During the 25 years of Preaching magazine’s publication history, books have played a major role in the publication. No wonder—books are the lifeblood of the preacher’s work. Because books play such a vital role in the life of the preacher, this publication has offered a key resource to help preachers know which volumes promise to help us be more effective in the task of proclaiming the Word.
Each year, Preaching offers an extensive survey of the best books for preachers published in the past year; since the beginning, that survey has been written by R. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Until moving to the seminary presidency in 1993, Mohler served as associate editor of Preaching, and wrote all the book reviews, as well as conducting a number of interviews. Upon assuming the presidency, Mohler stepped back from writing “The Preacher’s Bookshelf,” which appears in most issues, but still writes the annual survey, as well as compiling his annual list: “The 10 Books Every Preacher Should Read this Year.” Since 1993, Editor Michael Duduit has written the “Bookshelf” column, as well as the annual survey of the best homiletical books of the year (including the Preaching Book of the Year), which accompanies Mohler’s survey.
One of the distinctive elements of Preaching‘s focus on books has been to identify the best publications in the area of homiletics. Such books make up the bulk of book reviews in each issue and typically are the source of those titles recognized as Book of the Year, with just a few exceptions. During the past 25 years, what have been the most influential books on preaching—those volumes that have made the greatest impact on American preaching?
In recent weeks we’ve surveyed readers, preaching professors and influencers to compile what we believe to be those books which more than any others have shaped the thinking and teaching about preaching in the past quarter century.
#1 Biblical Preaching by Haddon Robinson (Baker Books)
This book stands apart from all the others in terms of recognition by those who study preaching—by far it received the most nominations from pastors and professors. The book was originally published in 1980, 30 years ago, but has dominated the classrooms of evangelical colleges and seminaries in the past 25 years. A revised second edition was published in 2001, guaranteeing that succeeding generations of young preachers would benefit from this outstanding introduction to the task of preparing and presenting biblical sermons.
Robinson’s emphasis on “Big Idea” preaching has shaped the thinking of thousands of expository preachers and been the major influence on many of those who teach preaching in today’s classrooms. More than any other book of the past quarter century, Biblical Preaching has profoundly influenced a generation of evangelical preachers.
#2 Homiletic: Moves and Structures by David Buttrick (Fortress Press)
The second Book of the Year recognized by Preaching also was one of the minority of such titles not written by an evangelical author. Nevertheless, Buttrick’s book, published in 1986, has influenced the thinking of mainline and evangelical preachers and teachers with its insights about the sermon as a series of “moves” rather than simply propositional points. A densely written tome, it caused a generation of teachers and students of preaching to think beyond the traditional categories, which normally were found in homiletical literature.
#3 Between Two Worlds by John R.W. Stott (Eerdmans)
First published in 1982, Stott popularized the dominant metaphor used to describe the work of the preacher in today’s world, the messenger of God with one foot planted in the biblical world and the other in the contemporary setting. Few books in the past quarter century have more profoundly influenced how preachers think of their own task.
#4 Preaching by Fred Craddock (Abingdon)
The very first Preaching Book of the Year, Craddock’s book (like the author himself) has influenced a generation of young preachers to discover the power of inductive approaches and the use of story in preaching. Apart from Robinson’s book, this probably has been the most widely used preaching text in seminary classrooms in the past 25 years.
#5 The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text by Sidney Greidanus (Eerdmans)
Greidanus’ text helped influence countless preachers and teachers in understanding and emphasizing the critical nature of biblical genre in shaping the sermon. The book was Preaching‘s Book of the Year in 1990.
#6 Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell (Baker)
#7 The Homiletical Plot: The Sermon As Narrative Art Form by Eugene L. Lowry (Westminster John Knox)
#8 The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper (Baker)
#9 The Witness of Preaching by Thomas G. Long (Westminster John Knox)
#10 Rediscovering Expository Preaching by John MacArthur & Masters Seminary faculty (Word)
#11 Handbook of Contemporary Preaching, edited by Michael Duduit (Broadman)
#12 Preaching & Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Zondervan)
#13 Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley (Multnomah)
#14 The Preaching Life by Barbara Brown Taylor (Cowley Publications)
#15 Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture by Graeme Goldsworthy (Eerdmans)
#16 The Burdensome Joy of Preaching by James Earl Massey (Abingdon)
#17 The Company of the Preachers by David L. Larsen (Kregel)
#18 360-Degree Preaching by Michael Quicke (Baker)
#19 Preaching and Teaching with Imagination by Warren W. Wiersbe (Victor)
#20 Scripture Sculpture by Ramesh Richard (Baker Academic)
#21 The Art & Craft of Biblical Preaching, edited by Haddon Robinson and Craig Brian Larsen (Zondervan)
#22 Preaching: The Art of Narrative Exposition by Calvin Miller (Baker)
#23 The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative by Steven Matthewson (Baker Academic)
#24 Doctrine that Dances by Robert Smith (B&H)
#25 Concise Encyclopedia of Preaching, edited by William H. Willimon and Richard Lischer (Westminster/John Knox Press)