Top Five Books on Preaching

imagesThis morning, I want to share with you a handful of books that I have found very helpful in learning how to prepare and deliver sermons. These are books that have blessed me personally and that have proven to be very helpful for those who are just learning how to preach. Here is the list with a few comments about each one of them. (Click on the titles to go to Amazon)

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1.) “Power in the Pulpit” by Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix (Moody, 1999) Dr. Vines is one of the best expository preachers that you will ever hear and he has worked with Jim Shaddix, who serves as a preaching professor New Orleans Baptist Seminary, to produce one of the most helpful books that you will ever read on sermon preparation and delivery. This is the first book that I would recommend that you buy and read. They will take you through every step of the preparation process and then offer tremendous advice on delivery. This is a must read for every preacher in my mind.

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2.) “Expository Preaching” by Harold Bryson (Broadman and Holman, 1995) This book will help you to develop the skills to preach through a book of the Bible. I highly recommend that you consider preaching through entire books of the BIble as the major part of your preaching ministry. You will find that over time this is the very best way to help your people develop a Biblical mindset and it will force you to deal with a range of subjects. Bryson’s book is the best manual for how to do this that I have come across.  If you are interested in preaching through books of the Bible you might want to read my article entitled “Preparing to Preach Through a Book of the Bible.”

3.) “Christ Centered Preaching by Brian Chapell (Baker Academic, 2005) Jesus is the central figure in

Cover of "Christ-Centered Preaching: Rede...
Cover via Amazon

all the BIble and all Christian preaching must, therefore, be centered upon His person and work. Chapell’s book will help you to see how to apply a Christ-centered theology to every sermon that you preach and how to find Christ in any passage.

4.) “Preaching” by Calvin Miller.  Dr. Miller just passed away a few weeks ago and I was fortunate to be able to study with him during a doctoral seminar. Miller shows in his book how to use a narrative strategy in preaching. It is one of the best books that I know of to help you learn how to preach in a way that will both honor the text and capture the imagination. Before reading the book, I would recommend you to listen to some of Dr. Miller’s messages online. Once you have heard how he preaches, you will understand the book a little better.  To read see my review of Dr. Miller’s book click here.

5.) “Planning Your Preaching” by Stephen Rummage) Once again, I had the privilege of being in a doctoral seminar with Dr. Rummage and to learn first hand about how he goes about preparing the message. This book will walk you through the steps of putting together a preaching plan for the entire year. For some, this may seem to deny the Holy Spirit but I will assure you that this method will actually lead you to a much deeper experience of the Holy Spirit working in you as you plan and prepare.  I have summarized and adapted some of Dr. Rummage’s thoughts in my post “How to Plan Your Preaching for All of 2013.”

These are the five basic books that I would recommend that every Pastor read about their preaching ministry. read each of them several times and have started to go back each year and read one of them during the month of January and another in the Summer (usually August). During the rest of the year I will usually try to read at least 2-3 other books on sermon preparation. I do this because I want to constantly be growing in this area of my life. God has called me to preach and I want to be the very best preacher that I can possible be. I hope that you will pick up these five basic books and read them.

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The Consequences of Pastoral Sin: Part 1

Bathsheba Goes to King David
Bathsheba Goes to King David (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Over the past several days I have posted a series of articles dealing with the problem of unconfessed sin in the life of the Pastor.  Over the next couple of days I would like to share with you some of the consequences of Pastoral sin.  This is of particular importance because the Bible shows us that sin in the life of a leader can have greater consequences.

 

Sin in the Life of a Leader Can Have Greater Consequences

 

We all know the story from 2 Samuel 11-12 of how King David fell into sin with Bathsheba.  One of the haunting verses in that episode occurs when Nathan the Prophet confronts David with his sin and says, “because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.”⁠1  The phrase that I want to draw special attention to is when God says, “by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.”  I doubt that it ever crossed David’s mind that in committing his sin with Bathsheba that he might embolden God’s enemies and give them occasion to blaspheme the name of the Lord, but that is what his sin ultimately accomplished.

