Monday, April 13, 2009

Book Recommendation -- Preaching with Freshness -- Bruce Mawhinney

A shorter post for a very wet and rainy Monday here in my neck of the woods and it appears that we will have much more before the day is over with.

Sometime back I gave several lists of books particularly related to those who are ministers that are in an active preparation for preaching on a weekly basis. You can read these posts by following the links below:

A Book List For Sermon Preparation

A Reading List by E. E. Jolley

A Reading List for the Minister’s Personal Growth


There was one book that I mentioned that I am choosing to do a much more in-depth review of. It was published in 1997 by Kregel Publications and is still being reprinted and available in most Christian bookstores. Preaching with Freshness by Bruce Mawhinney is an excellent little book (258 pages) that is more along the lines of a novel than a technical book on preaching. It tells the story of a pastor who has been preaching for 10 years and has allowed his preaching to go flat and now the folks are complaining about it. Now is another good opportunity to insert a quote from J. R. Ensey that I continue to hear rattle around in my head on occasion. “Poor preaching is a heavy cross for a church to have to bear!” Brother Ensey mentioned this more than 15 years ago and it has stuck with me.

Pastor Paul Andrews is making his church drag around a very heavy cross and is feeling the pressure from it. As you read this book, if you have been preaching for any length of time, you will relate to the struggles and pressures that this book addresses. Luckily Paul Andrews happens to run into Dr. Vickerson who taught him in seminary.

As they renew their friendship and catch up on old times, Paul bares his soul to the old preacher. Dr. Vickerson rises to the challenge and helps Paul breath some “freshness” back into his preaching. It is a very good story and you will find a number of solid principles that will be very useful to you.
I am listing some of the chapter titles to give you an idea of what the book is about.

The Preacher’s One Business -- Focus in on the giant but extremely important purpose of preaching.

The Importance of Starting Early -- Planning your week. Most preachers are not even aware of how much time they waste until they track their week. Just as a budget will show where your money is going, if you are willing to track your time you will see where time is getting away from you.

Rifles and Shotguns -- The importance of a clear purpose aimed carefully at its target.

Jonah Snoring -- Using “non-dictionary” sounds to enliven preaching.

Surprise Power -- Tapping into the power of the surprising statements in Scripture.

Reservoir Power -- A reservoir of Scripture, scholarship, and prayer. Study that goes beyond week-to-week preparation. The importance of studying the sermons of powerful preachers.

Light From Fog -- What do you mean by what you said? The worthy art of making an application to what you are conveying in the message.

Here are some random quotes from throughout the book:

The Prince of Darkness will have you running here and there doing a thousand good little works in order to keep you from doing those two important works: prayer and the ministry of the Word.


Often those who hold a high view of God’s Word mistakenly think they don’t need to do the diligent work of preparation. They just throw out the message to the people in whatever form it first comes to them.

Attack early and attack daily! Each day will add more input and energy to your message. All week long you will be filling up your reservoir, not draining it.

As time goes by a certain smoothness comes with the experience of the years. That smoothness has a more professional sound to it, but it may also bring with it a certain dullness.

Jesus accented particular truths and set them apart in memorable form. Even if the crowd or the disciples didn’t immediately grasp what He was saying, they would remember His words long after He had spoken them.

Shallow and shoddy preaching is one reason so many immature believers are desperate for counseling. If they were being motivated each week by strong inspiring preaching they wouldn’t get into so many messy situations.


Experience the exhilaration that comes from discovering the deep hidden treasures of God’s Word, treasures that cannot be unearthed by a half-hearted effort using a child’s toy shovel.


In addition in the back of the book there is a very valuable checklist for preaching with freshness. To the man who might choose to do so, there is an outline for a seminar that could be given.

All-in-all this is worth the $10 you will pray for it. I have a feeling that you probably could round it up from an on-line used book source at a much cheaper price.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

One of my all-time favorite books! I've read it three times, and I think that it is about time I read it again; in fact, I was just thinking about this book last week.

Blessings,

T. R. Kelley

Me and My Thoughts said...

Sounds like a great book. Kudos for the review! Looks like I know what book is next on the list....

Phil LaRue said...

A great book filled with practical advice for the preacher. I've read it several times. Thanks to your post I'm going to read it again.

Thanks,

Phil LaRue

Anonymous said...

All who deliver the word of God should definitely read this book. Pastors should read, reread, and consume the contents of this book in its entirety. Traditional preaching will not attract, interest, or hold the attention of today's society. Yesteryear's illustrations must die! We are not ministering to the same clientele that we ministered to years ago. Mawhinney offers a solution to reaching the masses of today. I have read this book twice within a six month period. I have given 6 copies of this book as gifts within this same period. I just ordered 4 more copies.