Practice How You Preach: a book review

I am one called to preach the Word, so I read books that will help me grow as a preacher.  Preaching resources generally fall into one of two categories (other than good or bad). Some preaching books focus on ‘preaching technique.’ Other books major in looking at the message of preaching and helping preachers attend to the text before them. Rare books accomplish both objectives. Daniel Overdorf has written a book which does.

One Year To Better Preaching compiles fifty-two exercises  to help preachers preach as they practice.  You can go through this book in a year by doing one of these exercises as part of your weekly sermon preparation. Alternatively, these exercises focus on eight different areas, so preachers can focus on areas of weakness in their preaching.  Topics covered include:

  1. Prayer and Preaching
  2. Bible Interpretation
  3. Understanding Listeners
  4.  Sermon Construction
  5. Illustration and Application
  6. Word Crafting
  7. The Preaching Event
  8. Sermon Evaluation (from page 11 of the introduction).

Overdorf also suggests focusing on one or two exercises a month or reading this with a group of preachers. However you read (and practice) this book, these exercises will help you grow in your ability to proclaim God’s Word.  Each chapter  has a description of a preaching component, a corresponding practical exercise, testimonials from other preachers, and suggested resources (i.e. articles, books, websites) to help you continue to grow in that area.

Seasoned preachers will have honed their skills in some areas already; however we can all grow in our preaching. I flagged several of these chapters to come back to and work through for the next times I am in the pulpit.  Overdorf has a gift for writing pithy chapters which pack a punch. There is a lot of practical wisdom here!  I enjoyed the chapters which talked about ‘word craft’ in preaching. Overdorf helps us not waste words as we proclaim the Word.  Using language well is something I am passionate about and still need to grow in.  Other chapters remind preachers of the basics (i.e. the importance of prayer, learning the historical and literary context of the passage, preaching from the big idea,  considering your audience, etc). These suggestions are made by just about every preaching book, but by attaching the message to a hands-on practice, Overdorf makes his message stick.

The copy of this book that I read through was in PDF format.  I read books in electronic format and enjoy them.; however I think that if you decide to read through a book of exercises like this, you will want to read through the physical copy (Available from Amazon starting September 16th). I find practical manuals like this are most helpful when you can mark them up, dog-ear pages and underline a lot.  This isn’t a book made to look pretty on your shelf or take up space on your hard drive.  This is a book for preachers to practice what and how they preach.

I give this book five stars and plan to put it into practice.

Thank you to Kregel Academic for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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