Book Notices -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 15:2 (Fall 1994)
Article: Book Notices
Author: Anonymous

Book Notices

Practical Theology/Homiletics

Miller, Calvin. The Empowered Communicator. Nashville: Broadman, 1994.

As classic expositors some Trinity Journal readers will have sharp differences with Calvin Miller. Nevertheless, The Empowered Communicator will make an enduring contribution to our pulpit effectiveness.

Many of us are indifferent to the importance of building rapport with our audiences before launching into our texts. We sometimes fail to convince them of the necessity of this sermon. As a result we never really win their attention. In our enthusiasm for propositional truth we may neglect the influence of story on contemporary listeners. Have you ever preached on, blind to the reaction—or the lack of response—in the pews?

Here’s a book to stimulate you on the growing edge. Always engaging in his style, Miller offers fresh, cogent insights into the preaching event.

Ted Olsen

McDill, Wayne. The 12 Essential Skills for Great Preaching. Nashville: Broadman, 1994.

Operating on the assumption that preachers and aspiring preachers can actually improve in their preaching and taking aim at “fuzzy thinking” (“the great fault of preaching”), McDill offers treatment of twelve specific skills which, when mastered, will significantly strengthen the clarity and impact of pulpit ministry. Essentially a sermon preparation methodology, Skills for Great Preaching proceeds by means of a rather thorough description of what exactly is to be done when one sits at one’s desk during the week. The description is complete with worksheets, one for each “skill.” It is clear throughout the book that the instruction is coming from one who has been inside the task and knows both the way and the pitfalls.

While the thoroughness of the suggested method is quite helpful, something else gets lost in the heavy systematization. Preaching certainly has its craft dimensions but a sense of the higher artfulness of preaching is missing from this book. The method suggested guarantees proper sermons but it also portends soulless ones. Despite the need for rigor and systematic preparation, in the final analysis, “great preaching” is not a function of method.

Granted, it is hard to be inspiring in a methodology for sermon preparation. McDill’s work is valuable in its plodding thoroughness. It does a yeoman’s work in what it attempts and is to be praised for its commitment to careful exegesis of biblical texts as the foundation for preaching. The 12 Essential Skills for Great Preaching would serve well, though not alone, as an introductory text in homiletics.

Michael ...

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