Books on preaching are legion. When a new book on preaching comes out there are usually two questions that I ask. Is the author a respected voice whose pulpit ministry makes me interested in what he has to say about preaching? Or is the author making a unique contribution to the field of literature? Preaching?: Simple Teaching on Simply Preaching by Alec Motyer falls into the first category. Having devoured several of his commentaries, I was excited to hear his approach to preaching and his thoughts on preparation in particular.
The first few chapters are a short introduction to preaching and a theological discussion of what preaching is. The last two-thirds of the book takes the reader on a tour of how to prepare to preach from examining the passage through developing illustrations. There were three takeaways for me from Preaching?.
Alec Motyer says that the first and most basic task of the preacher is “to understand each word, sentence and verse in a passage, each section of a narrative or book.” In doing so, he puts the preacher under the authority of God’s word and directs the preacher to begin with the Bible. He believes that the preacher is called not to come to the Bible with a sermon in search of a text. Instead, he comes to the text ready to hear what it has to say and to shape the sermon from that.
In the same chapter I benefited from his discussion of how he keeps up with his notes. “My original single loose-leaf notebook (when I was working on expositions of 2 Timothy in 1964) has grown into about 250 notebooks, a continuing resource for sermon preparation (and also a quick ‘refresher course’ alongside daily Bible reading). Record everything, lose nothing, whether from concordances and commentaries, from your own thinking, or from listening to other peoples’ sermons. Bend everything to the task of an accurate, thought-out understanding of the Word of God.” This is a reminder to those who preach that we need to keep what we have been studying either written down or saved somewhere. You do not want to lose the hours that you have spent researching a passage.
Finally, Alec Motyer’s chapter on presentation is worth the price of the book. Coming from years of experience with expositional preaching, he walks through the options for presenting memorable outlines and varying styles of doing so in order to make our preaching memorable. The advice that he offers at the end needs to be heard by all who preach. There must be a back room and a show room. The preacher must study so that there is a back room full from study, prayer, and meditation. The proper material is then brought out from the from the back room and placed in the show room in a manner that helps people understand and experience change.
Preaching? by Alec Motyer serves well as an introduction to preaching for those who are new and as a helpful refresher for those who are more experienced. His years of experience and wisdom shine throughout this volume. It will be of great benefit to those who will read it.
(I received a copy of this work through the Cross Focused Review program in exchange for an honest review.)
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