Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What I'm Reading - Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism

Keller, Timothy. Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism. New York: Viking, 2015.

Preaching is not a book that gives detailed steps on how to construct a good sermon (though it does include an appendix on "Writing an Expository Message"). What the book does do is tell us what a good preaching should include (e.g., preaching Christ from all of Scripture).
Sound preaching arises out of two loves--love of the Word of God and love of people--and from them both a desire to show people God's glorious grace (p. 14).
To show how a text fits into its whole canonical context, then, is to show how it points to Christ and gospel salvation, the big idea of the whole Bible (p. 48).
It is crucial in our preaching that we do not simply tell people all the ways they must be moral and good without relating such exhortation to the gospel. Nor should we simply tell them over and over that they can be saved only be free grace without showing how salvation changes our lives (p. 51).
[Contextualization] means to resonate with yet defy the culture around you (p. 99).
Let's lay out six sound practices for preaching to and reaching a culture.
Use accessible or well-explained vocabulary.
Employ respected authorities to strengthen your theses.
Demonstrate an understanding of doubts and objections.
Affirm in order to challenge baseline cultural narratives.
Make gospel offers that push on the culture's pressure points.
Call for gospel motivation (p. 103).
Unless the truth is not only clear but also real to listeners, then people will still fail to obey it. Preaching cannot simply be accurate and sound. It must capture the listeners' interest and imaginations; it must be compelling and penetrate to their hearts (p. 157).
If you want to preach to the heart, you need to preach from the heart (p. 166).
From the appendix on how to write an expository message:
1. Discern the goal of the text by itemizing all the things that it says and looking for the main idea that all the other ideas support.
2.Choose a main theme for the sermon that presents the central idea of the text and ministers to your specific listeners.
3. Develop an outline around the sermon theme that fits the passage, with each point raising insights from the text itself, and has movement toward a climax.
4. Flesh out each point with arguments, illustrations, examples, images, other supportive Bible texts, and, most important, practical application (p. 214).
I'd give this book a 4.5 of of 5. I usually enjoy Keller's writing, and I think in this book would benefit any preacher.