REVIEWOF CROSSOVER PREACHING: INTERCULTURAL-IMPROVISATIONAL HOMILETICS INCONVERSATION WITH GARDNER C. TAYLOR
Written by JaredE. Alcántara, Crossover Preaching proffers a comprehensive discourseon the facets of worship as well as the continuation of worship andchurch aspects through the century. The book offers insight intohomiletics and evaluates the rarely considered aspects of GardnerTaylor’s ministry by deliberatingon the effects of diversity of culture on preaching practices. Theauthor suggests that preaching activities and practices must changeto conform to the diversification of the society. Today’s societyhas greatly changed as compared to the past, by becoming morediversified with more cultures and global connections consequently,the author proposes that churches, seminars and must all change theirmethods of preaching to include different people with diversecultures. He further says that since churches have changed because ofglobal connections, it is important to for pastors and evangelists tochange the style of preaching to relay information to all followersregardless of their cultural practices or beliefs.1The book uses Garner C. Taylor’s conversation to identify the wayforward. According to Jared E. Alcántara, Taylor’s preachingapprise about an intercultural approach that will guarantee thefuture of US churches and other seminary institutions. He furtherargues that homiletics and preachers must change and develop newmethods and tactics of preaching that provide improvisational andintercultural ability to reach the increasing number dynamicchurches. Hence, the author has written this book to give guidelinesthat are intended to help pastors to communicate effectively andconnect with people with various cultures.
Alcántara has a Ph.D. intheology and is an assistant professor at Trinity EvangelicalDivinity School in Deerfield, Illinois where he lectures homiletics.His experience and expertise in matters of theology has been a greatinfluence on his writing of this book. He is also an ordained Baptistminister since he served as a pastor in different positions. At atender age, he served as a youth pastor, and then an associate pastorand finally a teaching pastor in several states like New Jersey,Oregon, and Massachusetts. He then served as an instructor forGordon-Conwell Hispanic Ministry program in New York. Finally, heworked as a doctoral instructor in homiletics at PrincetonTheological Seminary.2All of his contributions and experiences have helped him to have avalid insight of homiletics and the preaching techniques, which hehas incorporated in his book, Crossover Preaching.
The author gives a persuasiveargument saying that worship in churches will continue to happenthough they will look different. He supports this statement by givinga resounding case. He articulates that all preachers must acquire newpreaching skills that help to spread powerfully and proclaim thegospel to changing multi-cultural society. Using Dr. Gardner Taylor’samazing preaching, Dr. Alcántara illustrates how it done. It isimportant to incorporate preaching styles and modes that can relateto the entire community. Having said this, Alcántara proposes somepreaching techniques that the twenty-first-century preachers may useto improve the efficiency of communication between the two parties(pastors and congregation).
Though Gardner C. Taylordeparted on Easter Sunday, 2015, it is important to recognize hisindustrious life experience that has been of help to US pastors andthe churches. His amazing pulpit work value has merited studies suchas those conducted by Alcántaraand other authors who have used his work as a reference in theirbooks. However, Alcántaraproffers the most comprehensive and multifaceted account of Gardnerteachings. In CrossoverPreaching, Taylor appears to be prophetic and prescient withexemplary characteristics of a crossover preacher. Dr. Alcántarahas identified Taylor’s preaching familiarities and indicated theexperiences as instructions for preaching in an interculturalenvironment or church. Alcantara`s paradigm of Taylor’s work andexperience has been used to inspire many crossover preachers toimprovise their preaching techniques that will be of help to spreadthe Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The future indicates that theUS will influence a large demographic change because of interculturalpractices and beliefs among the society. In this regards, the USdemographical patterns are changing from a majority white nation to amixed nation, for example, the increasing influence ofAfrican-Americans, Asians, and Indians among others. To associatewith all these groups, Dr. Alcántarahas offered appropriate preaching techniques that can be used acrossall these ethnic communities. Since Taylor was the dean of US blackpreachers, his teachings provide an excellent reference for emergingpreachers to follow.3
Using the influence of Dr.Gardner C. Taylor’s work on crossover preaching, Dr. Alcántaradepicts all the important lessons that he has learned from the lateTaylor. Dr. Alcántaraprudentlyanalyzes Taylor’s pulpit work and preaching to provide vivid andvalid guiding principles for emerging preachers to utilize to beeffective when addressing the intercultural world in which churchesare continuously increasing in number especial in the United States.
Through Alcántara’sanalysis of Taylor’s work, readers will find this book to be bothinstructional and rousing when focusing on how to deliver the gospelto the increasingly multicultural society. As depicted by the author,Taylor was a bold crossover preacher who addressed more congregationsbesides his own Concord Baptist Church. By highlighting Taylor’sbackground awareness and improvisational skillfulness in preaching,Dr. Alcántaraillustrates the Taylor’s involvement to the multiculturalhomiletic, which gives instructions utilized in today’s churchesand seminarian institutions.
