom and joy and honesty that we find in great jazz. Interestingly, I’ve just noted that it has an endorsement from Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama’s controversial preacher. I think it works best if a) you like Jazz and I do b) you’re African American and I’m not. Or at least American, there were cultural styles, heritage and references which even though I’ve been to church all my life I simply didn’t connect with. If I’d taken his preaching class and worked through all the suggested exercises, listened to all the suggested music, thought deeply about all the suggested themes then I’d probably have benefited much more. It is after all true that you often get out what you put in and I put ‘in’ very little into this book. But then again what I did read didn’t fire me up to put in any more. There was the occasional gem but on the whole you had to dig hard. Not for these shores, in my humble opinion.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amos Smith

    I loved this book. It is all about finding your flow in the pulpit and trusting the process of improvisation. The best preachers like the best jazz musicians are masters of improvisation. I took a class from Kirk Byron Jones entitled "The Jazz of Preaching." Jones had us watch jazz artists and commented on their improvisational style. Yes the Holy Spirit moves in the moment improvising along the way! Highly recommended! -Amos Smith (author of Healing The Divide: Recovering Christianity's Mystic R I loved this book. It is all about finding your flow in the pulpit and trusting the process of improvisation. The best preachers like the best jazz musicians are masters of improvisation. I took a class from Kirk Byron Jones entitled "The Jazz of Preaching." Jones had us watch jazz artists and commented on their improvisational style. Yes the Holy Spirit moves in the moment improvising along the way! Highly recommended! -Amos Smith (author of Healing The Divide: Recovering Christianity's Mystic Roots)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Annabelle

    I really, really enjoyed reading this book. Jones' writing style is laidback and easy to understand, but what he has to say is powerful - like any good sermon! The connection of preaching with jazz music has helped me to view proclamation in musical terms, which has helped bring more passion to my preaching. Jones' exercises and questions are thought-provoking and I look forward to working through them in the future. I really, really enjoyed reading this book. Jones' writing style is laidback and easy to understand, but what he has to say is powerful - like any good sermon! The connection of preaching with jazz music has helped me to view proclamation in musical terms, which has helped bring more passion to my preaching. Jones' exercises and questions are thought-provoking and I look forward to working through them in the future.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Heather Djama

    This book compared preaching to playing jazz music and uses principles that can be found in jazz music to teach effective preaching. This book encouraged creativity and discussed the importance of being flexiable and preaching out of a full life and relationship with God. Good book for anyone who has to preach regurally.

  6. 5 out of 5

    JD Brenke

    The marriage of Jazz and Preaching. How can it not be good? Revolutionized the way I preach. Game changer.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

  8. 4 out of 5

    Char

  9. 5 out of 5

    Edward

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jason

  12. 4 out of 5

    Greg

  13. 5 out of 5

    LSW

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shari

  15. 4 out of 5

    Leemont

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emma

  17. 5 out of 5

    Judy Alston

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mike Elliott

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dominic Chasse

  20. 4 out of 5

    Benjamen

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Mills

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Baker

  23. 4 out of 5

    Burton Bagby-Grose

  24. 4 out of 5

    Philip

  25. 4 out of 5

    Quincy Simpson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne S

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

  28. 4 out of 5

    Don

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

  31. 5 out of 5

    Karla Seyb-Stockton

  32. 4 out of 5

    Adam Young

  33. 4 out of 5

    Jessie Boy

  34. 4 out of 5

    Greg Methvin

  35. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Hinnen

  36. 5 out of 5

    Jason

  37. 4 out of 5

    Joe Foltz

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