All who are familiar with and seek to practice Haddon Robinson’s “big idea” approach for expository preaching struggle at some point in crafting the main or big idea of the assigned preaching passage. This recent volume, edited by Matthew D. Kim and Scott M. Gibson (professors of preaching at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Baylor University, respectively), is a welcomed answer to prayer! The Big Idea Companion for Preaching and Teaching is a treasure trove of insights, examples, and resources for effectively crafting the main idea of a biblical book or passage.
According to Kim, the book was designed to provide readers with an “insider’s view of the process of determining the main idea of a passage in its context (i.e., subject, complement, exegetical idea, and homiletical idea). In addition, for each book of the Bible you will have quick access to several features: (1) a brief introduction to the big idea of the entire book, (2) tips on how to divide the book into preaching and teaching pericopes, (3) guidance on difficult passages and verses, (4) cultural perspectives to facilitate faithful application, and (5) recommended resources for interpreting, preaching, and teaching each book” (1, 2).
The book follows the standard arrangement of the biblical books from Genesis to Revelation. “Each biblical book is divided into preachable and teachable units” (603), and a different evangelical preacher or scholar writes the content for each biblical book. For example, Joel Gregory, in his exploration of the book of Amos, provides the following insights on Amos 7:10–17:
“SUBJECT: Who can God use to proclaim His word against corruption and injustice in religion and life?
“COMPLEMENT: Unlikely people from unlikely places.
“EXEGETICAL IDEA: God can use unlikely people from unusual places to proclaim His word against corruption and injustice in religion and life.
“HOMILETICAL IDEA: God can use us despite our unlikely background and personal history to speak His words in unexpected places” (348).
This practical minicommentary and handbook will benefit both seasoned and novice preachers who desire to preach clear and biblically sound sermons. As great as this volume is, Gibson reminds readers that the book should serve as a guide in helping them to preach and teach God’s Word. It should “not replace good, hard work as one studies in preparation for teaching and preaching” (603). Furthermore, since some preachers’ interpretation of different Scripture passages may vary based on their theological tradition, they are encouraged to change the homiletical ideas. However, they should ensure that these adaptations “do not alter the meaning of the biblical passage” (603).