The past year offered a great selection of new books on preaching, including our 2006 Preaching Book of the Year, The Art & Craft of Biblical Preaching, edited by Haddon Robinson and Craig Brian Larsen and published by Zondervan. (See further down for moreinformation on this title.)
Several of the more significant preaching volumes of 2005 are revised and updated second editions of important earlier works, including Christ-Centered Preaching (Baker) by Bryan Chapell, and The Witness of Preaching (Westminster JohnKnox) by Tom Long. John MacArthur and the faculty of The Master’s Seminary have produced a new volume (adapted from their earlier Rediscovering Expository Preaching), titled Preaching: How to Preach Biblically (Thomas Nelson).
Most of the key preaching books of 2005, however, are original works and make important contributions to those committed to the divinely-ordained task of preaching.
Those preachers who want to breathe new life into their own expository sermons will appreciate Effective First-Person Biblical Preaching (Zondervan) by J. Kent Edwards. Edwards – who teaches preaching at Talbot School of Theology – explains how preachers can help the biblical text be proclaimed in creative new ways by preaching from the perspective of one of the biblical characters.The book includes a variety of helpful tools, plus a CD-ROM with a video demonstration.
Another practical offering is Sermon CPR (Beacon Hill Press) by Bob Allen. This new book offers solid assistance in evaluating and improving your preaching. Allen, a former pastor and Bible college professor, has packed a treasury of evaluative tools into this useful volume. He emphasizes the importance of self-evaluation in preaching, then offers us a book packed with practical tools that can be used to better understand how we preach, along with useful ideas for improvement.
In a society where ethics has become an increasingly important topic of discussion, pastor Dean Shriver has offered ministers an important consideration of that issue within the context of preaching with his book Nobody’s Perfect, But You Have to Be (Baker). Subtitled “The Power of Personal Integrity in Effective Preaching,” this slim volume offers an important reminder about the critical importance of the preacher’s own integrity. Shriver deals with topics like -deals with issues like humility, purity of life and mind, temperance and more. In an age when many church leaders have been sidelined over ethical and moral issues, this is a timely book.
In Broken Words: Reflections on the Craft of Preaching (Abingdon), PaulScott Wilson provides a series of brief essays on the task of preaching, and accompanies each with a sermon that highlights that concern.
In an important book just released in recent weeks, William H Willimon deals with Proclamation and Theology (Abingdon). As Willmon notes, “Preaching is a theological act, our attempt to do business with a God who speaks. It isalso a theological act in that a sermon is God’s attempt to do business with us through words.” He argues that the primary problems facing contemporarypreaching are theological, and that, “There is nothing wrong with contemporary preaching that can’t be cured through having something to say about and from God.”
Several interesting collections of sermons were published in 2005. Preaching in the New Millenium (Yale University Press), edited by Frederick J. Streets, includes selected sermons preached at the chapel of Yale University during 2001, the school’s 300th anniversary. The sermons by Gardner Taylor and Will Willimon were among my favorites. Another university-related collection is Sermons from Duke Chapel (Duke Univ. Press), edited by William Willimon, who recently left Duke to become a United Methodist bishop in Birmingham. The book features a collection of 58 sermons preached in that magnificent gothic church, including sermons by Billy Graham, Gerald Kennedy, Elton Trueblood, Fred Craddock, Carlyle Marney, Howard Thurman, Elizabeth Achtemeier, and Willimon himself.
One of the morsintersting sermon collections of recent years is Stirred Not Shaken:Themes for an Emerging Generation (Chalice) by Mark Feldmeir, a United Methodist pastor who preaches to a young California congregation. He deals with four themes that he believes concern his young congregants: ambiguity, suffering, transformation,and reconciliation.
Among the interesting books published in 2005:
~ Why Men Hate Going to Church (Nelson Books), in which David Murrow discusses a variety of ways in which today’s worship is oriented toward the way women learn, not men. Murrow’s controversial book suggests ways preachers and teachers can connect more effectively with male listeners.
~ In Preaching Parables to Postmoderns (Fortress), Brian C. Stiller offers valuable insights on the value of the parables for postmoderns, and help to pastors in applying biblical truth in today’s culture. He offers an extended discussion of Jesus’ parables and why they can be used so effectively in preaching to our contemporary culture, then offers a study of ten different parables, and concludes with four model sermons based on parables of Jesus.
~ Listening to Listeners: Homiletical Case Studies Chalice Press) grew out of a study (funded by the Lilly Endowment) to evaluate how people listen to sermons. The authors – John McClure, Ron Allen, Dale Andrews, L. Susan Bond, Dan Moseley and G. Lee Ramsey – interviewed more than 260 laypeople (plus pastors) in 28 congregations across the country. The book reports on the results of that study, and includes excerpts from interviews with a variety of listeners. In a related study, Believing in Preaching:What Listeners Hear in Sermons (Chalice), the authors discuss the diverse ways that congregations listen to sermons.
~ Preaching God’s Word (Zondervan) is designed as a textbook for collegeor seminary preaching classes; the authors (Terry Carter, J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays) teach at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas.
~ Performing the Psalms (Chalice), edited by Dave Bland and David Fleer, includes six essays dealing with preaching the Psalms, complemented by seven model sermons.
~ In Preparing Evangelistic Sermons (Baker), Ramesh Richard talks about issues relating to evangelistic preaching, and offers a seven-step model based on his Scripture Sculpture approach.
~ Wondrous Depth: Preaching the Old Testament (Westminster John Knox) by Ellen F. Davis grew out of her presentation of the 2003 Beecher Lectures on Preaching at Yale. The book also includes selected model sermons by Davis, who is a Professor of Bible and Practical Theology at Duke Divinity School.
Finally, Preaching readers will want to know about two recently-issued biographies that introduce readers to the lives and ministries of a pair of gifted proclaimers of God’s Word. Love Worth Finding (Broadman & Holman) combines a brief biography of Adrian Rogers – who died in November 2005 – with a section discussing his approach to preaching. The book is written by Joyce Rogers, his wife, and provides a survey of his life and ministry, with special emphasis on his years as pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, now one of the nation’s largest congregations. J. Sidlow Baxter: A Heart Awake (Baker Books) by E.A. Johnston is the story of one of the past century’s most gifted expositors and authors. A powerful preacher who once pastored Scotland’s largest Baptist church, Baxter is best known to contemporary readers through his many outstanding books. This book will help introduce Baxter to a new generation of pastors and Christian leaders.
The 2005 Preaching Book of the Year:
The Art & Craft of Biblical Preaching is one of the most useful preaching volumes to be published in some time, and we are pleased to recognize it as our Preaching Book of the Year.
Edited by Haddon Robinson (the Gordon-Conwell Seminary professor and Preaching Contributing Editor whose Biblical Preaching is one of the homiletical classics of the 20th century) and Craig Brian Larsen (who edits PreachingToday.com for Christianity Today), this hefty volume is packed with useful insights and practical tools for any preacher.
The 732-page book contains more than 200 chapters – some relatively brief, others lengthy essays on a topic. Although there are several original contributions offered, most of the material included has appeared previously in one of several publications or pastoral resources published by Christianity Today: Leadership Journal, PreachingToday.com, and Preaching Today audio. A bonus feature is an accompanying audio CD that contains excerpts from sermons which originally appeared in Preaching Today.
Robinson and Larsen have divided the book into eleven major sections, dealing with the preacher’s calling, spiritual life, listeners, biblical interpretation and application, sermon structure, style, illustrations, preparation, delivery, special topics, and evaluation. The list of contributors is a veritable who’s who of contemporary preachers, inclding John Stott, Jack Hayford, Bill Hybels, Michael Quicke, Warren Wiersbe, Maxie Dunnam, Joe Stowell, William Willimon, Alistair Begg, Earl Palmer, Ben Patterson, Rob Bell, Bryan Chapell, Fred Craddock, Rock Warren, Stuart Briscoe, John Piper, Bob Russell, Andy Stanley, and many more.
This is a book that deserves to spend time on the preacher’s desk before it settles into a permanent home on the preacher’s bookshelf. In fact, many will find that reading a chapter a day will provide a helpful (and inexpensive) continuing education program that will run several months. The toughest discipline will be stopping after one chapter!
Michael Duduit is Editor of Preaching magazine and President of American Ministry Resources. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website at www.michaelduduit.com.