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Roger von Oech

Hi Jonny: Glad to hear your session went well. And thanks much for promoting "A Whack on the Side of the Head." The UK version of the 25th Anniversary Edition of "Whack" will be available in early July.

Best wishes to you and your many readers!

Greg the Explorer

Hey Jonny, I was unable to get down to Victoria for your workshops - real bummer because I am quite a fan of your stuff. Anyhoo - what's the chances of being able to get a copy of your notes to go along with the PDF of your whacked in the side fo the head presentation?


there aren't any notes! i tend to just talk from slides... it's in my head. but get the book.


Hi Jonny

I don't mean to butter you up in any way here, but I have just read your chapter on preaching ("throwing a hand grenade in the fruit bowl")and thought it was simply brilliant. I am "preaching" on Sunday and to be honest I ofhen find myself, half way through the sermon asking myself as I look around at the sea of faces around me..."who is still with me" "who has got the faintest idea what I'm on about" "has anyone died - if not physically, at least of boredom" "is anyone actually engaged here?" The answers are not comfortable. Sometimes I am as bored, if not more than the congregation is!

I received the preaching rota for January-March 2009 recently and found that I was preaching less. At first I was a bit concerned but you article has taught me to actually feel quite relieved (we have a preaching team of seven people, which I think is an advantage, so it can cope with a few less "preaches".)

I particularly love the bit about releasing the artists within our midst. I will seek to apply some of the "remixing the sermon" principles but it will have to be done gradually. There are two I am thinking of for this Sunday morning's sermon - one is to break the congregation down into small groups - the other is leaving space at the end for feedback, disagreement etc - radical but I love it!

We have bi-monthly preachers meeting and I am seriously thinking of printing your article off and distributing it to everyone to read and comment upon. It really is that good, that challenging, and that thought-provoking.

Finally, is that article a chapter from a book of yours, or is it a chapter you contributed to a book by various authors.

...and don't worry about the explosions in the fruitbowl...maybe the fruit has been in the bowl for so long that it is beginning to rot!


phil thanks! glad you found it so helpful. i like the piece too .it was written as a chapter for a book on preaching with chapters by lots of 'preachers'. when i was asked to write i rang to check they had got the right person and when assured i was, wrote something a bit leftfield. it was rejected from the book - or at least i was asked to rewrite it but it was to be such a substantial change that i declined to do so. i confess i feel proud to have had the chapter rejected. but i do know a few colleges and courses that have used it as fuel for discussion etc so it's having a gvood life it seems...

i am sure your experiments will be both fun and fruitful...



It is not often this happens but I am almost speechless. I feel as if I have just plunged into an abyss of deep despair! Primarily because the preaching fraternity might not want to hear the type of things you have to say, but we certainly need to hear it!

What depresses me most is that I can probably guess the content of some of the bog-standard chapters that were inserted in place of yours. Did they give you any reason for rejecting it, or just a polite “no thanks….” Still, as you say, the best way to look at it is to wear it as a badge of honour. I’d include it on my CV if it was me!

To be serious for a moment, maybe Jonny, just maybe, there is a book of your own here somewhere. I have your book/CD on Alternative Worship which you co-authored with Jenny Baker and Doug Gay. Maybe it is time to seek out an adventurous publisher and a like-minded co-author or two and bring out the next in the series “Alternative (s) (to) Preaching! Because you are right in what you say….things have got to change…and quickly!

Never fear however, as I intend to ensure that the article has a slightly wider audience. Initially I shall be slipping it quietly into the hands of our vicar who, at last Christingle service had the utter temerity to leave the sermon out of the service, as she viewed the whole service as “the sermon”. I really admired her courage, but she got quite a bit of flak from a number of other people. I hope at some point to give it to a couple of other people (including those who are “preached at” on a regular basis) before feeding it into our regular preachers meeting. We are meeting this Sunday, but that is probably a bit too soon, but it definitely contains things that need to be said at some stage.

As for Sunday morning, I am definitely going down the route of create space for dialogue/discussion/feedback route so I’ll let you know how it goes. The good thing is that I am off on a placement from the beginning of Lent to Pentecost Sunday to another Anglican church in the Liverpool area to observe and reflect upon the Fresh expressions stuff that they are doing, so if Sunday is badly received at least I can “escape” for a while to avoid the inevitable brickbats!

Just a final thing, I am part of the “Dream” alternative worship network on Merseyside and I can confirm that I come back from the sermonless Dream events far more inspired, enthused, disturbed and challenged than I do from a regular Sunday morning “service with preach” chiefly because far more space having been given to being able to encounter God and respond to him.

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