Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003. Paper, 150 pp. ISBN 0-687-06630-1

In this interesting survey of the preaching craft, J. Ellsworth Kalas writes out of his 38 years of pastoral experience, in addition to his current insights as Professor of Preaching at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is an outstanding preacher who now teaches young preachers, and in this book he shares that mentoring with a wider audience.

Kalas observes that, “Soul preaching happens when the speaker seeks to deliver not only a message, but his or her own soul, and to deliver it in such a way that it reaches the soul of the hearer.” Such preaching, he says, is personal, passionate, and opens the preacher to become truly vulnerable. It is preaching “that believes so much in the worth of the hearer that he or she risks the baring of the soul.”

This brief volume is not one you’ll turn to in order to find brand new insights on preaching. Rather, it is a reminder – from the heart of an experienced pastor – of how we go about preparing and presenting sermons that touch the souls of others. The pages are filled with good advice to preachers, such as “Avoid beginning with an apology,” along with reminders like, “The introduction . . . is not the place for complexity.”

I particularly appreciated his affirmation near the conclusion of the book: “I think that every sermon ought in some way to be Christ’s Second Coming. . . . It ought to be Christ coming again, sometimes quietly as when he entered a room and the disciples didn’t know whence he had come, and sometimes dramatically, as in the clouds of the sky, with the shout of the archangel and the trump of God. And sometimes as he came very simply, meeting our need as when he broke bread for the disciples, cooking a meal for them at the seashore. Somehow we ought o know in the preaching of the Word, that Christ, the eternal Word, has come – even to those who do not recognize him or so not want him.”

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