It’s All In How You Tell It: Preaching First-Person Expository Messages Haddon W. Robinson & Torrey W. Robinson July 1, 2003 It’s All In How You Tell It: Preaching First-Person Expository Messages. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003. Paper, 143 pages$12.99. ISBN 0-8010-9150-0. Too often, I hear preachers say that while they would like to take a more expository approach in their sermons, they fear their people won’t stand for a “dry and dusty” verse-by-verse approach. That caricature of expository preaching is all too common among evangelical preachers. Now along comes a father-and-son contribution that further dispels the notion that exposition equals boredom. It’s All in How You Tell It: Preaching First-Person Expository Messages is written by Haddon W. Robinson, the “600-pound gorilla” of expository preaching (and professor of preaching at Gordon-Conwell Seminary), and his son Torrey, now a Baptist pastor in Tarreytown, NY. Recognizing that many preachers have only a single, deductive sermon model in their repertoire – which is repeated Sunday after Sunday for years on end – the Robinsons want pastors to understand that “The Scriptures provide no single form that Christian sermons must take.” They point out that the biblical authors used a variety of communicative approaches, from story to history to letters, “all forms borrowed from their cultures and used to communicate what they had to say.” The authors present inductive development as an important model for preachers seeking to communicate in a contemporary culture that gives little inherent authority to the biblical text. One of the most popular inductive methods is the use of story, they say, and “one of the best ways to develop a story is to use the first person, to climb inside the story and tell it from the perspective of one of the characters.” “Crafting a first-person sermon,” the authors observe, not only requires all the biblical study of other methods, “but it requires more. It calls on you to use your imagination as an interpretive tool.” Such preaching, they believe, not only increases the interest of the listeners – it also reinvigorates the preacher who has fallen into a hum-drum sameness in his preaching preparation. The Robinsons make the case for the first-person expository sermon, which “is based on an accurate interpretation of scripture and applies its meaning to the hearers. It does this through the retelling of the scriptural account from the vantage point of a character who was part of the story.” They discuss the process of study and preparation – identifying many of the issues which must be considered – and how to select and craft the character through whom the story will be told. They offer four “stages” of sermon construction, then explore the process of actual presentation (movement, delivery, costuming). The concluding section of the book is a collection of seven first-person expository sermons, with contributions from both authors plus several other excellent preachers. It’s All in How You Tell It is a well-written and helpful guide to a preaching model that could offer many pastors an occasional, much-needed breath of fresh air in their preaching schedule. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.