Book Review

I want to talk a little about the little authors of the book Power in the Pulpit. Dr. Jerry Vines served as the pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida from 1982 until he retired in 2006. He also attended at Mercer University, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and Luther Rice Seminary. Vines served as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1988-1989. Dr. Jim Shaddix is a pastor for teaching and training at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL. He serves as a faculty member at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is also the author of The Passion-Driven Sermon. However, this book will enlighten us as we read through this book that is divided into three main areas. These areas are preparation for Exposition, The process of Exposition and The Presentation of the Exposition. These sections are a little lengthy and will be discussed in the following paragraphs in further detail. The main point of this book is to teach you the importance of how to write a great sermon. The book is to target the preachers that give sermons on Sundays. I will conclude with why we are to have efficient sermons.     The author’s purpose of writing of writing this book was to teach every new preacher that gets behind the pulpit on Sunday mornings. Every preacher must have some basic outline before the message can be of value to the audience. Today we can experience sermons that are dry and has no meaning to our lives. A preacher must be meaningful, and heart-felt that touches even that one person in the audience that needed to hear even one word to change their life. The author’s goal is to teach you the important sections of the book to give you the knowledge to preach a great message. Great messages grow churches and helps you along the way in your ministry. The writing of this book and the way it is written can be used by anyone who is in ministry. It is not just limited to the pulpit in the main sanctuary of the church but also in Youth Ministry, Children’s Ministry and even Outreach Ministries.  The writer has many areas that can be learned in the three main sections such as Defining the Task, Laying the Foundation and Developing the Preacher. All three of these areas will be broken down in detail for what they mean and how to prepare your sermon.     In the first section of the book, the author shows us that preaching is defined as the ideal philosophy of preaching. This philosophy is known as the foundation of the word of God as well as the worshipping of God. He says that is the pre-requisites for preaching, of course, it must go along with the calling of God and the anointing that one has. The preparation of the preacher is seen through the idea that one should be healthy, hard-working individual who is a good servant of the heart, mind, body. This is important because a preacher’s schedule is never-ending. We must be sure this is what our calling is from God. If it is then we will do great if it’s not, then we need to step back and re-evaluate what we believe our calling is from God. Throughout this first section, we see there are many requirements that make a great preacher.     The second section the author teaches us how to write out our great sermons. This section is like the meat of the sermon. It is known as the Process of Exposition and is the analysis of writing out our sermons. We are to write them out as a theme that is known as the process of theme unification. This is referred to as how well the text is presented to the church. This is the sections that teach us how to get the central idea, the proposition and the purpose. All the points made in this section are very effective in our sermon writing. Then we have the structure section which teaches us the concepts like the keyword method.  Also in this section, the writer tells us that as preachers we need to not just preach the bible but to add relevance to our sermons. This keeps the audience’s attention and to keep them engaged. Another great point the writer points out is that we as preachers need to be observant of the culture that is in the church and to learn about the culture. As the preacher gets to the end of the message he will learn how to transition into the closing message or known as the invitation to salvation.     In section three we find that the author teaches on the presentation of the message. In this section, we deliver the message. We take all the development in the first two sections, which includes the analysis, research, purpose, invitation and deliver it to the audience. It is basically teaching us to communicate our thoughts on to paper for a smooth transition. When we learn how to put our thought to paper we are efficient in communicating and engaging with the congregation or our audience. The author makes it clear that we are to have visuals in our sermons so that the audience will connect to the story or the scripture being preached on. This will be a little harder in the beginning because a new preacher may not know his audience like a preacher that has been behind the pulpit for a few years. As we get to the point that we are good with writing the sermon, we must read and re-read the sermon to make sure that it flows, the audience understands and that we don’t have too many personal testimonies or our family in the sermon. The author achieved his purpose by giving excellent detail in the three areas of the book. He explains the importance of great sermons through instructional steps that include preparing and delivering the message to the audience. The author has one concern and that is for everyone who is called to ministry that they are prepared and qualified in the best way to have great outcomes in their sermons. I also see that the author breaks everything down to even the smallest detail that a beginner can understand. He helps the beginner to understand that the final sermon must communicate the truth and relate to the contemporary audience. He conveys that a lot of the sermons that are written can be like lectures and this is the wrong way to address the sermon because it will be boring. There should be an emphasis placed on the text as well as the application. The author says that as we write our sermons we must first decide how the scripture fits into the book based on the context. This practice will help us as sermon writers come to one main truth from the scripture within the book. The one thing I could have seen more of was the role of the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is a huge influence in our lives. The Holy Spirit plays a positive role in our weekly sermons. The Holy Spirit has the capability of reaching deep into people lives through ministry. The strengths I saw in the book were that the authors offered the approach to all pastors can create a solid sermon that will capture their audience ever service. There are many times that we hear in a sermon that the pastors move away from the disciplined study of the text within the Scriptures.  However, “the method mentioned in Power in the Pulpit allows the expositor to follow a step-by-step outline for accomplishing this task.”  The examples that were given in the book were a big help in understanding what needs to be done to be a great sermon writer. The authors also portray that “more profit will be realized by a systematic, book-by-book approach” and that this is the best approach to preaching a message. The author’s biggest weakness in the book is the fact that there is very little emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit in the process of writing exposition sermons.  They did, however, give an abundance of information of how to write exposition, with little reference to the expositor that must depend on the Holy Spirit.  The writer is only able to experience true power in the pulpit when the Spirit is upon him and that he has been called to that role.  I wished the authors would have explored and elaborate on the emphasized role of the Holy Spirit more in the process. The section on the structure of sermons begins well but gets a little bogged down in detail by the end of this section. My opinion of the book is that it was full of awesome information and how to analysis, to place your thoughts on paper and to write effective sermons. Another excellent point the book makes is that there are step by step instructions to follow. These two authors give so much encouragement that any new pastor or one that has been doing it for a while can appreciate this book and what it has to offer. In the last chapter or two is written for those that have a strong calling as a pastor and that truly comes from the heart of the person. In the end, we just have to sit back take a deep breath and relax because this book it the go-to book for the teaching it has for pastors