Explosive Preaching: Letters on Detonating the Gospel in the 21st Century
Ron Boyd-McMillan, Paternoster Press, 2006. Paper, 277 pages.
“Why is it that so much preaching today bores listeners,” asks Ron Boyd-MacMillan. He offers three answers: Some preachers no longer find God thrilling; some preachers are boring people; and some preachers are boring speakers.
The third category is the largest, he believes. He writes, “Many preachers don’t know how to express their excitement about God in words that hold attention and move people. Many of them know it, too, and just put it down to the usual journey of a great idea in the world of thought seeming a lot less impressive when birthed into the world of words.”
This book aims to help preachers better understand how to make the gospel explode through the sermon. The first section deals with the challenges of preaching today. The second section deals with the elements that make preaching effective and includes six tests preachers can take and use to enhance their sermons. The third section of the book features a brief survey of preaching through the centuries, offering a look at various models that have been used to connect with listeners. The fourth section deals with a variety of questions preachers face today as they seek to communicate biblical truth.
Each chapter is supposed to be in the form of a letter to preachers—which could have added a personal element to the discussion—but they are essential chapters labeled “letters.” Nevertheless, the author writes in a conversational style that effectively engages the reader.
Boyd-MacMillan believes the 21st century has the potential to be a “golden age” for preaching. He says, “You need two elements for a preaching golden age: You need a society that clamors to hear the Word of God; you also need preachers who will speak to the age, rather than past it. The first is definitely on its way in the West I believe; and the second—well, that’s why we’re corresponding. I have high hopes for you.”
In another section, he cites the four questions listeners ask: Is the preacher alive? Does the preacher care? Is the preacher wounded? Is the preacher talking about God? On the last point, he writes: “Listeners come to church for a blindingly simple reason: They want to know what God is up to. A preacher who makes no attempt to tell them is a real let-down.”
Explosive Preaching is an interesting and helpful resource for preachers who want to make a bang in the pulpit.