My Top Three Practical Books on Preaching

Last week I asked for you to send me any questions that you might have that I could answer in future blog posts. One question asked about my top three favorite preaching books. Since I love preaching, and spent 12 years teaching the subject at a seminary, I have amassed quite collection of books on the subject, making my task a lot harder.

So instead of trying to whittle down my top three from my collection, I thought that I would pick my top three in different areas of focus. Today I want to share with you my favorite books in the area of preaching mechanics. These three books excel in the nuts and bolts of preaching by making the process simple and taking out the highly technical language by instead approaching preaching from the practitioner’s point of view.

Here are my top three practical preaching books, in no particular order, along with a link to them in Amazon to make finding them easier.

12 Essential Skills for Great Preaching by Wayne McDill (Amazon)

Funny enough, this book was never assigned for my preaching classes while in seminary, nor was it on any recommended reading lists. As a matter of fact, I had never even heard of this book until I was given it as a gift from my pastor, who is also the author of the last book. This book is gold. It is so helpful that I made it a required reading book in my preaching clinic class and constantly was asked by students why they weren’t required to read this book earlier.

McDill has set up his book as a practical handbook with an essential skill being presented in each chapter along with a worksheet to help the expositor develop the skill they have just learned. Although it is good to read through the whole book, you will find that it will be a book you come back to over and over again as you seek to strengthen or develop in a particular area of weakness in your preaching.

Preaching That Changes Lives by Michael Fabarez (Amazon)

This book excels in teaching how to make a sermon proposition and outline much more applicational and helpful to the congregation. Very often seminary students that have no experience preaching will come out of seminary with skills in biblical languages, exegesis, hermeneutics, theology, and other technical skills (which they need), but struggle with how these fit into a sermon without overloading the congregation with unnecessary and technical details.

Fabarez teaches the reader how to think through the sermon as it relates to the listening audience. This should lead to a sermon outline that is both faithful to the text as well as points to what the text is calling the listener to do. For those who don’t believe that the preacher should make application of the text in their sermons, the forward by John MacArthur might help overcome their resistance.

Preaching with Passion by Alex Montoya (Amazon)

Pastor Alex Montoya taught at The Master’s Seminary for many years in pastoral ministries and taught several courses in Expository Preaching. This book is largely constructed from the framework of his preaching class notes.

Dr. Montoya is pastoral and practical in his book, seeking not only to instruct pastors who may have lost their passion in preaching, but he also aims to set the newer preacher’s heart aflame with practical discussions on what makes a pastor have passion, what kills his passion, and how passion can be developed in a sermon without it being a phony show or emotionally-driven using wonderful illustrations from his many decades of pastoral ministry.

Now its your turn. What have been your most helpful preaching books with this practical focus?

How Preparing Your Sermon is Like Spaghetti Sauce-And I Don’t Mean that it’s Spicy!

If you’re a pastor, you’ve more than likely heard the analogy of your sermon being like spiritual meat or spiritual milk. After all, those are pictures taken from the New Testament. But have you ever considered that your sermon has some similarities with spaghetti sauce?

My wife is part Italian, but she learned how to make spaghetti sauce from my dad-at least the sauce I prefer. I’m not sure where he learned to make it, but it is so good that my mouth is watering as I write this. Anyways, I have noticed something about spaghetti sauce—it is always better the second or third day after it is made (assuming there is any left over).

I think is is most likely because all of the ingredients—the spices, tomatoes, and meat—all have time to meld together in a way that they don’t have time to do when the sauce is fresh. Sure, the sauce is good when it is freshly made, but when it has time to sit for a while, it is so much better.

The same is true for sermons. A sermon that is preached is good when all of the “ingredients” are present—solid exegesis, helpful application, a pinch of humor, a sprinkling of illustration, a solid introduction and a passionate conclusion. But if you let that same sermon sit for a few days in the mind and heart of the preacher, the Holy Spirit will continue to do His work and the Word will become richer and deeper as all of those ingredients continue blending together in harmony, resulting in a richer sermon.

So, the next time you go to preach a message, make sure that you have some time to let it sit and soak in for a while. Don’t become a preaching machine that simply spits out sermon after sermon. Not only will it become less appetizing to those that listen, it is dangerous for your own soul.

For those of you that have listened to your pastor preach for a while, have you noticed that there are days when God really grips him and it affects his delivery and excitement? What do you think made the biggest difference? Share this with us in the comments.

The Ministry Is No Place for Lazy Men

 

“The ministerial work must be carried on diligently and laboriously, as being of such unspeakable consequence to ourselves and others. We are seeking to uphold the world, to save it from the curse of God, to perfect the creation, to attain the ends of Christ’s death, to save ourselves and others from damnation, to overcome the devil, and demolish his kingdom, to set up the kingdom of Christ, and to attain and help others to the kingdom of glory. And are these works to be done with a careless mind, or a lazy hand? O see, then, that this work be done with all your might! Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow; and, as Cassiodorus says: ‘Here the common level of knowledge is not to be the limit; here a true ambition is demonstrated; the more a deep knowledge is sought after, the greater the honor in attaining it.’ But especially be laborious in the practice and exercise of your knowledge. Let Paul’s words ring continually in your ears, ‘Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! ”

—Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor