IVP’s Telling God’s Story book review – Rating 8.5

Telling God's Story John W. Wright IVP

I’ve been doing quite a few books on expository preaching, so when I came across this one, I wanted to check it out for a different perspective.  Telling God’s Story is written by John W. Wright and  published by InterVarsity Press.    It is a very challenging book to read from the aspect of putting a twist on how we view the Bible narrative from our culture in North America.
I would give this book a 8.5 out of my normal 10 point rating scale.  On a “5 star” scale that some websites use, I would give it a 4.5 star rating.

In full disclosure, I was not required or requested by InterVarsity Press to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


“Telling God’s Story” is at times a challenging book to read.  Quite often, the wording you have to think about a little more than some of the more contemporary books that are written to a slightly lower reading level.  However, at times, in some portions of the book, I had to slow down due to really wanting to contemplate what the author was conveying.  I mean that in a good way – I was challenged to really evaluate how we view scripture from our North American culture and its ingrained individualism that really is contrary to Scripture.  I have seen a few other comments about this book and how it could have been written in simpler terms, and they are probably correct.  But then again, this is more of a seminary or academic level book.  It seems that one of the major points that the author is trying to convey is how we need to pull away from the cultural norm where narrative preaching has to end up in that “happy ending” position, but rather immerse us into the narrative within the Bible so we can be transformed.  If you are looking for a book on narrative preaching, this would be a good read for you.  I received a copy of this book in exchange for this review from IVP and all opinions are my own.


Type of Book:  Preaching / Ministry Help
Publisher: IVP (InterVarsity Press)  IVP Academic #IVPress @ivpress
Publication Date: May 16, 2007
ISBN-13 of Book Reviewed: 978-0830827404
Price:  Price:  At the time of writing this review, the cheapest place to get this book is at Christianbook.com.  They have it for $14.99– suggested retail from the publisher is $20.00. Please note that these prices do not include any potential shipping charges.

If you would like to purchase this book, please support my blog and purchase by clicking any of the links to Christianbook.com on this page like the one below.

827404: Telling God"s Story: Narrative Preaching for Christian Formation Telling God’s Story: Narrative Preaching for Christian Formation
By John W. Wright / IVP AcademicHas God’s narrative been usurped in American homiletics by an emphasis on “personal salvation” and the “mission of the nation-state”? Drawing on works by George Lindbeck and Hans Frei, Wright presents a preaching model that immerses the congregation in the biblical text so that they can become the living embodiment of the gospel in the world. 166 pages, softcover from InterVarsity.


Physical Characteristics:
•164 pages
•Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches

Goal of Book:

To me, it seems that the author’s goal was to point out a few main topics.  First, how we incorrectly approach Scripture from an individualist mentality rather than a nation-state, or church-wide state.  Second, the author does a very interesting job talking about sermon structure and how we need to have “movements” within the sermon so we can more effectively lead the congregation along with us throughout the message.  Finally, I think another point is that the author wants to help us understand how to craft messages that find ourselves in the Biblical narrative rather than observing it with a consumer mentality.

My Favorite Part:

I like to have my thinking challenged at times.  This book did not disappoint in that regard.  I appreciated how the author compared the North American church culture and sermons  as comedy vs. tragedy and brings it together in a manner that causes us to look at pulling people into the Biblical narrative, thus allowing the heart of people to be changed.

He also effectively looks at the church and how it has migrated to an individualism mentality rather than the group mentality that you actually see in Scripture.  I have been interested in culture quite a bit lately and it was very eye-opening to read it from this perspective.  Well done.

My Least Favorite Part:

I think that the writing, or should I say reading level, of this book will be a little more advanced than some readers will like. I hope this doesn’t discourage people from reading it, but I think it will for some.  With that said, the content is very good and well written.


While there were parts that were a little more challenging to read, I honestly can recommend this book.  This will be a book that I use off and on as a reference point regarding narrative preaching.

Who Would Enjoy This Book:

Possibly a little to hard of a read for some people if they have a hard time focusing on a book with a higher reading level.  But if you are good with that, or can get past that part, there really is quite a bit of excellent guidance on narrative preaching in this book.  You will be challenged, you may be convicted, but I’m pretty sure that you will thoroughly enjoy this book.



Chapter 1 – Homiletics as Biblical Hermeneutics
Chapter 2 – Eclipsing the Biblical Narrative (The Narrative Contours of North American Christianity)
Chapter 3 – Weaving the Story (The Biblical Narrative and a Homiletic Rhetoric of Turning)
Chapter 4 – Weaving the Story (Sermonic Exhibits)
Chapter 5 – Weaving the Story and the Rhetoric of Pastoral Care

About the Publisher:

From the publisher’s website:  As an extension of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, InterVarsity Press serves those in the university, the church and the world by publishing resources that equip and encourage people to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord in all of Life..  InterVarsity Press is based in Westmont, IL.
@ivpress @ivpacademic


Please leave a comment or question and I will try to respond a.s.a.p.

– Michael


This entry was posted in Church Life, Church Ministry, Culture, IVP, John W. Wright, Leadership, Liturgy, Ministry, Ministry Help, Narrative Preaching, Paperback, Pastor, Pastoral Book Reviews, Pastoral Care, Preaching, Teaching, Word of God and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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