Book Review by
I have never met a pastor who did not want to preach the Word of God better than he does. I have met many, however, who want to preach better, but have no idea where to start. A return to the classroom is not practical, and the many textbooks available require a monstrous time commitment to work through.
Into this niche comes Daniel Overdorf’s book “One Year to Better Preaching: 52 Exercises to Hone Your Skills,” published by Kregel Ministry. Packed into these 320 pages are weekly, bite-size suggestions to strengthen one’s skills as a preacher.
Overdorf uses the image of honing an edge.” His presentation is encouraging to the reader: Rather than addressing his audience as if they are bad preachers, he puts forward how to sharpen the strength that is already there.
The book speaks to eight major areas in sermon preparation: prayer and preaching, Bible interpretation, understanding listeners, sermon construction, illustration and application, word crafting, the preaching event (presentation/environment) and sermon evaluation. Rather than taking those in clumps, the exercises are spread out across these areas throughout the year. One week will tackle prayer and the next evaluation, for example, though Overdorf provides a chart to allow readers to focus on one area if that is their need.
The exercises presented in “One Year to Better Preaching” are all useful, though one’s mileage will vary depending on his needs. Some will require trust in one’s congregation, as many pastors may fear creating a feedback group in their church. Consider, though, that congregations evaluate their pastors’ preaching every week anyway. Overdorf’s exercise is simply to harness and guide that energy.
“One Year to Better Preaching” also presents additional resources that add value to the text. These are varied. Some are books suggested for deeper study, others are Web resources to view and some are forms that can be utilized. Especially helpful is the link for a congregational feedback form.
While it might not be the best gift for a pastor, many pastors will benefit from Daniel Overdorf’s “One Year to Better Preaching: 52 Exercises to Hone Your Skills.”
Doug Hibbard is pastor of First Baptist Church, Almyra.