The year just past produced a large number of books on preaching, including many quite useful contributions in addition to our book of the year, preaching to a Postmodern World by Graham Johnston. (Many of the books discussed below were released late in the year and will receive more comprehensive reviews in future issues of Preaching.)
One of the most significant releases of the year is the second edition of Haddon Robinson’s Biblical Preaching (Baker Books). Robinson’s volume has become a standard text on expository preaching at evangelical colleges and seminaries, and the second edition has been eagerly awaited. While retaining the solid content of the first edition, Robinson has also provided helpful updates which relate to the changing homiletical scene of the last two decades. The new edition is sure to guarantee Biblical Preaching its place in homiletical libraries for another generation.
Another outstanding book on expository preaching is Preparing Expository Sermons (Baker Books) by Ramesh Richard of Dallas Theological Seminary. Subtitled “A Seven-Step Method for Biblical Preaching,” Richard’s book provides a clear road map for creating and presenting solid biblical sermons using what he terms the “Scripture Sculpture” process. Richard’s book reflects his experience as a student of Haddon Robinson as well as his extensive experience preaching around the world.
Another former student of Robinson is Keith Willhite, who is also a faculty member at Dallas Seminary. Willhite’s new book is Preaching With Relevance Without Dumbing Down (Kregel). This outstanding book contains ten strategies for insuring communication relevance in expository sermons. In an age when too many observers assume you can be either biblical or relevant but not both, Willhite provides preachers with a varied strategy for accomplishing both goals. Among the chapter titles: “Look from the Pew’s Perspective,” “Use Applicational Wording,” and “Tell ‘n Show.” It is a practical volume and an enjoyable read that will be helpful to anyone who preaches.
Proclaiming the Truth: Guides to Scriptural Preaching (Evangel Publishing House) by Donald E. Demaray is also a practical guide for pastors seeking to develop solidly biblical sermons. Demaray, emeritus professor of preaching at Asbury Theological Seminary, offers a host of useful ideas for preachers. A major part of the book is built on the preaching principles of William Barclay, known to most preachers through his popular Daily Study Bible series.
An intriguing new volume which calls the church to a renewed emphasis on preaching the scriptures is The Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures: Preaching in an Electronic Age (Wipf & Stock Publishers) by Gregory Edward Reynolds. Reynolds, who is a Presbyterian pastor in Manchester, NH, and headmaster of the Granite State School of Theology & Missions, has written a substantial work which explores the vital need for biblical preaching in an age which has been all but swallowed up by contemporary media. Reynolds makes the case, as Joel Nederhood observes in the Foreword, that “In the face of the overwhelming idolatry of this age, there is but one antidote: the preaching of the Word of God.”
Another important work in homiletics that was re-released this year is As One Without Authority (Chalice Press) by Fred Craddock. When this book first appeared three decades ago, it helped lead a major shift in homiletical thought and introduced the phrase “inductive preaching” into the language of American preaching. Much of the conversation and debate in preaching over the past generation was launched by this volume and the books which followed and engaged it. Now revised and with new sermons included, those who are serious about understanding the homiletical scene will want to take advantage of this opportunity to understand Craddock’s contribution (and challenge) to our work.
Those who have heard Craddock preach know that the stories he weaves are a “secret weapon” of his preaching. Now Mike Graves and Richard Ward have compiled Craddock Stories (Chalice Press), a collection of more than 200 stories that Craddock tells, based on his own life and ministry. Even those who don’t follow Craddock’s preaching model will thoroughly enjoy the winsome and insightful stories in this collection. These illustrations are destined to find homes in thousands of sermons in the years ahead!
A number of new volumes in homiletics deal with special topics in preaching. For example, Scott M. Gibson of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary has written Preaching for Special Services (Baker Books), a helpful volume which offers insights on preaching at special events such as weddings, funerals, baptisms, and so on. This book will be of value to students as well as experienced ministers.
Preaching and Practical Ministry (Chalice Press) by Ronald J. Allen considers the role and relationship of preaching within the wider context of pastoral ministry. Allen — who teaches preaching and New Testament at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis — explores preaching as it relates to Christian education, pastoral care, administration, evangelism, and spiritual formation, and considers how preaching can strengthen our ministry in other areas.
Preaching Autobiography (ACU Press) is a significant volume released as part of the Rochester College Lectures on Preaching Series. The book is edited by David Fleer of Rochester College and Dave Bland of Harding Graduate School of Religion, and includes a series of essays which wrestle with the question: what role should the preacher himself play in the sermon? How do we walk the “fine line … between preaching Christ and parading ourselves,” as Will Willimon so eloquently poses the question in the foreword to this excellent volume. This useful volume offers a variety of insights on these and related questions.
Another excellent title that has just been released is The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative (Baker) by Steven D. Mathewson. The book includes three major sections: a hermeneutical discussion of how to study Old Testament narrative texts; a homiletical approach to taking such texts and developing strong sermons; and a collection of model sermons from Haddon Robinson, Don Sunukjian, Alice Matthews, Paul Borden, and one of the author’s own sermons. This volume will be of real value to preachers who want to be faithful to the biblical text while also creating sermons that are interesting and relevant to contemporary hearers.
Just as there are important hermeneutical issues to consider in preaching Old Testament narrative literature, the same many be said for preaching from Old Testament poetry. For approaching such passages preachers will find value in the new book Preaching the Psalms (Abingdon Press) by J. Clinton McCann, Jr., and James C. Howell. Quoting Walter Brueggemann’s injunction that preachers need to be “poets that preach against a prose world,” McCann and Howell proceed to discuss the “Why,” “How,” and “What” of preaching the Psalms. The book is lively and readable, and reflects the scholarship of a seminary professor (McCann) and the practical concerns of a pastor (Howell).
Part of the “Preaching Classic Texts” series from Chalice Press is Preaching Genesis 12-36 by A. Carter Shelley, a Presbyterian minister and homiletics instructor. Taking twelve key passages from Genesis, she provides biblical background, theological reflections, preaching strategies for each, then a model sermon. One interesting feature is the series of character sketches Shelley provides. Readers show be forewarned that the author writes from a perspective that does not accept the historical accuracy of the Genesis narratives.
Preaching to Every Pew (Fortress Press) by James R. Nieman and Thomas G. Rogers, deals with the growing cultural diversity that impacts the church as well as our society generally. Dealing with issues of ethnicity, class, displacement and religious beliefs, the authors discuss the place of cultural diversity in challenging communication, and they offer practical insights for preachers in dealing with those challenges. Nieman teaches homiletics at Warburg Theological Seminary in Iowa, while Rogers teaches at Pacific Lutheran Seminary in Berkeley, CA.
For those of us who learn best by watching others, there is much to learn from Theology Through Preaching (T&T Clark) by Colin E. Gunton. Gunton is Professor of Christian Doctrine at King’s College in London, and this book is a collection of thirty sermons — all preached at the same church over a span of more than a decade — which provide a broad overview of the essential truths of the Christian faith. Gunton’s work demonstrates that theology is done best when it is seeking to engage a congregation in the meaning of the biblical text. For example, the sermon “The Triune God” is one of the finest I have seen in explaining the implications of the Trinity for our life and work as Christians. The sermons here are not fluff; they are meaty but also quite clear, and will provide worthwhile reading and encouragement for pastors and others. The book also contains a fine essay on the theology of preaching by Christoph Schwobel, Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Heidelberg.
In God Sense: Reading the Bible for Preaching, Paul Scott Wilson seeks to provide “preachers and students with responsible ways to recover theological reading of the Bible for homiletics.” He does so by reclaiming the ancient approach of speaking about biblical texts in what was called the four senses or meanings of Scripture: literal (a description of a historical event); allegorical (implying a theological doctrine); moral (calling for some life change); and prophetic (implying some truth about the next life). As Wilson notes, “Early and medieval preachers picked up these four senses like four different pairs of eyeglasses, used them to read the Bible, and thereby discovered four different kinds of things to say about a lesson for their sermons.” This new volume will offer intriguing insights for preachers who seek to faithfully read and interpret scripture.
Birthing the Sermon (Chalice Press), edited by Jana Childers, offers the insights of a dozen women in ministry as they consider how they approach the creative process for preaching. Each chapter also includes a sample sermon from the contributor. Childers (who also contributes a chapter and sermon) is professor of homiletics and speech-communication at San Francisco Theological Seminary.
As preachers we observe with both gladness and trepidation the growing conversation about corporate worship. Among the new books which deal with this issue is The Dynamics of Corporate Worship (Baker Books) by Vernon M. Whaley. A minister of music (at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL) and former college professor of music, Whaley seeks to clarify the principles behind worship which can lead people to an appropriate and dynamic experience with God. A related book by Brad Berglund is Reinventing Sunday: Breakthrough Ideas for Transforming Worship (Judson Press). Berglund provides a practical resource for pastors and church leaders who want to think more deeply about the worship experience. Filled with useful ideas and timely quotes, this book would be an excellent resource for personal study or even for a church staff to discuss together.
