1. Preachers Book group
its not just younger preachers that need to improve, old dogs can benefit from preaching refreshment too. A good way to encourage constructive discussion is to get your preachers to read a book together and discuss it. I would suggest giving yourselves 4-6 weeks to read a book (any shorter and its a rush, any longer and you’ll forget what you have read). Great books to start with are:
Another option is to read a book over a whole term, but meet more regularly to review a couple of chapters together. There’s more ideas for books here. Why not think about getting a bunch of preachers together for a book group either in your church or gathering preachers from across your town.
Pairing up two preachers to work on a Bible text together and then preach the sermon as a team effort. You can pair more experienced preachers with developing preachers. Working in a pair is a great way to force preachers to speak out their sermon before they give it and get feedback from their preaching partner. Also by getting half the time they would normally get to preach it forces experienced preachers out of their comfort zones and forces them to be more concise and collaborative.
3. Create A culture of encouragement
Preaching can be lonely, especially because everyone in the congregation seems to have a different view about what good preaching looks and sounds like. Helping a congregation to think about encouragement is good for everyone, but especially good for the preachers. Chances are that if you tell me I have done something well, I will try and do that again next time. We can reform our preachers with lots and lots of encouragement.
4. Review Recordings
Many churches record their sermons, but very few people actually listen to them. Lets make use of the recordings to review how we got on. Be careful how quickly you do it – give the preachers some breathing space and then take a listen to the mp3 again and provide some constructive feedback.
5. Preparing in community
Preaching systematically through a book of the Bible is really helpful for a congregation so they get to experience the flow and beauty of a whole book of the Bible. We had a good time recently as a team of preachers working through the book of Malachi over 6 weeks. There was very strong feedback from our church that Malachi had been a very good series. Some said it was the best teaching series our church has done so far. There were a number of factors that explained the feedback :
- A relatively short series- people could hold in their memories each of the 6 messages.
- Exploring an OT book many people don’t know very well
- Continuity – because the preachers met together to scope out the book and work on difficult passages and ideas together.
- Tying house group materials strongly with the Bible passages preached on
I think point three is crucial. It meant that we could talk about our struggles and difficulties, share good resources and good ideas.
6. Go on a conference together
Some of us preachers are quite difficult to train and so the direct approach of critiquing each other is difficult. But going to a conference together and learning about preaching gives us another form of input that is less confrontational. There are number of Biblefresh preaching days and conferences coming up – book a bunch of places together.
7. Listen to great preaching together
If a reading group sounds like hard work – why not download some free sermons from itunes and then pledge to listen to them over the week and meet to discuss what struck you about the content, style, structure of the sermons.
8. Check out Online resources
There are some great online videos recorded at the biblefresh preaching day:
9. Share your powerpoints
Scribd is a great way to share your powerpoint presentations from sermons. You’ll get some good ideas from what other people are doing other there in cyberspace.
10. Read blogs and comment
I hope this blog post was helpful to you. I’d love to hear your comments and ideas for helping preaching to develop across the UK.
Summer is a great time to encourage Christians to read – here’s a little list you can pass on to your congregations to help them think of books to pack on their hols.
My Father Maker of the trees - Eric Irivuzumugabe
a powerful and moving story about Christian faith in the middle of the Ruandan Genocide. The first half of this book in particular offers challenging yet inspiring insight into some of the darkest days in living memory and yet God’s grace in the middle of it all.
100 verse Bible -Mark Stibbe
Mark Stibbe’s pocket sized guide to the big story of the Bible. Mark picks 50 verses from the Old Testament and 50 from the New Testament and shows how they weave together into the Bible’s big picture. Split into bite-sized portions easily read in 2 minutes flat. There is a heavy emphasis on the fatherhood of God in this book, which is one of Stibbe’s key themes at the moment.
- not a new book but one I only recently got round to reading. this book is a gem – a really engaging book about the struggles of unanswered prayer. Pete mixes humour, theology and personal stories to great effect. If you haven’t read this book – buy it now. This is the best book I have read recently.
Biblefresh handbook -a really beautiful magazine format book – with lots of pithy articles, easy to read between dips in the pool! Packed with really helpful articles and inspiring ideas this book will help you recover a passion for feeding on God’s word. Royalties from the book all go to support the work of Bible translation in Burkina Faso.
Stretch your thinking
If life is busy, summer’s change of pace can be a good time to go deeper in your Christian reading. Here are some meatier books to get stuck into.
The Blue Parakeet Rethinking How You Read the Bible, Scott McKnight
A very accessible but challenging book about understanding the Bible. Scott McKnight’s chatty style means that many important ideas about hermeneutics and biblical application are handled in an engaging way.
This is a controversial book to put on this list. A lot of people are reading it at the moment and it would be worth reading where ever you stand on the theological spectrum that is evangelicalism. In my opinion McLaren is definitely asking the right questions, around biblical authority, ecclesiology and mission. I don’t agree with all of his answers but for me this is his most expositional book – offering very interesting angles on Romans and Corinthians in particular. I found myself underlining as much in this book for future reference as I did writing questions in the margins. Even when I disagree with McLaren I always feel I have had my thinking stretched and my understanding challenged.
If you have never read or heard Tim Keller before this book is an excellent introduction. Keller demonstrates he has the passion of a preacher and the sensitivity of a pastor combined with the intellect of an academic. This is book about modern day idolatry and will open up an important stream of biblical teaching that is often neglected by the western church. Keller brings a rare combination of biblical and pastoral theology to this book – read it and you will be challenged!
For the preachers:
Currently my favourite book on preaching – it tackles the different Biblical genres and how to make the most of the variety of communications styles in the scriptures for adding breadth and creativity to your own preaching. Not too heavy – lots of practical suggestions.
A small book which models really well how to teach the Bible in such a way that people are skilled in their Bible reading in the process. Briggs lectures in New Testament at Durham University and offers a warm and encouraging book about a deeper engagement with scripture.
Allow a Middle Eastern scholar to guide you through a “kaleidoscopic study of Jesus in the four Gospels” This book will change the way you see Jesus and therefore the way you preach him. I found this book both devotionally inspiring and intellectually stimulating.
The Israelites left Egypt and were given gold jewelry and out of that gold they decorated the tabernacle. The concept of gold plundered from egypt has helped many christians to understand that there is value in borrowing things from our culture. You could argue that the book of proverbs does a similar thing allowing the collected wisdom (some would say general revelation) to contribute to the wise sayings that are part of our scriptures.
This is the one I want to read next. A friend of mine was raving about this book today – spiders have the unfortunate anatomical disadvantage that if you cut off one of their legs (don’t try this at home) they die; whereas starfish grow a severed limb back. Which kind of organisation are you? spiderlike because you crash if something changes or starfishlike because you adapt and survive?
If you read only one management book… this probably is it. Great wisdom from looking at a number of companies that went from being pretty good to pretty awesome and maintained their growth. Suprising findings for everyone who hasn’t listened to Jesus on leadership – servant leaders are the best leaders… But also some wise advice on hearing bad news, humility and how to hire a team.
If you sit in meetings frustrated that things could be done better, faster and more creatively then this is the book for you. It’s an easy read book; easily read on a single plane journey or train ride. If you like the narrative approach this is a great book for you.
David Cormack was a real help to me as I lead some of my first teams. Here’s a book you could probably read in 20 minutes but with some great ideas. Shame it’s out of print – but you can pick one up cheap on Amazon nowadays.
Here’s a fun clip I showed today at a big consulation for Bible agencies seeking to help the church rediscover the book that changed the world:
hope you enjoy it ;o)
I try to read at least one book on preaching a year. I want to continue learning how to stay faithful to the text and continually rethink how best to stay connected to the culture. Here are some of the best books I have read over the years.
If you have never read a book on understanding the different biblical genres then this is a must-read. Fee and Stuart do a masterful job in helping us to ask the right questions of the right parts of the Bible. This book should be on every Bible students shelf. (there is a follow up volume to this book… but if you can only buy one this is the one to get)
My favourite preacher’s favourite book as I was growing up: this book walks you through a method for preparing sermons. Some may find it slightly mechanistic but I challenge you to try it out as it may help you hone skills or add a new perspective to your preparation. You’ll need to supplement this book with others on engaging with culture. Nevertheless its a great book to start with.
You may wonder where it’s going in the beginning but stick with it. Andy Stanley hammers home a powerful message through a creative parable and then some practical wisdom. A quick read but one that will help you to focus your preaching and inspire you to think of ways to make your message stick in people’s minds and hearts. Andy is a great communicator so it’s a great chance to get the inside track on why he does what he does.
