Archives For Resources for Preaching

Books, articles, video, and audio resources.

Have you ever been deeply disappointed with your own preaching, felt like a failure, and considered leaving the ministry?

Bryan Chapell did, and in a recent Faithlife Today interview, Chapell relates how his sense of failure as a preacher led him to write his book Christ-Centered Preaching.

I was first introduced to Christ-Centered Preaching in a seminary class called Expository Sermon Preparation. To be honest my initial impression was that the book was too formulaic. I didn’t care for the recommended (or required, as some of us thought) indicative-imperative structure of the homiletical idea (“Because this is true, you must respond in this way.”), and I was not convinced that the Fallen Condition Focus (FCF) was a legitimate or necessary concept.

Fast forward almost 20 years, and I now have a different perspective on the book. I have come through experience (both in preaching and in teaching preaching) to buy in to many of the concepts presented in Chapell’s book. Each year I have my advanced homiletics class read chapters 10 and 11 on the theology of Christ-centered messages. We have some great in-class discussions, and I love seeing the lights come on for my students as they realize that preaching Christ doesn’t mean forcing Jesus into every text.

Here’s how Chapell put it, and in my opinion, this has to be one of the most important sentences in the entire book:

Christ-centered preaching rightly understood does not seek to discover where Christ is mentioned in every text but to disclose where every text stands in relation to Christ. (emphasis mine)

Others have since written on this subject and provided valuable and additional light on what it means to preach Christ, but let me encourage you to read those two chapters if you haven’t (or haven’t in a while). And why don’t you take five minutes to listen to Chapell share the story behind one of the most-used books on preaching. You will be reminded that the heroes of the Bible are often a mess, but that God in his grace still uses them. And he can use you and me too.

Top 5 Posts of 2013

December 31, 2013

I began this blog back in April. At the time I had no idea where it would go, or, frankly, if it would go anywhere. But I’m thankful for a good friend who encouraged me to do it and who got me up and running.

I often think of what E. M. Forster wrote: “How do I know what I think until I see what I say.” Blogging has forced me to “see what I say.” And that has been invaluable for clarifying “what I think” in many areas. The significance of preaching demands that we devote careful thought to what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

I have also enjoyed connecting with some old friends and new friends along the way and getting your helpful input and feedback.

So, to anyone who has visited my blog, read it on a regular basis, and/or taken the time to comment and share, I say “thank you.” I trust the content has been helpful to you in some small way.

Whenever you publish a post there’s no telling what may happen to it. It may be completely ignored, or it may end up striking a chord. Here are 5 posts from the past year that evidently struck a chord with readers. Enjoy, and have a blessed new year!

1. Mohler on Why Expository Preaching Is Such a Bad Idea

Expository preaching is so bad that only a sovereign God would come up with it to show His glory in a fallen world by using it to call sinners to Christ and to mold believers into conformity with the image of His Son.

2. Just Get the Point of the Passage–That’s All We’re Asking Out of You

John MacArthur shares the greatest lesson he ever learned about preaching.

3. Frag-men-tar-y Ex-po-si-tion

I applaud those who reverence God’s Word enough to take it seriously in their exposition. I appreciate those who want their preaching to be thoroughly biblical. But fragmentary exposition is not the best approach. Fragmentary exposition leads to a fragmentary understanding on the part of the listener. Instead, approach the details of the passage as a means to arriving at the main idea of the passage. Then preach the main idea as the main idea and keep the supporting cast in the background.

4. Impression or Information: What Is Your Objective in Preaching?

When you preach do you preach primarily to impart information to your listeners or to make an impact and impression on your listeners?

5. My Philosophy of Preaching

Our philosophy of preaching informs and directs our practice of preaching. So what core beliefs govern what you do when you preach God’s Word?

Greidanus and Goldsworthy Coming to Logos!

Really excited to see this collection in the works. Thank you, Eerdmans and Logos!

Am I Called to Preach?

August 29, 2013

“Am I called to preach?”

On occasion a young man will come into my office asking that very question or one similar to it, like, “How would I know if God is calling me to preach?”

If you are wrestling with this question or know of someone who is, let me recommend a resource to help.

In 2008 my former pastor held a workshop designed to help young men answer the question “Am I called to preach?” In addition to 3 audio sessions and handouts in which the topic is handled biblically and pastorally, there is a helpful bibliography on the call to preach along with Matthew Henry’s Self-Examination for Ordination.

Question: What other resources have you found helpful in answering the question “Am I called to preach?”


In light of this recent example of gut-wrenching human tragedy, I found an illustration from Bryan Chapell helpful for visualizing what it looks like to view human tragedy through the lens of the cross.

From a homiletical standpoint notice how Chapell states the principle, illustrates the principle, and then concludes with a restatement of the principle. (By the way, if you haven’t read Chapell’s book on illustrations–Using Illustrations to Preach with Power–you need to get it and read it. It’s a potential game-changer for those who think lightly of sermon illustrations, like I used to.)

The Principle

At the cross we learn that God is good and can be trusted, even when everything seems wrong to human sight.

The Illustration

As I was pastoring the rural church attended by farmers and coal miners—people accustomed to hard lives—I heard a story that taught me more about the nature and foundation of true faith than I had gained in much of my seminary education. The story tells of a miner who, though a stalwart believer, was injured at a young age. He became an invalid. Over the years he watched through a window near his bed as life passed him by. He watched fellow workers marry, raise families, and have grandchildren. He watched the company he had served thrive without attempting to make adequate provision for his loss. He watched as his body withered, his house crumbled, and hope for better things in this life died.

Then, one day when the bedridden miner was quite old, a younger man came to visit him. “I hear that you believe in God and claim that he loves you,” said the young man. “How can you believe such things after all that has happened to you?”

The old man hesitated and then smiled. He said, “Yes, there are days of doubt. Sometimes Satan comes calling on me in this fallen-down old house of mine. He sits right there by my bed, where you are sitting now. He points out my window to the men I once worked with whose bodies are still strong, and Satan asks, ‘Does Jesus love you?’ Then, Satan makes me look at my tattered room as he points to the fine homes of my friends and asks again, ‘Does Jesus love you?’ Finally, Satan points to the grandchild of a friend of mine—a man who has everything I do not—and Satan waits for the tear in my eye before he whispers in my ear, ‘Does Jesus really love you?’ ”

Startled by the candor of the old man’s responses, the younger man asked, “And what do you say when Satan speaks to you that way?”

Said the old miner, “I take Satan by the hand, and I lead him to a hill far away called Calvary. There I point to the nail-pierced hands, the thorn-torn brow, and the spear-pierced side. Then I say to Satan, ‘Doesn’t Jesus love me!’ ”

 The Conclusion

The cross of Christ is the warrant for confidence in God’s promises of ultimate good, despite great heartache.

This illustration comes from the book The Hardest Sermons You’ll Ever Preach (14-15), which is an invaluable resource for preachers tasked with the responsibility of ministering in response to some of life’s most tragic situations.

Here are a few preaching-related articles and resources that surfaced this past week.

The Biggest Mistakes Young Preachers Make – Matt Smethurst

Tullian Tchividjian, Voddie Baucham, and Russell Moore discuss common blunders new preachers make.

5 Things You Should Never Say or Do at a Funeral – Josh Pond

What we say is powerful in such a vulnerable situation, and we should tread carefully. So here are five things we must avoid when preaching a funeral.

Sermon Prep for the Bivocational Pastor – Philip Nation

Over the last two weeks, I have offered up my thoughts about serving bivocationally in ministry through my Reflections and Navigating posts. After both posts, I have had friends ask specifically about how I prepare for sermons with a full-time job. . . .

So with the hope of bringing some sense to it all, I’ll give to you some of the method to my particular madness.

What Makes for a Good Illustration? – Aaron Armstrong

What makes for a good illustration? Keeping it relatable. If our hearers get it, they’re coming along with us. But if they aren’t connecting, we risk talking to ourselves.

Don’t Settle for Your Mediocre Preaching – Paul Tripp

We cannot blame our job descriptions or busyness. We cannot point the finger at the unexpected things that show up on the schedule of every pastor. We cannot blame the demands of family. We have to humbly confess our preaching is mediocre, not rising to the standard to which we have been called. The problem is us.