Each year brings with it some new published collections of sermons, though not nearly as many as once graced the shelves of Christian bookstores, back when “Amazon” referred to a river in South America! Two recent offerings from a frequent contributor to Preaching are Wedding Sermons and Marriage Ceremonies and Let’s Get Committed (both from CSS Publishing) by Derl G. Keefer. The former volume — co-authored with Cheryl Rohret — contains 14 fiveminute wedding messages which cover a variety of life situations faced by pastors as they minister in this setting. The latter book contains a selection of excellent sermons based on Old Testament texts. (The texts are drawn from the lectionary Cycle A for Sundays after Pentecost.)
Another contributor to Preaching, Rick Ezell, is author of Cutting to the Core (Kregel), a book on “the seven components of Christian character” drawn from sermons preached at Naperville (IL) Baptist Church, where he serves as pastor.
Judson Press continues to provide the excellent series Outstanding Black Sermons, edited by Walter S. Thomas. This year’s Volume 4 contains messages from H. Beecher Hicks, James C. Perkins, Alfred A. Owens, Jr., and 13 other contributors.
Yes to Peace: Sermons on the Shalom of God (Chalice Press) contains 24 sermons on peace, many of them preached at the beginning of the millennium. The collection is edited by R. Scott Colglazier, senior minister of University Christian Church in Fort Worth, TX.
Another source of sermons and sermon ideas are the various annual handbooks produced by various publishers. (As the former editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual, I can testify to the hard work that goes into producing these volumes!) A new publication in this area is the Nelson’s Annual Preacher’s Sourcebook, 2002 Edition (Thomas Nelson) by Robert J. Morgan. Morgan, a Nashville pastor, has done an excellent job of gathering a large collection of sermons and worship resources into a single volume, which comes with a corresponding CD-ROM. In addition to 52 regular sermons, the volume contains additional sermon outlines, special occasion sermons, weekly worship plans, and a variety of other materials. This is a fine addition to the field of ministry resources.
Derl G. Keefer and C. Neil Strait jointly served as compilers and editors of The Wesleyan Preaching Annual 2001-2002 (CSS Publishing), which is based on Cycle A lectionary texts. The editors and majority of contributors are Nazarene, but the list also includes non-Nazarenes who stand in the Wesleyan tradition. Assembled in a loose-leaf notebook format, the Annual includes worship helps and two “sermon briefs” (a term that originated in Preaching) for each Sunday of the year.
New Proclamation — Year A, 2001-2002 (Fortress Press), edited by Marshall D. Johnson, is an annual resource for preachers who use the lectionary texts in planning their messages. Taking each Sunday of the year, the authors provide brief reflections and/or interpretations of each of the lectionary readings, with the Gospel text receiving a more extended treatment.
Of course, the “granddaddy” of such volumes is The Minister’s Manual 2002 (Josey-Bass), edited by James W. Cox. Used by successive generations of ministers, the Minister’s Manual continues to provide one of the most comprehensive one-volume resources for pastors, including both lectionary and topical sermons (full texts and outlines), children’s sermons, various worship aids, and more. Cox, who has edited this volume since 1984, is senior professor of preaching at Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville.
In Wisdom from a Pastor’s Heart (Josey-Bass), Douglas Connelly has gathered excerpts from 75 years of The Minister’s Manual to provide a fascinating collection of quotes and scripture passages on a variety of topics, from “Anger” to “Work.” You’ll find plenty of “sermon seeds” in this small volume, along with words of encouragement and inspiration.
One of the finest contributions to pastoral publishing this year is In Times of Crisis and Sorrow — A Minister’s Manual Resource Guide (Josey-Bass), edited by Carol M. Noren. Published as a companion volume to the Minister’s Manual, this publication offers an excellent collection of resources for pastors as they deal with sorrow and crisis within a congregation. The book is packed with sermons, prayers, and other resources which will make it one of those references which is pulled from the shelf again and again by pastors as they minister to the hurts and griefs found in any congregation. Noren is a former pastor and chaplain who now teaches at Chicago’s North Park Seminary (and is a Contributing Editor of Preaching).
Finally, preachers will welcome volume 5 of “The Words of Gardner Taylor” series: Lectures, Essays and Interviews (Judson Press). Edited by Edward L. Taylor, this wonderful series is making accessible to a wide audience the remarkable sermonic contributions of Gardner C. Taylor, often called the “Dean of American Black Preachers.” This particular volume contains essays written and lectures presented by Taylor, primarily about preaching. Any preacher’s work will be strengthened by reading the insights of this towering figure of the 20th century American pulpit. Here’s a prayer that he will continue to preach long into the 21st century!

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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