The Year's Best Preaching Books and the 2010 Preaching Book of the Year
- Friday, February 05, 2010
Each year seems to bring new treasures to the preacher's bookshelf, and 2009 was no exception. While there was not an abundance of publications in the field of homiletics, there were some quality offerings released in recent months.
Several titles were legitimate contenders for our Preaching Book of the Year recognition this time, but the winner is being cited because of the breadth of quality resources it makes available in the field of preaching.
The New Interpreter's Handbook of Preaching actually was released by Abingdon Press at the end of 2008, but it was released too late to be considered last year. This substantial volume is the work of four editors: Paul Scott Wilson (General Editor), Jana Childers, Cleophus J. Larue and John M. Rottman, plus 135 contributing authors.
One of the things I appreciate about this volume is the diversity of its writers, reflecting a broad range of denominational and theological perspectives. You'll find some of the best-known writers and thinkers on homiletics among the contributors, including Ron Allen, Bryan Chapell, Scott Gibson, Joel Gregory, Sidney Greidanus, Tom Long, Eugene Lowry, Michael Quicke, Robert Smith, Barbara Brown Taylor, Tom Troeger and William Willimon. (Disclosure: I wrote three of the articles, but because my role constitutes far less than 1 percent of this book, I didn't let my participation disrupt recognition of this outstanding collection.)
The collection offers a wide array of articles on preaching-related topics, from biblical studies to literary ones, plus a wonderful collection of articles on rhetoric, sermon preparation and delivery. The New Interpreter's Handbook of Preaching is an encyclopedia of preaching within the covers of one book, and it warrants a place on any preacher's bookshelf.
One other outstanding book on preaching was released too late to be reviewed in recent issues; a full review will be offered in the next issue of Preaching, but we wanted to make sure it was recognized in this survey of the year's best.
Faithful Preaching (B&H) is the work of Tony Merida, pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Miss., and assistant professor of preaching at New Orleans Baptist Seminary. Merida writes with the perspective of one who prepares effective sermons week by week for a congregation, but with the background of one who prepares young ministers to learn to become preachers themselves.
The book primarily is targeted toward the newest generation of church leaders, but will be read with enjoyment and benefit by preachers at every stage of ministry. He introduces the reader to the rich tradition of preaching, including its biblical and theological foundations, then offers practical counsel for developing expository sermons that will touch lives.
In the past several issues, we've reviewed most of the other major books released in the area of preaching. Here are some excerpts from those reviews, reminders of the outstanding books which have been published in preaching in recent months:
If the Word of God is to come alive in the pulpit, it will necessitate the death of the preacher, according to Steven W. Smith in his new book Dying to Preach (Kregel).
As Smith asserts, "The inestimable challenge of preaching is at once to grow in the development of the task while simultaneously giving it away—that is, being willing to die for people so they might live. This means a preacher will care deeply about preaching while at the same time surrendering his communication to God…The death to self that is demanded of the preacher works life in his people."
This is a powerful book that deserves to be read by any pastor as a reminder that "the greatest threat to the pulpit is the giftedness of its preachers." Smith does a valuable service in reminding us that only as we die can our preaching truly live.
In his new book Preaching from Memory to Hope (Westminster John Knox), Tom Long says, "What happens is that trusted structures and strategies of the pulpit suddenly seem to lose their potency; and worried preachers, their confidence shaken, begin to scramble for the next new thing."
Long is one of the most gifted homileticians in the mainline church today, and his insights will be read with interest by anyone serious about preaching. Among the topics Long addresses are the swing away from narrative preaching (a theme that has dominated preaching texts for the past two decades), dealing with the new spirituality (which he pegs—quite accurately, I think—as to a large extent just the old Gnosticism) and what he considers the neglected theme in preaching, eschatology.
Bryan Chapell's superb book Christ-Centered Preaching (Baker) has become one of the standard texts on preaching in evangelical seminaries. Church leaders now can welcome a parallel volume in Chapell's newest contribution in his book Christ-Centered Worship (Baker). In addition to exploring the church's various liturgical streams, Chapell also discusses the biblical patterns and emphases that should undergird and inform our worship practices.
In Christ-Centered Worship, Chapell has pressed the church to re-think its approach to worship and reminded us that worship is not about us and our preferences but about Christ and His glory.
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