Sermons on Several Occasions, First Series – John Wesley (via LibriVox)

“The following Sermons contain the substance of what I have been preaching for between eight and nine years last past. Every serious man who peruses these, will therefore see, in the clearest manner, what these doctrines are which I embrace and teach as the essentials of true religion.” This first series contains sermons concerning the way to heaven. (Summary by TriciaG)

These links and summaries are offered for your consideration and evaluation because they relate to preaching. Their inclusion does not necessarily imply my whole-hearted commendation. I can’t even recommend everything I write. As always, read with discernment.

Here are some preaching-related resources from this past week all nicely packaged up on one page.

Let the Tone of Your Sermon Match the Tone of Your Text – Trevin Wax

Giving these various moods and tempos, styles and emotions will bring to your people a rich sense of the varied nature of how God speaks through human agency. Let the Bible become as variegated to you as you would like it to be to them. God does after all speak in various ways his wonders to perform.

The Fourth Ingredient – Peter Mead

When I evaluate preaching, I always include a fourth necessary ingredient: Interpersonally Engaging.  Good preaching needs to be biblical, clear, relevant and engaging.

Download My Fee Sermon Illustration Ebook “Show Then Tell” Today – Erik McKiddie

Today I’m pleased to give away a free ebook, Show Then Tell: 52 Illustrations for Believing and Living the Gospel. It contains original, hand-crafted illustrations that will point the people you teach to Jesus. I hope you find it helpful.

Don’t Pack Too Much in Your Sermons – Erik Raymond

As preachers or Bible study leaders, this is good and important reminder: We can’t pack everything into every message. Let me give you a few reasons why and then how we can pack it more effectively.

Saving Eutychus – The Briefing

Our slightly tongue in cheek trailer for the new book “Saving Eutychus: How to preach God’s word and keep people awake”…

5 Quick Reasons to Manuscript Your Sermons – Erik McKiddie

I’m not saying that from now on I’ll only use a manuscript when I teach or preach. I picture myself still using an outline in more casual environments: Sunday school, retreats, Bible studies, etc. But for Sunday mornings, for the foreseeable future, I’ll be a manuscript guy. What about you?

Focusing Your Sermon – B21

Deciding what to include and leave out from sermon study is one of the most difficult tasks for young pastors in crafting sermons. Often sermons become a regurgitation of the cool things they learned in their study, instead of a focused exhortation.

The Puritan Principle: The Secret to Preaching with Power – Nicholas McDonald

This is the secret of meditation. Meditation isn’t just studying the verse you’re about to preach, and it’s not simply praying it. It’s something in between.

Who Is the Hero of Your Sermon? – Greg Breazeale

Every sermon has a hero. Every message points to some kind of rescue from financial, relational, or ethical plight. Few would argue that someone other than Christ should be this rescuer – this hero – in every sermon. But many of us think we are pointing people toward Christ, when in fact we are not. We may talk about Jesus a lot in our sermons, but ultimately we point our people toward something or someone else.

The Power of Pause in a Sermon – ProPreacher

One of the biggest mistakes that preachers make is neglecting the power of the pause.

Shall We Preach the Gospel or Morality? Part Two: Natural Virtue and Common Grace – Kevin Bauder

Part of Christian duty involves both the positive and negative proclamation of moral standards. Positively, Christians are responsible to explain how God has made the world to work, and they have a duty to point to the natural, this-worldly consequences of ignoring God’s moral law. Negatively, Christians are responsible to rebuke the works of darkness, shining the light of truth on those works so that people can see them for what they are. Preaching morality never takes the place of preaching the gospel, but it remains a non-negotiable obligation for Christians.


These links and summaries are offered for your consideration and evaluation because they relate to preaching. Their inclusion does not necessarily imply my whole-hearted commendation. I can’t even recommend everything I write. As always, read with discernment.


Here are some preaching-related resources that surfaced this past week.

The Biblical Preaching of John Calvin – Steven Lawson

We must have Calvins again. And by God’s grace, we shall see them raised up again by the Head of the church. May He give us legions of biblical expositors, as in the days of the Reformation, ready to unleash the unvarnished truth of Scripture. May we see the power of the Word preached again in this midnight hour of history. Post tenebras lux⎯after darkness, light.