From Dr. Alcántara’sanalysis of the renowned Garner Taylor’s preaching and experience,he has shown modern significance in Crossover Preaching by indicatinghow both preachers and students will benefit. This book offers apositive contribution to identifying and shaping modern theology andmodern preaching tactics that are used to equip pastors and churchleaders to communicate meritoriously and relate to interculturalsocieties. The preaching tactics revealed in this book are bound tobe illustrations to those who engage in the practical framework oftheology and crossover preaching ministries. Dr. Alcántararecommends the bookto all preachers and theological teaching ministries committed toimproving the future of the twenty-first-century preaching sessionsin churches and other related areas like seminars.
Consequently, Dr. Alcántarauses valid examples to explain the importance of changing CrossoverPreaching methods to involve all cultures present in the USadequately. In a similar way, Miller and Min define the currentfashion trend and technology as the leading aspects that have forcedchanges.4Various sermons require different modes in which the can articulated.For instance, the availability of tabs and advanced phones may allowpeople to download the bible in them hence allowing them to be usedin churches. Some people also use tablets to make short notes inchurches. In previous years, it was recommended that all phonesshould be switched off in churches to avoid distractions but timeshave changed, and technology plays an important role to ensure thespread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The availability of internetis another foundation of change in preaching techniques. Nowadays,churches have their websites where they can upload sermons andpreaching for followers to read, listen or watch depending on themedia used to communicate. In the websites, readers are given theopportunity to express their views or to ask any questions that theymay have regarding the sermon. Apparently, this platform is the mostinfluential since it can relay preaching to all states and the wholeworld at large. Various preachers have widely used the internetinterface as a method that reaches the majority of believers sincethe internet has no boundaries and covers almost the entire world.5When the evangelizations and teachings are uploaded on the internet,all people with internet access, regardless of their ethnicity,culture, location or religion, can easily access these scriptures.
According to Taylor, pastorscan also record their church preaching and give them to TV channelswhere they can be broadcasted to reach more people, even the ones whostick at home and do not wish to go to church. For example, peoplecan watch sermons from the comfort of their chairs or beds throughmedia, which is also one of the surest ways to communicate with manypeople at the same time, regardless of their cultural identity.Currently, over 100 religious TV stations have been developed to helpin proclaiming and spreading the word of God.
Dr. Alcántaraurges pastors to use sermons that are related to common situationsthat a modern man undergoes to convey effectively relevantinformation in the sermons. Edminston recognizes this as one of themost important aspects of sermons today.6They should be universal to enable different cultural communities tohave a better understanding of the message hidden in the sermon. Forinstance, sermons must relate to current personal experiences thatcan be identified by the entire congregation regardless of thecultural background or race. During Dr. Alcántara’sanalysis of Taylor’s crossover preaching, a careful reader realizesthat a big difference exists between African Americans and Europeansin relation to experiences and perception. This means that theyperceive things and ideas in different ways and for them to bereunited in a common sermon, the pastor must improvise diligentmethods that will relate to both of them otherwise risking biases ifthe sermon does not configure with both parties.
Crossover Preaching alsodescribes how preaching in a multitude of people can be carried outto ensure understanding by all. Farra also asserts that sermons mustbe intriguing and exciting to captivate the minds of the listeners.7Otherwise, boring sermons will have less impact on the congregationbecause they have no interest in the sermon. In other circumstances,boring sermons may cause people to sleep or even walk out while thepreaching is still in progress. The human brain is intrigued withfascinating events hence, the crossover preachers must usefascinating examples and scriptures to maintain the congregation’slevel of concentration or attentiveness.8
Towards the end of the book,the author illustrates how Taylor’s ministry was impressive. Hedescribed Taylor as a wonderful theologian with a sharp mind andcraft of an artist. His sermons involved practical examples that wereobtained from day to day experience. He also pointed out thatTaylor’s sermons had a purpose in educating theological educators,who are aimed to be the future church leaders regardless of theirrace or cultural practices. In other words, this book has been ofgreat significance to practicing theologians because it givesfascinating teachings to Christians who wish to be leaders inchurches and other ministries that require theological practices.
The fact that Dr. Alcántarais a Ph.D. graduate in theology and homiletics indicates that he hasmuch experience in practical theology. This means that the methodsthat he has proposed in this book are valid and valuable to otherscholars who intend to take the same path. However, it is importantto keep in mind that not all preaching practices that have beendescribed in this book are functional in all concepts. It is,therefore, important to identify the type of people who are presentin the congregation to improvise an efficient means of conveying thesermon effectively.
Dr. Alcántarabook is also captured as a prophetic book since it gives knowledgeand insight of events of a future time. Crossover Preaching talksabout the prophetic wisdom of a preacher who has been consecrated toreveal a future trend of preaching putting into consideration currentintercultural events and discipline. In his proclamation, Dr.Alcántaradiscloses the trends of the multicultural society and responsetowards current standards of preaching practices required. Dr.Alcántara’scontribution through this book may take a while to implement sincenot all preachers are gifted in making their sermons flexible. Thismeans that some preachers may find it harder than others to integratethe teachings provided by this book because of lack ofimprovisational tools. Dr. Alcántarasays that God ordains preachers hence, there is a need for prayersto receive guidance when giving out sermons.
