Steal Like An Artist
The best book I’ve read on preaching this year is not a book on homiletics or theology, but a book on creativity by Austin Kleon, entitled Steal Like An Artist. It is not a large book. In fact, it can easily be read in one sitting, but it is a book filled with helpful information. Kleon avoids wordiness and fills the pages with wonderful content. I found myself underlining, making comments, and putting asterisks on almost every page.
The premise of the book is rather simple. It contains 10 chapters which are 10 points which will help you be creative.
Kleon unpacks each of these points with clarity and precision. He includes quotes by famous artists, as well as drawings, pictures, and charts that are helpful and right on target. Kleon does not pretend to know some special secret to being creative, neither is he a snake oil salesman out to make a buck. He is simply an artist who has struggled with writer’s block and being creative, and come up with some helpful ways to get the creative juices flowing. Everyone is different, and so at the end of the book he advises the reader to “feel free to take what you can use, and leave the rest.”
Over the years I have read a lot of books on homiletics and preaching. Some of these books have been helpful, but many of them I find to be frustrating. Most books on how to preach contain one method that the author has come up with, and now wants to push off on you. Sometimes the method is no good at all. Other times the method may be good, but it doesn’t fit every text. Personally, I don’t want to be tied down to one homiletic method. I believe the word of God is living and active. When we begin to force the same method on every text in scripture, we are in danger of suffocating the living and active word. Instead, we should let the text shape how we preach. As preachers we need to be creative. We need to spend time in the word of God. We need to know the text, and then we need to work through the creative process in order to arrive at a message that is true to the text, and relevant to the people of God. I believe Austin Kleon’s book can help ministers with the work of creativity involved in arriving at a sermon.