Thursday, November 10, 2016

Book Review The Witness of Preaching

Preaching is not an easy task, trust me. After preaching Sunday after Sunday, week after week, month after month, year after year I still find it challenging. I am relieved Sunday afternoon but Monday morning I pick up my Bible again and wonder what I will say the following week. It never ends. Now, it's not all that bad, but I would love to preach every other week or maybe every third week just to let me hear a sermon once in a while rather than always have to deliver one.

For pastors like me who are life-long learners you will enjoy Tom Long's classic book for preaching; The Witness of Preaching (Westminster John Knox, 2016) which is now in its third edition.

I came across the name Tom Long a while after seminary and read a few of his articles and sermons in The Christian Century Magazine. I never had the chance to take one of his classes or seminars but I was lucky enough to hear him preach at a local preaching conference, boy was he good. When he walked into that pulpit I felt that this man knew what he was talking about. His age, together with his many years of teaching and preaching gave him the authority to say, "Thus says the Lord..." I don't remember exactly what he said and that doesn't matter, it was years ago, but what stuck with me was the power of his delivery, his poise in the pulpit, and his booming voice in Wait Chapel at Wake Forest Divinity School.

Most of what I learned about preaching was done piecemeal, a conference here or there and several bookshelves of books which I have read and re-read. This classic book newly revised provides the pastor with food for thought as we continue to proclaim the word of God.

Long tackles the basics such as delivery, the do's and don'ts of crafting a sermon, as well as honesty and vulnerability in the pulpit. I also enjoyed the several sermon selections that are included in the back of the book and which Long actually dissects and exegetes for his readers. It is like watching a play-by-play commentary by the famous football commentator John Madden. Long is there with you in your seat reviewing and commentating on a sermon showing you the good and the not so good of the sermon. I appreciated that very much and would have liked to see several more included in the book.

For those of you who would like a preaching refresher or who never encountered Tom Long before I encourage you to pick up and read The Witness of Preaching, you won't be disappointed.

For more information about The Witness of Preaching click here