He also urges pastors not tofear to proclaim the gospel of Jesus because of multiculturalism.Instead, they should be courageous and confident when relaying theword of God since it is a calling that gives them a great opportunityto contribute to the building of the kingdom of God. It is evidentthat Christianity has a great demonstration of power and pastorsshould be comfortable to ensure continuity. The capacity ofChristians to perform miracles has greatly influenced the perceptionof Christianity. Therefore, pastors and evangelists must not bebiased when performing miracles and should pray for all peopleincluding both believers and non-believers. As such, Christianity isuniversal and does not depend on diverse factors like race, gender,ethnicity and others.
However, the language barriercan be the most influential. It is imperative to have interpreterswho will interpret the sermon to native language to influence a clearcommunication channel in a bid to cope with the language barrier. Inmany circumstances, two pastors preach, the first one usually givesthe sermon, while the second one interprets what the first pastor issaying. This gives the best solution to deal with the issue oflanguage barrier. For centuries, Christianity has been described as areligion for all people regardless of culture, location or race. Thisbelief must be instilled to new pastors who prepare themselves totake charge of the current churches that are full of diverse culturalpeople. Taylor said that Christianity is not for the reach nor thepoor, but rather a universal religion that must be spread to allparts of the world, which is one of the most influential basicguidelines to Christians.
Dr. Alcántaraalso demonstrates the future values of Christianity. He argues thatas time continues to pass, so will societal norms continue to bediverse. This means that there will be the development of uniquecultures that have different views of life and religion. The UScitizens and cultures have been considered by many people to besuperior to others. This belief occasionally brings about attitudesthat influence unfair treatment of people or institutions towardsothers. Issues like apartheid, nepotism, racism, fascism among othersare all because of prejudice. In Christianity, there is no such thingas superior or inferior cultures, all human beings are consideredequal in the eyes of God. Christianity teaches us that allindividuals and cultures are all the same since “we are all sinnersand have fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 323). Accordingto Dr. Alcántara,sin is not inherited or culturally acquired. Therefore, it isimportant for preachers and other theological practitioners to preachand ensure justice among their congregation. It is the duty ofpastors and reverends to improvise corrective measures for culturaldistortions that will shape the future of Christianity and churches.
Dr. Alcántarauses Taylor’s perception of Christianity as a universal religion toillustrate the importance of understanding every culture. He saysthat the church is a house of God, and no one should be made anexception since even the kingdom of God is regarded universal. Thisshows that even God himself acknowledges the whole human race aschildren of one ancestor. The Bible says that we are all created fromthe image of God. This implies that the human race is regarded as onewith no ethnic or cultural differences. This is exactly how we shouldregard each other, as members of a common ancestor and children ofthe same God.
In conclusion, according toCrossover Preaching by Dr. Alcántara,it is important to understand how God communicates with his people.Pastors and theological practitioners must find ways of bringingtogether different communities to one congregation to fulfill thecommandment of God, which urges them to spread the gospel to allcorners of the world irrespective of whatever factors that maydevelop. Consequently, all people must respect the value that God hasinstalled in humans since it is what separates us from other animals.This means that Christians must have a biblical perception of humanvalue irrespective of ethnicity, gender, cultural background,education level, ethnolinguistic background or even religiousbackground among others. Therefore, we can conclude that Dr.Alcántara’sbook titled Crossover Preaching is a first-rate book that reveals theimportance of changing the manner of relaying sermons and preachingto involve people that are more diverse. The influence of this bookis important and is credited to both Dr. Gardner Taylor and theAuthor Dr. Alcántara.It was through Taylor’s teaching and preaching practices that Dr.Alcántarawas able to investigate the importance of adjusting preachingapproach relevant to the current and future of Christianity.
Alcántara, Jared, E.CrossoverPreaching: Intercultural-improvisational Homiletics in Conversationwith Gardner C. Taylor.(IVP Academic, 2015).
Alvinand Sr. D. Min, PreachMy Sister Preach: A Biblical Defense of Women in Gospel Ministry(WesBowPress, 2005).
Edminston,John. "Internet Evangelism & Cyber missionsand Their Impact upon How We WillDo Missions in the 21 st Century." (2007).
Farra,Harry. TheSermon Doctor: Prescriptions for Successful Preaching.(iUniverse, 2000).
JamesP, Byrd.SacredScripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution.(Oxford University Press, 2013).
1 Jared Alcántara E., Crossover Preaching: Intercultural-improvisational Homiletics in Conversation with Gardner C. Taylor, (IVP Academic, 2015), p.28.
2 Ibid, 58.
3 Ibid, 2
4 Alvin Miller and Sr. D. Min, Preach My Sister Preach: A Biblical Defense of Women in Gospel Ministry (WesBow Press, 2005), p.56.
5 John Edminston, "Internet Evangelism & Cyber missions and Their Impact upon How We will Do Missions in the 21 st Century." (2007). P.1
7 Harry Farra, The Sermon Doctor: Prescriptions for Successful Preaching. (iUniverse, 2000), p. 25.
8 Byrd, James P, Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution. (Oxford University Press, 2013), p.22.