Review: Preaching with Bold Assurance: A Solid and Enduring Approach to Engaging Exposition

Preaching with Bold Assurance: A Solid and Enduring Approach to Engaging ExpositionPreaching with Bold Assurance: A Solid and Enduring Approach to Engaging Exposition by Hersheal York
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is divided into three parts: The Text, The Sermon, and Delivery. Part I was the strongest. Part II started with an explanation of the trademarked Decker Grid System for building sermons that felt like quite a departure from Part I, though getting past that, there was definitely good material. Part III was about delivering sermons so the focus was on effective communication. Some of the psychology stuff got in the way, but it helped me think about different aspects of delivering a sermon and connecting with an audience.

Overall, it is not an exhaustive treatment, nor was it intended to be. The book covers a good bit of ground from studying the text, to building the sermon, to delivering the sermon. Throughout I was challenged to think about my own ministry and examine deficient areas in my own preaching. I’m thankful for the book and recommend it as worth reading.

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Review: The Art of Prophesying with the Calling of the Ministry: A Needed Tool for All Pastors

The Art of Prophesying with The Calling of the Ministry: A Needed Tool for All PastorsThe Art of Prophesying with The Calling of the Ministry: A Needed Tool for All Pastors by William Perkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The original being published in the late 1500s was the first book on preaching written and published in the English language. By “prophesying,” the author refers to preaching as the expounding of Scripture and application of its truth to the congregation. It’s an old usage and does not in any way refer to modern day prophesying by various charismatics.

Perkins treats preaching from a pastoral perspective. There are some practical suggestions here and there, but very little space is given to aspects of delivery. He primarily deals with interpreting and expounding Scripture. So it’s quite a contrast from so many more modern books on preaching. Perkins throughout promotes a high view of the sufficiency and authority of Scripture, such that preaching including teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction, should all come from the meaning of the passage of Scripture. This high view of Scripture and the presupposition that all aspects of preaching should derive from the natural meaning of the text is what gives this treatment on preaching high value. Even his words on applications have the same assumption.

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Review: Preaching in the New Testament

Preaching in the New TestamentPreaching in the New Testament by Jonathan Griffiths
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a biblical theology of preaching in the New Testament. The author seeks to find the link, if it exists, from prophetic preaching, to Jesus, to Paul, to Timothy, and to post-apostolic preaching today. He makes a good argument in exegetical fashion with examination of three key terms for preaching in the New Testament and some key textual passages relevant to preaching.

This is not a how-to book, so it will not be much help to learn how to preach. The book deals more with the why of preaching and emphasizes that preaching God’s word as he has given it is how God’s voice is heard today. He focuses on the public proclamation of God’s word in the assembly of God’s people, but he also give some remarks to other facets of word ministry.

This book is more a foundational study of preaching. Though not teaching how to preach, explaining the foundation of preaching will surely shape how it is done. This book isn’t light reading, but it isn’t too technical. I enjoyed the thought provoking study and will return to it again for reference.

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Review: Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon

Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository SermonChrist-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon by Bryan Chapell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a good book on preaching. The explanation of exposition was good and there are great nuggets scattered throughout. I think the chapter on illustrations was really good. I also liked the explanation of what Christ-centered exposition is. I did not buy in on his fallen condition focus approach to a text. I also would poke at some the stuff on application. The appendices provide brief, practical advice. Overall it a good book on preaching expository sermons.

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Review: Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers

Why Johnny Can't Preach: The Media Have Shaped the MessengersWhy Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers by T. David Gordon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

By the title of this book I expected it to be somewhat playful, but Gordon is all business. It is a serious subject and a serious problem, so his serious manner is appropriate. He transparently states the state of things in the average pulpit today. Though anecdotal, anyone with church-going experience can verify his unscientific findings. His concern is not that there are no great preachers today, but rather that the average pulpit in the average church doesn’t even have average preaching, but less than mediocre preaching.

Usually churches respond to this problem by trying to make up for it in other ways. They fool about with styles of music, interior design and decoration, technology, nurseries, groups, programs, etc. If they address the preaching directly it is to push for the twenty minute, one thought type of message. Gordon points out this is like a hospital having an excessive death rate in surgeries and choosing to address it by banning the use of scalpels in the operating room.

He doesn’t merely bewail the state of things but seeks to uncover the problem root. He acknowledges seminaries are imperfect, but he can’t lay the blame there. He contends Johnnies don’t have the inculturation necessary to preach well before they even enter seminary. He lists three sensibilities a man must have cultivated before he even begins to learn to preach. 1) “the sensibility of the close reading of texts.” 2) “the sensibility of composed communication.” 3) “the sensibility of the significant.”

He concludes by recommending ways Johnnies can cultivate these sensibilities. He did not set out to write the definitive work on preaching, but rather to address requisite beginning. His case is well put and compelling. Any man who is called to preach must be aware of the limitations of his upbringing in the media ecology of today and he must be deliberate about cultivating the skills required to preach well. If this book gets a man pointed in this direction, then it is well worth it.

I found some parts less compelling than others. I also scratched my head at different times. For instance, Gordon made a point of not apologizing for his classic use of masculine pronouns. So he baldly states he will be uber-conservative, traditional, and stodgy on that point. However, he makes a point of this in order to say that his old school grammarian ways are not to be interpreted to exclude women. Say what? This is a book about preachers and preaching and you make a point of saying you’re not excluding women. So in the same breath he defends his curmudgeonly use of grammar, but in service of liberal, progressive error. I think Johnny the Apostle might say, “That maketh no sense.”

I still think it’s a worthy book but reading it might be like listening to a lecture from a professor with a bad comb-over. What he is saying is important, but those flyaways can be distracting.

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