Allen Stanton’s Review of Accidental Preacher

Allen Stanton, a former student of mine and excellent leader in our church, wrote a review for my memoir for the Englewood Review of Books.

I feel like Allen captures well my intentions in writing this book—I hope it makes a good companion to your own reading of Accidental Preacher!

Will

Six Questions with Will Willimon

As my memoir Accidental Preacher comes out in print, I share with you an interview I did with my publisher, Eerdmans. Enjoy!

Will


1. What do you hope readers take away from reading Accidental Preacher?

The most interesting thing about me is that, against all odds, God has handed me some outrageous assignments. I got called.

I’d be pleased if readers have fun reading about how much fun I’ve had in Christian ministry.

If my readers come away with a new sense of their own vocation, that would be great too.

What an interesting God we’ve got in the Trinity!

2. Why did you choose to publish Accidental Preacher with Eerdmans?

Years ago wild Bill Eerdmans said I ought to think about doing a memoir. Of course I dismissed Bill’s suggestion. Then, a novelist friend of mine said, “Will, you ought to do a memoir–while you can still mem.”

As my career ends, and I have the time to look back on the twists and turns in my life as a church guy, the time seemed right. Through the years I’ve admired Eerdmans’ books–published a couple of my most popular with them and have used Eerdmans books in my classes at Duke. Team Eerdmans gave me great editorial guidance during the process.

3. What’s something not enough people know about you?

I wonder if folks know how much joy I’ve had even amid the demanding challenges of Christian ministry. I have often been a critic of the church and its leaders and perhaps that’s come across as too critical, dour.

I hope my memoir will demonstrate the joys of working for a God who thinks nothing of sending thoroughly flawed, laughably unqualified people (guilty on all counts) out to do God’s work in the world. As I say early on in the book, the hijinks of this God is the subject of my memoir.

4. If you could have coffee with any historical figure, who would it be? Why?

I was going to say Karl Barth because that would make me sound theological. However, I don’t want to expose my ministry to Barth’s withering critique.

So I guess it would be dear Flannery O’Connor. She tells the truth but with wicked humor. I wouldn’t want her to tell me what she thinks of my writing, but I would like her to teach me how to show, in her words, “the action of grace in the territory of the devil.”

5. What advice would you give aspiring young preachers?

Thank God that Jesus didn’t call you to be President, then trust that God knew what God was doing when God called you to be a preacher. Have a great time telling people on Sunday the truth they’ve been avoiding all week.

6. What’s next for you?

Another birthday, I hope. Along with the prospect of seeing what God will do next in Jesus’ retake of God’s world.

Vocative God

As my memoir Accidental Preacher comes out in print, I want to share a series of reflections with you. This unexpected calling to preach continues to be an adventure, one I am thankful for and overwhelmed with every day.

Will


At the Northside UMC Wednesday morning prayer breakfast (God and a sausage biscuit at an ungodly hour), I piously asked the assembled laity, hoping to impress them with the earnestness of my pastoral care, “Pray for Mary. Johnny was booked last night. DUI. I’m going to see what I can do to get him out. Mary’s had a time with that boy.” Continue reading