How Long Does a Pastor Preach? – Tom Rainer

Most pastors preach sermons lasting in a relatively small range: from 26 minutes to 45 minutes.

Excellent, Edifying (and Even Entertaining) Sermon on a Controversial Topic – Mark Ward

One of the newest reasons I’ve come across—and one of the most powerful—for hewing to an expository preaching method is  the “balance” in emphasis (if you can call it that) between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.

Preaching About the Bible Vs. Preaching the Bible – Nicholas McDonald

True preaching preaches to the heart. It exegetes the text, and it explodes into the real, grub and dirt lives of the listening dead. True preaching is a hard mirror, an unforgiving thread leading me to my knees at the cross. Real exegesis exegetes not only the text, but the hearts receiving it. It allows people to feel its heat and light, because it cuts into souls and exposes them.

Preaching Flows from Deep Within – Ray Ortland

True preaching is more than preaching truth.  It is also deeply personal.  It rises from within a man.  He is fully aware and engaged and intelligent.  But he is forced to speak, compelled not by the expectations of others around but by the power of God within.

A Sound Church: Expositional Preaching – Michael Riley

A commitment to accurate exposition of Scripture should be among our very highest priorities when we evaluate a church.

Christ-Centered Preaching and Teaching Discussion: Audio – Matt Capps

One of the highlights of the 2013 SBC was The Gospel Project‘s panel discussion on Christ-centered teaching and preaching.

Christ-Centered Hermeneutics, Part 1 – Daniel Block

Block discusses the “potential benefits and pitfalls of Christ-centered preaching.”

Christ-Centered Hermeneutics, Part 2 – Daniel Block

To me, Christo-centrism is primarily a communication issue rather than a hermeneutical issue. Authoritative interpretation will focus first on the message of any given text, and once this is established reflect on its place and significance in the broader revelatory scheme that climaxes in Jesus. Not all First Testament texts point to Christ, but all texts reveal something about God or humanity or the universe that is necessary ultimately to understand the work of Christ.

Why Should We Preach Christ in Every Sermon? – Fred Malone

“Why we should preach Christ in every sermon?”

There are two thoughts I would offer in answer to this: (1) Biblical Hermeneutics, and (2) Biblical Example.

Sermon Writer’s Block: 13 Ways to Overcome a Lack of Inspiration – ProPreacher

When in Sermon Preparation Should a Preacher Consult Commentaries? – Brian Croft

Pastors, we need to be grateful for the abundance of commentaries and theological writings about most any passage we would set to preach to our congregations.  Allow them to confirm, even correct our own thoughts we have formulated in our own study, but guard from relying too much on them.

Brothers, We Are Not Movie-Hawkers . . . – Denny Burk

Your preaching agenda ought to be set for you by the text of scripture, not by a Hollywood marketing firm trying to use you for profits.

Reading the Text to Preach the Text – BibleX

One of the basic, oft repeated, and most common mistakes made in preaching is the neglect of careful reading of Scripture. The ‘preacher’ who is not immersed in the Word of God usually reads ideas into Scripture rather than being fed with ideas from Scripture. (Al Fasol)

These links and summaries are offered for your consideration and evaluation because they relate to preaching. Their inclusion does not necessarily imply my whole-hearted commendation. I can’t even recommend everything I write. As always, read with discernment.

Enjoy these preaching-related links and summaries from the past week. Especially note Peter Mead’s helpful 3-part series on explanation in preaching.

9 Teaching Methods of Jesus – ProPreacher

If you want to be an effective preacher or teacher, model your methods after Jesus.

Preach the Word, tell stories, be shocking, craft sticky statements, use object lessons, repeat yourself, create experiences, and practice what you preach.

Preaching Distractions – Rainer on Leadership #008

Jonathan and I explore some personal stories and some reader submissions from a recent post on preaching distractions. We talk about plumbing issues, flying shoes, ripped pants, overzealous janitors, and more. We also cover how to recover when something like this happens, and how best to prevent them from happening. While the ministry of a pastor should be taken very seriously, we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously.

Listener Levels – Peter Mead

Preaching involves explanation.  That is, when we preach, we need to offer some explanation of the passage’s meaning.  But it needs to be more than that.  We need to offer explanation of the passage’s meaning at a level appropriate to those who are listening.

Listener Levels: 7 Suggestions to Improve Accessibility – Peter Mead

How can we improve at offering explanation that will help people at the lower range of understanding?  Perhaps your preaching goes over peoples’ heads, but you want to explain the Bible in a way that is accessible to younger Christians or less biblically literate folk?

Listener Levels: 7 Ways to Add Steak to the Diet – Peter Mead

What if your biblical explanation is typically at a level lower than many of your listeners?  What are some suggestions for adding steak to the diet of listeners that are needing it?

What Did It Look and Sound Like in Jonathan Edward’s New England? – Justin Taylor

The center of attention in the Puritan meeting house was the pulpit, or “the desk,” as New Englanders commonly dubbed it for its  importance as the locus of biblical scholarship in their midst. . . . from start to finish Puritan worship services centered on the Scriptures.

Bold, Daring Audacity Vs The Pretty Boy Preachers – Colin Adams

Many preachers just want to be ‘nice.’ They cherish being winsome above being earnest. They desire popularity above faithfulness. They tremble more at the thought of offending their congregation, than they fear the thought of offending their God.

These links and summaries are offered for your consideration and evaluation because they relate to preaching. Their inclusion does not necessarily imply my whole-hearted commendation. I can’t even recommend everything I write. As always, read with discernment.

The web was alive with preaching resources this past week, especially with discussions related to Christ-centered preaching. Enjoy!

Christ-Centered Preaching (Part 1): The “Dilemma” of Christ-Centered Expository Preaching – Tony Merida

Essentially, expository preaching attempts to explain and apply the biblical text in its context. This poses an interesting dilemma for Christian preachers. How is one to preach Christ where he may not seem to be present in the text?

Christ-Centered Preaching (Part 2): The Centrality of Christ in the Bible and in Expository Preaching – Tony Merida

Understanding the nature of Scripture seems to be an essential requirement for preachers who wish to expound what the biblical text says. Many homileticians assert that the primary emphasis of the Bible is upon redemptive history, which culminates in Christ’s person and work. If the Bible focuses upon Christ’s redemptive work, then this should have practical implications for expositors who wish to proclaim the Bible accurately.

Christ-Centered Preaching (Part 3): Practical Application in Christ-Centered Expository Preaching – Tony Merida

Merida’s post briefly addresses “how the preacher should structure an expository sermon that integrates biblical theology thereby emphasizing God’s redeeming work in Christ.”

Merida also gives 3 “benefits of integrating biblical theology with expository preaching.”

Jason Allen and the Gospel Project – Eric Hankins

While Christ should always be exalted when preaching, authorial intent alone is the exegetical launch pad for any sermon (“Be Expositional First and Christological Second,” 145). Allusions to Christ may certainly be made when Christology isn’t explicit, but allusions are what they are and no more (144). Care must be given not to read any meaning into a text that is not rooted in the author’s intent.

A Defense of Christ-Centered Exposition: A Friendly Response to Eric Hankins (Part 2) – Jonathan Akin

The Christocentric approach starts with the historical-grammatical method but it doesn’t stop there. Sadly, many evangelical interpreters are held captive to Enlightenment reductionism that would elevate modern hermeneutical methods above the methods of Jesus and the Apostles.  We must be diligent to escape this captivity.

A Defense of Christ-Centered Exposition: A Friend Response to Eric Hankins (Part 3) – Jonathan Akin

Christ-centered exposition bases the imperatives to live faithfully in the gospel indicatives of what Christ has already done for us.

I linked to part 1 of Akin’s series last week. But in case you missed it here’s the link.

7 Ways of Preaching Christ from the Old Testament – Trevin Wax

In the initial chapter of his book,Preaching Christ from Genesis,Sidney Griedanus lays out seven ways that a preacher can legitimately preach Christ from the Old Testament. I’ve adapted the examples for each category in order to keep the focus on how there are multiple ways to preach Christ from an Old Testament account (such as Noah).

Should We Preach Christ in Every Sermon? – Fred Malone

Preachers in the New Testament did not preach in the manner that has become customary to us. They did not take a text out of the New Testament, analyze it, expound it, and then apply it. What did they preach? They preached the great message that had been committed to them, the great body of gospel truth, the whole doctrine of salvation revealed from Genesis to Revelation. My argument is that this is what we should always be doing, though we do it through individual expositions of particular texts. That is the relationship between theology and preaching.

Spurgeon — as Guest Preacher? – Dan Phillips

[One author] knew that pastors occasionally need study breaks, even beyond vacation times. His suggestion was to pick from the rich array of nearly 2000 years of Christian sermons, and have a “guest preacher” fill in on occasion. Find one of the great sermons, or one of the great preachers, and let him step in.

 Deadly, Dull, and Boring – Phil Campbell

We should be absolutely consumed by trying to design sermons that are simple without being simplistic, that are understandable and clear. We should try very hard to avoid unnecessary complexity.

Clarity comes from what you leave out. Clarity comes from focus. Usually, complexity comes from ‘over-inclusion’.

Everything I Know About Pastoral Ministry I Learned Riding with Pastors – Thabiti Anyabwile

“Remember: You preach for an audience of One.”

That was Peter Rochelle’s remark to me before I preached my initial sermon. We certainly may preach to audiences of more than one, but we only ever preach for an audience of One. With that remark he helped me settle my highest loyalty as a preacher and drove a stake deep into the heart of this preacher’s fear of man. I’m forever grateful for that conversation and the path Peter set me on. He was my first model of exposition and pastoral care.

How to Get Over the Fear of Public Speaking – Michael Hyatt

Even after I had been speaking publicly for years, I still struggled with fear. Even when I was well-prepared. This happened nearly every time I spoke.

The problem, as I eventually discovered, was I was focused on myself. . . .

Next time you have the opportunity to speak publicly and find yourself getting nervous, try refocusing on the needs of your audience. Give them the gifts they need to succeed. It will make a difference. For you and for them.

PM 501 Fundamentals of Expository Preaching Lectures – John MacArthur and Steven Lawson

Sanctified Sin – Peter Mead

Bible teaching is not really helping if our goal is to facilitate independent functioning on the part of those who hear.  If they are being equipped and encouraged to live independently in their newfound personal holiness, then what is the teacher achieving?  Is this really helping people?  Ever since Genesis 3 we have been saturated in the brine of independence.  Some manifest it by overt rebellion, but others of us are prone to manifest our sinful bent through self-righteousness and personal spiritual “success.”  The latter looks so much better, but it can still be a fleshly attempt to push God away and function without direct dependence on Him.

Paul’s Preaching Genius – Peter Mead

Preaching that promotes christian living, but doesn’t offer Christ, is not helpful at all.  If we simply instruct people how to behave and act like christians, then they will co-opt and corrupt that instruction to serve their incurvedness.

Why God Still Works Through Poor Preaching – Peter Mead

God works despite us and our preaching (and we need to be thankful for that!)

6 Things We Need to Learn from Youth About Preaching – Cameron Cole

If we’re serious about passing the gospel to the next generation, what do we need to learn from youth about how we preach? Here are six suggestions youth would offer to their pastors.

The Nancy Drew Principle: How to Help People Follow Your Logic – Nicholas McDonald

Here’s the principle: “Help people approach your sermon like a detective.” Let people know where they’re going to place the information you’re about to tell them. Demonstrate in the first five minutes that you’re going to solve a mystery (or a few mysteries) by asking good questions.

Entertaining Pulpits and the Legacy of “Tethered Preaching” – David Mathis

Initially, it may be tough to tell the difference. A gifted Bible-expositor and an entertainment-oriented preacher, with a penchant for garnishing his ideas with some Bible, may not demonstrate much disparity at first.

But give it some time. And check the congregation over the long haul. It will make a world of difference.

Get Thousands of the Best Sermon Illustrations for Free – ProPreacher

Personal stories will make your preaching more relatable, memorable, authentic and interesting. The payoff for having hundreds or even thousands of these stories at your disposal is huge.

These links and summaries are offered for your consideration and evaluation because they relate to preaching. Their inclusion does not necessarily imply my whole-hearted commendation. I can’t even recommend everything I write. As always, read with discernment.