Though The Choice is set up to be a collection of sermons with backstories, it is to me a journey — walking with Frank Thomas through the pages of his life and ministry. It is an honest assessment of one’s inner core and the courage to break out from the mold and be the person that God intended you to be. I like the book for a lot of reasons. First, it reminds me to view myself always from the inside out and not outside in. This is listening to your inner voice and toning down the different voices around you — until only God’s voice fill up the room of your inner self and you become comfortable and accepting of who and what you were created to be.
Second, it is a healthy marriage of homiletics and psychology. I like the dynamics. Preaching becomes therapeutic, touching not just the spirit but the soul — I believe healing even of the body. The sermon language is simple, honest, and connects to the people — it connected to me. The words can strike a chord and I believe listeners could easily relate to them. Third, the backstories give the sermons the soul. I appreciate the fact that Thomas included the backstories for with them I was able to journey with him and understand his theology. Great preaching is when a preacher is undetached from his sermon. Sermons are powerful when they are drawn from the preacher’s experiences of the divine and how s/he translates those divine experiences into his human relationships.
Fourth, it is a voice for those who are rethinking their ministry. I commend Thomas’ honesty about his inner desire to leave pastoral ministry and be a homiletic professor. As a pastor, admittedly, I am forced to do things that I know I was not called/gifted to do but do it anyway because I love the Church and the ministry. Most of the time, pastors choose not to reveal what they really feel out of respect for their position and ministry. This book is a breath of fresh air — a voice of one calling in the wilderness. There was an instance, when I came across Thomas’ desire to start a preaching center, that I thought I was reading about myself. I knew from the start I will not remain in the four corners of the Church and do pastoral ministry. I knew that God is leading me to establish a special ministry and it has something to do equipping the next generation of preachers in my country. After 18 years of pastoral ministry, I am now taking the necessary steps towards my PhD in Homiletics and then go back to the Philippines to open a preaching center — preaching clinic as I call it.
Fifth, it reveals that preaching has different styles and methods. I observed that Thomas used different methods in his sermons. Though most of them utilized the point method in preaching, some are narrative and have the flow. I like how the theme sentence — sometimes the sermon title, is repeated throughout the sermon. This style makes sure that the message is clear and can be easily grasp by the listeners. Finally, it teaches readers or any person in ministry how to gracefully exit. I appreciate the program that was adopted to transition the church to its new chapter. Change is almost always uncomfortable. It breaks the status quo. However, because the church followed a transition guideline, the Church and Frank Thomas were able to let go without severing the relationship. I would recommend the same to any church.
Overall, the book has been of great help to me. It gave me a new perspective of myself and my ministry. It solidified my resolve to pursue my dream that God has placed upon my heart — to equip the next generation of preachers in my country.
Boon on review: The Choice: Living Your Passion Inside Out by Frank A. Thomas