 

As Pastors we have to accept the fact that our lives are on constant display for others to see.  This is a natural part of being a leader and anyone who isn’t ready to accept it should get out of the ministry.  We are God’s representatives before the church and when we fall into sin it comes with enormous consequences.  I have observed at least three major consequences that occur when Pastors fall into sin:

 

1.) When a Pastor is Caught in Sin it Causes the Congregation to Question the Integrity of their Next Pastor

 

Jim and his wife Nell were so excited when Good News Baptist Church extended the call for him to come to be their new Pastor.  Jim was fresh out of seminary and anxious to get started in his first Pastorate.  For the first few months, Jim and Nell were in their proverbial honeymoon period with the church and they could not have asked for a better reception.  The people of Good News were excited by the new energy and enthusiasm that Jim and his wife brought to the church.  But as the months went by Jim started to notice that things were beginning to cool off.  He had come up with a list of several ideas that he wanted to implement to help the church grow but was meeting with some resistance.  Some of the members whom he had counted as close friends were now starting to distance themselves and he started to sense that something was wrong.

 

Jim did not know it when he was called but a Pastor a little more than ten years earlier the church had caught their Pastor in a sexual affair with one of the women in the church.  Rather than deal with it openly the church decided to cover it up and try to deal with it as quietly as possible.  Unfortunately for Jim, this meant that the church had not dealt with the matter Biblically and in the vacuum of silence the people had never come to any closure or resolution.  The church appeared on the surface to be fine but for over a decade just underneath the surface a putrefying abscess had grown and was eating away at the soul of the church. One of it’s chief effects was to create a deep-seated mistrust of Pastors among the congregation.

 

That deep mistrust came to the surface one night during a business meeting when Jim recommended to the church that they start looking into hiring a secretary to help him with some of the administrative tasks.  Good News Baptist Church has never had a paid secretary before and Jim explained how now that the church was growing it was important to try to free up some of his time from administrative duties.  As Jim explained how the time he was spending putting together and printing the weekly newsletter and bulletins could be better used in ministry activities he noticed a change come over the room.  Suddenly, Brother Richard Johnson, one of Jim’s of closest friends and a loyal deacon was on his feet.

 

“Brother Jim,” Richard almost shouted, “I am against this motion and want to urge everyone here to vote against it.”  Shocked by this statement Jim said, “But Richard if we are going to grow we need to be able to free up some of my time, so that I can be dedicated to the work of ministry rather than so many administrative tasks.”  Jim thought that this would bring some clarity to the issue, but in truth the statement only served to enrage Richard even more.  “Pastor,” shouted Richard, “this is a waste of money and you know it! I’ve been a member of this church for twenty years and every Pastor we’ve ever had printed the bulletins and newsletters and I don’t see any reason why you can’t do the same.”  Then Richard dropped the bombshell, “Just because you are too lazy to do your job doesn’t mean that we need to pay someone else to do it for you!”

 

Those words cut through Jim and Nell like a knife.  They considered Richard to be a friend and were shocked that he could make such a hurtful statement.  Jim humbly withdrew his motion and closed the business meeting in prayer.  As he and Nell laid in bed that night praying about what had just happened, Jim began to realize that something deeper was going on.  He didn’t know what it was then, but he knew that something  besides money must be driving his friend to act so rudely.

 

The next day Jim called Richard and they went to have lunch.  Jim began the conversation by saying, “Richard, I’m confused about what happened last night.  Did I do something to offend you or to hurt you?”  As the two men talked Richard eventually opened up and told Jim about the situation with their previous Pastor.  “When Pastor Daniel got caught having an affair it just tore me apart.” Said Richard, “ He and I had been good friends, he was the one who lead me to the Lord and baptized me.  To discover that he was a fraud was one of the hardest things I’ve ever dealt with.”  Richard did not realize it but along with many other members of the church, he had become mistrustful of Pastors in general because of their experience.

 

Come back tomorrow to learn about the second consequence of Pastoral sin.

 

 

 

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1 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. 1995 (2 Sa 12:14). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.