Preaching and pastoring are two of the most difficult things I have ever been called to do. As John Knox once stated, "I have never feared the devil, but I tremble every time I enter the pulpit." I was blessed to study under some wonderful Godly men during my time in seminary, but I still struggled with becoming a better preacher. I have read many preaching books and listened to countless sermons but I longed for more practical instruction.
This is where the Irishman and the Aussie step in. Gary Millar and Phil Campbell draw from their experience as preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and provide a great "how-to" book on preaching.
"When attention wanders and eyes droop, it's more often our fault than our listeners'" (14) Millar and Campbell challenge us, as preachers, to not just avoid being deadly dull, but be faithful, accurate and cut to the heart of what God is saying and show how to apply it to the lives of the listeners.
In eight chapters, the authors take us through the sermon preparation and delivery process, providing practical examples along the way. They also provide useful resources in the appendices, including full-text examples of sermons with critiques. Additionally, they provide an example sermon feedback form for those of us who are committed to becoming better preachers.
Chapter 1 begins where all sermon prep should begin, prayer. Not only for the pastor, but also for the sermon.
Chapters 2 and 3 deal with expository preaching and how to preach to the heart without being manipulative. They show how we can be faithful expositors without being dull and boring. We are reminded to not resort to slick techniques but rather we are to speak plainly and allow the text to speak for itself. Both Millar and Campbell advocate the preaching of individual books through the use of longer passages. (38) These 12-week series allow the capture of the flow of the book but allow the people to get their heads around the details. (38)
Chapters 4 through 8 delve into the details of how this is accomplished. Chapter 4 walks step by step through the process of finding the "big idea" of the passage being preached. Campbell shows how he approaches the text in preparation for the Sunday sermon. He closes this chapter with very practical guidelines for Christ-centered application
Chapter 5 tackles preaching the Old Testament with a Christ-centered hermeneutic. Millar shows nine different ways we can approach Scripture in making our path to the cross of Christ. Chapter 6 deals with the aspects of delivery (pitch, volume, pace). Chapter 7 and Appendix 1 provide insight into how to give and, more importantly, receive criticism.
This book is a preaching conference is printed form. Millar and Campbell provide easy to apply examples all pastors can follow to become better expositors of God's word. We all struggle with various aspects of sermon preparation and delivery and long to become better. I recommend this book highly to all pastors and seminary students. Don't look at it as a mold but see it as a blueprint to better preaching.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Cross Focused Reviews as part of their Saving Eutychus Blog Tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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