Thursday, August 5, 2010

Book Review: Bryan Chapell, Christ Centered Preaching

27987: Christ-Centered Preaching, 2nd Edition Christ-Centered Preaching, 2nd Edition

By Bryan Chapell / Baker

This complete guide to expository preaching teaches the basics of preparation, organization, and delivery; the trademarks of great preaching. With the help of charts and creative learning exercises, Chapell shows how expository preaching can reveal the redemptive aims of Scripture and offers a comprehensive approach to the theory and practice of preaching. He also provides help for special preaching situations.

The second edition contains updates and clarifications, allowing this classic to continue to serve the needs of budding preachers. Numerous appendixes address many practical issues.

I often read or re-read books that are older and wonder if it is worth it to post a review of a book that has been out for a number of years. I just finished revisiting this book, Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell, and decided that even though it isn’t brand new it is worth sharing.

I read this book (and a couple others) some years ago because I wanted to get more information on how preachers prepared and delivered sermons. I was bothered at the time (and still am) by the overuse of rhetorical devices in many of the sermons that I heard from a wide range of pulpits and wanted to know more about how preachers were trained to deliver their sermons.

In the years since reading those books I have had the humbling privilege of delivering a number of sermons of my own and realizing that I may likely have other opportunities I wanted to revisit some of those sources with a more practical focus this time around. I remembered that I thought the Chapell book was pretty good so I purchased the 2nd edition and just finished it.

It is a well organized textbook but it also flows well and is quite readable. There are lots of good examples and insightful descriptions that I thought were helpful. It is quite extensive in its coverage of issues related to preaching, preparation, and delivery of sermons and addressed just about every issue on the subject you can think of.

In my opinion, however, the most valuable lesson in the book is Chapell’s teaching on what he calls the Fallen Condition Focus. He reminds preachers that the purpose of the sermon goes beyond simply imparting information. He encourages them to identify the human concerns that the hearers will share with the people in the text (or to those whom it is addressed). In this way the preacher can draw the main points out of the text in a faithful expository sermon while also directly addressing the application of those truths to a relevant experience in the lives of listeners. He reminds his readers that “It is too easy to preach on a doctrinal topic or an exegetical insight without considering the spiritual burden of the text for real people in the daily struggles of life.” The application portion of the sermon shouldn’t be simply tacked onto the end of the exegesis as if it were an afterthought. The power of the sermon is in its application of God’s Truth to the lives of God’s people. His explanation of this was worth the price of the book for me.

I recommend the book to anyone who desires to learn the basics of formal sermon preparation and delivery. Much of what is in the book is practical but Chapell also discusses the theology of preaching in ways that challenge the reader to think about the role and task of preaching in ways that they might not have before.

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