If you’re new to preaching, overwhelmed and intimidated, this
book is for you. this handbook for preachers is a most read for you as a preacher.
If you’ve been preaching for a while and you’re burned out
and weary, this book is for you.
If you’re looking for fresh ways to think about sermon preparation, this book is for you.
If you’d like some practical ways to enjoy preaching a little
more, this book is for you.
If you’re longing to have great conversations with your board,
elders or congregation about preaching, this book is for you.
If you’ve gone to seminary or Bible college, this book will
revive some of what you learned and hopefully will apply those
lessons in helpful ways.
If you’ve not gone to seminary or Bible college, this book will
give you a great place to start and point out other good books
and resources that will help you.
If you’re not a preacher, this book will be a behind-the-scenes
tour of what goes into every sermon and will help you to listen
better and help your preacher.
There’s a Sunday every week. And for those of us who preach
every week, those Sundays come all too soon. Some weeks the
sermon falls into place beautifully, our delivery is sparkling, the
congregation is attentive and we remember why we love this
work. Other weeks—many weeks—we labor over commentaries,
sketch out ideas, play with words, pray and practice and pray
some more, and then we preach and it goes okay.
And for those of us who preach occasionally, it can be even
harder to find a rhythm. Our sermon preparation time is stuck
between our “day job” and the rest of life. Dwelling on a text,
trying out ideas and practicing the sermon a time or two are
luxuries. We long to preach well on a limited time budget.
Many of us know the creative mess that is preaching. We feel
the frustration when things don’t go the way we want and the
delight when they do. There is much about preaching that is
mysterious. And there is much about it that is incredibly practical. This book focuses on the latter.
This book is a practical guide to improving our preaching.
Among other things, we’ll talk about how to engage the Bible,
how to focus on God, how to preach grace, how to deliver messages well and how to talk with your listeners about your
preaching. Each chapter will give advice and suggestions to try.
You may want to read one chapter, work on that idea for a
while and then move on to another chapter. You may want to
skip ahead to a chapter you are most interested in. You may want
to read through this book with a colleague or a small group. This
book is a tool to help us preach better. How you use and apply
the information here is up to you!
However you choose to engage this book, it’s my hope that it
encourages you in the act of preaching. Whether you preach
sermons or listen to them, whether you teach people how to
preach or have never been in a preaching class, my prayer is that
this book will help you love preaching, love the Word, love the
listeners and most of all love God even more.
As you read, note that all stories are fictional, though many
are based on conversations I’ve had. For stories out of my own
teaching, all identifying details have been changed to protect
the identity of the students. Some of the material in chapter
ten, “Getting Feedback About Your Preaching,” first appeared
in The Banner (“Preachers Are Like Peaches,” December 23,
2012) and in The Calvin Theological Seminary Forum (“Not at
the Door: Thoughts on When and Where to Talk About
Sermons,” Winter 2008).
When it comes to preaching, I too am trying my best. I would
love to say that I hit the mark every week, and that I easily do
everything I suggest in these pages. I don’t. I try. I pray