Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
SBJT 6:1 (Spring 2002) p. 114
Speaking with Bold Assurance. By Bert Decker and Hershael W. York. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2001, 184 pp., $14.99, paper.
In this book the authors attempt to provide skills and strategies that will enable the Christian more effectively to communicate the truth of God. They are quite successful in carrying out their assignment.
The book is a quick and crisp thirty-one chapters, many consisting of just two-to-five pages. Each is well written and informative. “The Nine Behavioral Skills” (section IV, chapters 11–19) of effective communication adapted from Decker’s earlier work, You’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard, is worth the price of the book alone. Anyone who is serious about becoming the best Christian communicator possible, building on his or her unique individual personality, will benefit from the insights Decker and York provide. Their challenge to have “a passion for constant improvement” (p. 161) is one every preacher and teacher should heed, and their call for constant and honest feedback is an important word far too many preachers neglect. Just when was the last time one of your messages was really critiqued for strengths and weaknesses, plusses and minuses by someone who would tell you the truth; even if it hurt?! My appreciation for this book is such that I will be using it as one of my texts in the class, “Ministry of Proclamation,” and I would encourage others to consider it as well.
There are a couple of things that I believe our authors could have done that would have improved the book. The alternating of “he” and “she” pronouns throughout was distracting and unnecessary. There is no footnoting, neither is there a bibliography. It would be helpful to know the source of their ideas, and who the others are in the field of communication theory and what they are saying. There is some repetition of subject matter that does not really add anything. Finally, “The Decker Grid System” (section V, chapters 20–25), though an interesting and potentially helpful device for composing a message, suffers in my judgment at two points. First, I believe it makes the process appear more simple than it really is, especially the time one must invest for effective communication of biblical truth. Second and more important, I am not sure it will work in doing biblical exposition. I was not surprised to find that the illustrating of the method did not show how to expound Scripture or even develop a Christian message. It should be noted here that Decker and York are currently working on another volume: Preaching with Bold Assurance. Perhaps in this work they will show how the “Decker Grid System” applies to biblical exposition, or they will show us that different types of speaking require different met...
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