Recently, God gave me grace to preach my 500th sermon as the pastor of my church. In light of this, I thought I might briefly point you to seven books on preaching I heartily recommend. Listed in order of ascending commendation, here’s the countdown along with a brief word about each:
Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God’s Word Today by David Helm – This unique little book explains what expository preaching is and lays out a simple method for moving from text to contemporary application. In my opinion, it accomplishes its goals admirably. It’s clear, theologically-informed, practical, engagingly written, Christ-centered, and does all that in 128 small pages. It’s a great encouragement to seasoned preachers to persevere for the long haul, and would be ideal for working through with anyone having a difficult time understanding what sermons are supposed to be and do (e.g., elders, Bible study leaders, pulpit committee, young men sensing a call to pastoral ministry, etc.).
Christ-Centered Preaching by Brian Chapel – This was the first book I read on how to preach Christ from every passage of Scripture and still one of my favorites. It’s got its idiosyncrasies, but they’re relatively minor and on the whole, the book offers a wonderful hermeneutical model for legitimately transitioning from any text to the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
Preaching with Purpose by Jay Adams – Though Adams is better known as the grandfather of biblical counseling, he was also a mighty preacher, especially skilled in the area of application. This little gem has been overlooked for too long. It offers a model for how to do application that may be different from what you’ve always done, but is probably better. His approach enables you to preach any passage with immediate application to the hearers. In some ways, it’s paradigm-shifting.
The Archer and the Arrow by Phillip Jensen and Paul Grimmond – As a preacher I try to read on preaching regularly and this is perhaps the best book I’ve read on the subject in the last five years. It’s filled with Jensen’s characteristic wit, wisdom, creativity and practicality. The beginning section on employing biblical theology in preaching is the very best I’ve ever read. It’s pitched as a companion to the outstanding book on local church ministry The Trellis and the Vine.
Preaching with Simplicity by J.C. Ryle – Sometimes the strongest medicines come in the smallest packages. This powerful little booklet (22 pages) ought to be required reading for anybody who ever gets within 10 feet of a pulpit. It explodes with Ryle’s trademark passion, conviction, and sanctified common sense. By simplicity Ryle means clarity in communication, not shallowness in depth. Not only is clarity essential to getting your points across, it is also key to heart-searching, conscience-piercing, life-transforming, powerful preaching (as modeled by Ryle). (Buy it here for $2.40.)
Rediscovering Expositional Preaching edited by John MacArthur – Some books excel in teaching how to do exegesis, others excel in teaching homiletics, but rarely do you encounter a book that does both. This is one of those rare both/and volumes. It’s my very favorite book for laying out a process for starting with a bare text, doing responsible exegesis, and then turning it into a quality expositional sermon. If I were to recommend only one comprehensive book for learning how to preach, it would probably be this one.
Preaching and Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones – This is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read in any genre. Also one of the most convicting. MLJ was a veritable Chuck Norris in the pulpit and his views of preaching and the ministry shine through in a no-holds-barred fashion in this volume. While definitely not a how-to book, it will provide you with abundant inspiration to preach like a dying man to dying men. For my fuller review, go here.
I’m interested in getting your input. What are some of your favorite books on preaching and why? Tell us about your recommendations and we’ll have a conversation.
Timothy Raymond is an editor for Credo Magazine and has been the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Indiana since April 2006. He received his MDiv from the Baptist Bible Seminary of Pennsylvania in 2004 and has pursued further education through the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation.