It is finished! On July 12, 2011 I submitted my complete book manuscript, all 180 pages and 43,000 words, to the publisher. Preaching Essentials: A Practical Guide will be released in May 2012. The book consists of 42 chapters averaging about 1000 words each in length. Every one of these digestible chapters concludes with “exercises” that are designed to help preachers cultivate sound convictions and solid habits for the practice of preaching. The book aims to help new and seasoned preachers discover or recover their God-given “voice” for proclaiming Christ. It is written for students beginning their ministerial journey and for veteran preachers seeking renewal.
Some of you have asked why I wrote the book. The reasons are varied. I wrote the book because:
•I went searching for an up-to-date and comprehensive book for my seminary students, a book that would frame and foster the habits and skills necessary for preaching today. While there are some excellent classic and contemporary books on preaching, I did not find the fresh and full-orbed resource for which I was looking. So, I wrote it…primarily for my students who range in years of experience from 0 to more than 20 years.
•It seems as though many books on preaching are written for teachers of preaching and not for preachers. As a teacher of preaching, I highly value those resources that assist me in my professorial vocation. However, the Church needs to resource those who stand up Sunday after Sunday to proclaim the good news of Christ’s love to hope-hungry people. I wrote the book for preachers.
•There needs to be a readable and practical book that can be comprehended and applied to one’s preaching ministry regardless of their ethnic, educational, and denominational background. I wrote the book to be accessible to all preachers and not just a privileged few.
•Listeners listen differently today than they did even 10 years ago. While some of the homiletic habits of yesterday are timeless, some are not. There are relatively few preaching texts available today that seem to faithfully respond to the realities of the contemporary context in which the Church finds herself. I wrote my book for the sake of 21st Century listeners who are starving for some new homiletic containers to hold the unchanging Gospel water.
•I needed to think through and articulate the many disjointed, loosely connected, and random thoughts that have been floating through my homiletic head and preaching practice for nearly two decades. The book forced me to discern and decide which preaching convictions and habits are most essential for the day in which we find ourselves. I wrote the book for me or, more accurately, to help me teach the next generation of preachers.
So there you have it. I thank God for the opportunity to write the book and pray God uses it to form preachers who are faithful to both the ancient text and the contemporary context.