Warren W. Wiersbe, The Dynamics of Preaching. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999). ISBN 0-8010-9089-X. Paper, 173 pages. $10.99.
Few people know preaching as well as Warren Wiersbe. This gifted preacher and Bible teacher is the author of countless books, including several outstanding volumes about the practice and history of preaching. In this brief volume — part of a new “Ministry Dynamics” series being produced by Baker Books — Wiersbe goes back to the basics in a book that will be enjoyed by both novice preachers and experienced pastors.
In The Dynamics of Preaching, Wiersbe provides a survey of topics that concern preaching in our day, from the biblical foundations of preaching to the purposes of preaching to the methodology of preaching. Written in an engaging and readable style, Wiersbe’s volume touches on topics that will not be new to readers of Preaching, but he addresses them in a fresh and enjoyable manner that will encourage the most veteran preacher. At the same time, this book will be a tremendous guide to the younger preacher who is seeking to become more firmly established in his calling and craft.
Wiersbe provides wise counsel in many areas. For example, in a chapter entitled “We Preach to Real People,” Wiersbe reminds us: “It’s a red-letter day in your life when you discover that congregations really don’t do anything except assemble. In the local church, individuals get the work done, so the smart minister preaches to individuals. That doesn’t mean that we single people out and address them pontifically from the pulpit. But it does mean that we adopt an approach in our delivery that says to the people: Yes, I know I’m on this platform and occasionally behind this pulpit and you’re sitting down there. But that’s only so you can all see me and hear me. I’d much rather be sitting with you and sharing this message. I can’t do that, so I’ll do the next best thing and deliver my message as if I were at your side.”
The author also offers a pointed reminder that we when we preach, we do so for a singular purpose: to effect change in the lives of those who hear. As he notes, “our goal in preaching is not just to provide religious education but to encourage spiritual transformation. When people listen to preaching, we want them to change by experiencing God through the Word and giving his spirit the freedom to make them more like Jesus Christ. We pray not only for a change in conduct but also for a change in character.”
Wiersbe discusses a variety of useful topics, such as the importance of the preacher’s own spiritual life, and the necessity of our dependence on the Holy Spirit. Addressing a topic that has consumed much of his recent writing, Wiersbe addresses the value of imagination in the task of preaching. As he points out, “God is infinitely original, but those of us who speak about God can be painfully dull.” He provides practical insights into how imagination works and how we can strengthen the creative spark within.
This brief volume is a distillation of much of Wiersbe’s writing and teaching about preaching, and deserves a place in many a classroom and pastor’s study.
Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III, General Editors. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998) ISBN 0-8308-1451-5. Cloth, 1058 pages.
There are a handful of books that belong on the desk of every preaching minister, and this may well become one of those volumes. This major reference work provides an “encyclopedic exploration of the images, symbols, motifs, metaphors, figures of speech and literary patterns of the Bible.”
Stretching from “Aaron’s Rod” to “Zion,” the Dictionary is a remarkable collection of useful insights about the images that make up such a significant part of Scripture. Preachers will find themselves turning to this collection again and again to better understand biblical passages as well as to add unique insights in their communication of biblical truth.
The Dictionary also includes significant articles about each book of the Bible which treats some of the thematic imagery used in those books.
Just as Warren Wiersbe addresses the need for imagination in preaching, this substantial volume helps you better understand the imaginative language used in the Bible, and will assist you in capturing those insights as you proclaim God’s truth.
Book Notes
Preaching in Revival: Preaching and a Theology of Awakening by Philip W. Keevil. (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1999) ISBN 0-7618-1494-9. Cloth ($49.00) or Paper ($27.50).
Preaching in Revival explores the nature of religious awakening and its relationship to the art of preaching. Keevil identifies the problems of preaching in a postmodern era and specifically addresses what kind of preaching can promote religious awakening in a society like our own. The author provides a healthy historical perspective on religious awakenings as, well as an analysis of the psychological aspects of revival.
Though this book is published by art organization that typically publishes scholarly works and doctoral dissertations, this book is not an abstract treatise; it is well-written and is easily accessible to the reading pastor. Keevil is senior pastor of the Woodland Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA.
Preaching the Wedding Sermon by Susan K. Hedahl. (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 1999) ISBN 0-8272-2960-7. Paper, 124 pages. $14.99.
Just this week I was speaking with a colleague about the limited number of publications about “special day” preaching, then this book arrived in the mail. It addresses a topic that is common to every pastor: preaching fresh, meaningful wedding sermons.
Hedahl is associate professor of homiletics at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, PA, and a former Lutheran parish minister. She provides information about the history and theology of marriage, and offers practical ideas for preparing and delivering wedding sermons. The book includes five sample wedding sermons by both Protestant and Roman Catholic ministers, and a useful appendix with a list of Biblical texts which can be used to develop such messages.
New Proclamation, Year B 1999-2000, Advent Through Holy Week. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999) ISBN 0-8006-4241-4. Paper, 260 pages. $24.99.
New Proclamation is a resource designed for those who use the Revised Common Lectionary, the Roman Catholic lectionary, and the Book of Common Prayer to guide their preaching. For each Sunday the reader will find a list of the various lectionary readings, and a brief treatment about the key texts, including guidance on interpreting and responding to the text. While there is not a lot of material on any single text, it does provide a suggested approach and some interesting insights on each passage.
Contributors to this volume include: David L. Bartlett, Lantz Professor of Preaching, Yale Divinity School; K.C. Hanson, Biblical Studies editor at Fortress Press; Nancy Koester, a Lutheran pastor and adjunct instructor at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN; and Gerard S. Sloyan, Emeritus Professor of Religion at Temple University.
The Anatomy of Preaching by David L. Larsen. (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1989). ISBN 0-8254-3098-4. Paper, 203 pages.
This book, originally published a decade ago by Baker, has recently been re-released by Kregel. Larsen, who taught preaching for many years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, is also the author of The Company of the Preachers, a magnificent one-volume look at the history of preachers that has become a frequent companion in my own study.
In The Anatomy of Preaching (sub-titled “Identifying the Issues in Preaching Today”), Larsen discusses fifteen issues that can affect a pastor’s effectiveness, including the viability of preaching, its authority, spirituality, relevance, and creativity. The author wrestles with many of the same issues preachers are thinking about, and does so in an interesting and helpful manner. There is much practical help to be found in this brief volume.

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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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