This is a gem of a book. It’s only a 100 or so pages but provides a helpful perspective on the key theme of the kingdom of God throughout the sweep of the Bible. Goldsworthy gives some useful handles on a gospel theme that makes both teaching a christian audience and evangelistic preaching from the Old Testament more faithful to the grand sweep of scripture. (It’s been a while since I have read the book and it was very helpful to me then but I am planning to have a re-read to see to what extent Goldsworthy is able to connect a social justice perspective to his kingdom theology). You can’t buy this book on its own anymore so the trilogy is a good place to try.
If there’s only one thing you buy from this list – this is it! This CDROM packs a shelf full of great reference works onto your hard drive which means not only can you save the rainforest you can also save yourself a fortune. Most books you will want to read in print format – but to have some classic reference works available at the click of a mouse is brilliant. The folowing works are a fantastic resource in their own right and well worth buying in print if you are not a fan of computer based resources.
New Bible Dictionary (3rd edition)
New Bible Commentary (3rd edition)
New Dictionary of Theology
Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels
Dictionary of Paul and his Epistles
Old and New Testament background Commentary
What you get is top quality evangelical scholarship in the most user friendly format possible. It costs £100 which is amazing value as most of the books are £35 each in print. Thank you IVP!
This is a very challenging book as Ellsworth argues that we must learn how to preach without any notes at all. I think its worth a read even if you don’t agree. He does have some helpful practical suggestions. Warning: you may never be able to preach or listen to a preacher who uses notes again after reading this book!
John Stott is a legend in his own lifetime: here is some vintage wisdom for a master of his art. Packed with great nuggets of wisdom, some great stories and some clear biblical principles, this is a must read for all of us who want to teach God’s words. (This book appears to be out of print… but you should be able to find some second hand copies)
Many of us find it a lot easier to preach Paul’s letters than any other part of scripture. So what do we do with the difficult Old Testament narratives or the wisdom literature? This book from an Old Testament scholar and preacher challenges us to let the Old Testament speak. Worth a read if like me you need help avoiding all your sermons having the same flavour.
There are so few books on evangelistic preaching but here is a work from a man who has spent his lifetime preaching to non-christians. You won’t agree with everything, you may find his approach slightly individualistic annd pietistic, but I challenge you to find a more passionate and more practical book on evangelistic preaching.
This is my preaching book for this autumn. I have just got it and it looks fascinating. So far I like the line of thought between the connection between leadership and preaching. Some of us are great leaders but not so great preachers, some of us are great preachers but not so good at leading. Here’s someone keen to reconnect the two. I will keep you updated as I haven’t finished the book yet… watch this space.
The Doctor as he was known by his friends and admirers shares his heart with the vision behind his incredibly effective ministry. There are some interesting cultural artefacts here: Lloyd Jones didn’t like the idea of recorded sermons for example. Lloyd Jones also believed preaching to be the highest calling anyone could be called to – which kind of undercuts Paul’s theology of the body. But nevertheless this is an important book to read. Prepare to be challenged!
We need to know not just how to preach, but why we preach. Peter Adam provides a relatively user friendly theology of preaching in this work. It’s worth a read as thinking through the theology of preaching helps us to put safeguards on the practice of preaching. Pure pragmatism is not a great model for the preacher – so even if you disagree with this book thinking theologically about preaching is an important discipline to consider.
This book takes Fee and Stuart’s work on genre to the next level. Griedanus helps us get into the heart of the biblical text and find ways to connect it with our contemporary situation. This is a fascinating book well worth a read.
Thought you might like to see my review of Roger Olson’s intriguing book from the Christianity website.
Publishers have been fearing for a long time that a device that did for books what the ipod did for music is coming. The Amazon Kindle is one attempt to do this. Following the Ipod Model the device is produced by a company that is seeking to provide the content. You can download books from Amazon to use on your new machince. Using i-ink technologies here is a way to take a library with you where ever you go. I am not sure if the kindle has a back light that would allow you to read in the dark – that would be a lifesaver for me as keeping a light on at night to read would keep my wife awake! It also could be great news for the sight impaired. no more large print books – just increase the font size on the Kindle.
The good news for publishers:
1) This is a very ugly piece of kit. It doesn’t have the design dynamics of an Ipod.
2) Books are expensive $9.99 each.
3) Subscription services to blogs and newspapers also cost money.
4) The machine costs $399.
The bad news for publishers
1) The end is nigh! This idea is so good it has to happen sooner or later.
2) The idea of carrying around a library of films, books and music is irresistable.
Here’s a video of the kindle from Amazon. The quality of the screen looks good. It only has a small memory. Liked the idea of free wireless access to Wikipedia.