I try to read at least one book on preaching each year. So far, I’ve been in the ministry for nearly 20 years and I’ve read at least 25 books. It looks like I’m keeping on track. Some of the books have been mediocre, but most of them have had something worthwhile. Some have really stood out in my mind and continue to. If asked for my top five must-reads about preaching, this would be my list and in this order:
- Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, Bryan Chapell
A fellow student introduced me to Bryan Chapell’s book while I was in seminary. I learned so much from this book about how to preach Christ. I especially appreciate Chapell’s notion of the Fallen Condition Focus of each passage – often when I struggle to formulate a theme for my sermon, I go back to this notion and everything falls into place. There is a second edition available, but I’ve only read the first. I’m not sure about the differences between the two.
- Expository Preaching With Word Pictures: With Illustrations from the Sermons of Thomas Watson, Jack Hughes
I’ve always loved Thomas Watson. He’s the most readable of the Puritans. He has a style that’s stood the test of time. Hughes demonstrates why and also how his approach can be appropriated by preachers today. If you want to preach vividly, like Watson did, this book is priceless.
- Reformed Preaching: Proclaiming God’s Word from the Heart of the Preacher to the Heart of His People, Joel R. Beeke
This large volume is all about reaching not only the minds of listeners, but also their hearts. It’s solid on the theology of preaching, as well as on the practice. It’s grounded in Scripture, however it also works extensively with church history. If you’re going to read this one, also read the next one – they overlap a little bit, but also complement one another beautifully.
- Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship, John Piper
Few people ever think about preaching as an act of worship. But Piper convincingly argues from Scripture that both the giving and receiving of preaching are worship. Then he shows how thinking about it that way makes a huge difference. As with Beeke’s book, this one gets to the heart matters and also stresses the urgency of the preacher’s task. I’ve read numerous Piper books and this is one of his best.
- Truth Applied: Application in Preaching, Jay Adams
I read this back in seminary, over one of my summer breaks. More than any other book, it impressed upon me the need to have preaching that aims to change hearts and lives. Even if you disagree with Adams’ approach to counselling, there’s a lot to glean from what he’s written about preaching.