a preaching starting five

I am often asked about books on preaching. My response heads in two directions. The first response is with newcomers to preaching in mind. Where do you start and in what order should you read the books? Then the other response is directed at experienced preachers. Maybe they need to be refreshed, or challenged - or just reminded of some of the convictions they've lost along the way.

This post is interested in that first group. And as I am about to join an NBA Fantasy League (with some of my kids - well, you know how it is, it is a way of staying in touch with them!), a starting-five seems appropriate. I've done this before - but it needs to be done again because there are two new books that have crept into the list in recent months.

1. Greg Scharf, Prepared to Preach (Mentor, 2005). It is hard to go past this one. A short, simple mix of convictions and techniques. It remains the place to begin.

2. Then I'd go back in time... Preaching has such a long ancestry and newcomers need to feel the passion of those who have gone before. It is hard to beat James Stewart, Heralds of God (Hodder & Stoughton, 1946). Read it aloud and feel the warmth and conviction in his Scottish voice.

3. Here is one of the newcomers. I finished reading it on the plane back from Cambodia this morning. Mark Dever & Greg Gilbert, Preach [Theology Meets Practice] (B&H Publishing, 2012). Part One is theology with a focus on Word and words. A helpful section on expositional preaching in the Bible (38-44). The highlight of the book is in Part Two - practice - with 'Delivering the Sermon' (119-130) full of wise, contemporary reflection. Part Three - sermon transcripts - is a nice touch. Each author offers a manuscript and they chat to each other about it as the reader travels through the sermons. [SPOILER ALERT: this is one of those books that sees preaching being for men only. Ugh. It is such a shame, as there is so much good stuff in it].

4. In the pursuit of balance in the starting five, I'd opt for David Day, A Preaching Workbook (SPCK, 2005). It gathers together an array of practical skills and tips for effective communication.

5. Then, another newcomer - this time from Australia: Gary Millar & Phil Campbell, Saving Eutychus (IVP, 2013). It is blessed with a great title - and then there is the subtitle, 'how to preach God's word and keep people awake'. That combo alone should sell a few copies. Mature preachers writing simply and practically from out of a strong theological framework. That's gotta be good for you. Not unlike #3 in its structure and vision, I started reading it before we left New Zealand, but it ended up in our shipment (which has still not arrived). So I can't say much more than that quite yet...

nice chatting



Heather said…
Hi Paul,

Not sure if you have a robot that tells you when comments are left on ancient posts, so this is just to mention that I left one on your 'martyrdom' post from September 2012.


--Heather :-)
Jamie Bay said…
Hi Paul.
Next Sunday I begin as Lead Pastor of the church in which I have been the Associate Pastor for the past 4 years. I am planning to work through the five books on preaching suggested here, but wanted to check in first to see if any of the books that have come out since this post was written would have moved into your top 5 ahead of these?
I'm especially thinking of Lamb, Plantinga, Keller etc.

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