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Excellence in Preaching

By Simon Vibert
June 2012 | Review by Ali McLachlan

Synopsis

What makes some preaching gripping - unforgettable even? What can we learn from the best preachers? How can we appreciate great preaching, often at the click of a mouse, without devaluing the role of the local church minister? 'Without creating a guru mentality, I focus on one positive aspect from each preacher and offer hints on how other preachers might emulate them.' says author Simon Vibert. He also looks at the Bible's own take on good preaching, and focuses on the exemplary models of Jesus and Paul. This is not a how-to manual, nor a biblical theology of preaching, nor even a critique of the subjects. Rather, it is a focus on modern-day practitioners, from whom all preachers can form a composite picture of excellence, and from whom all preachers would do well to learn.

  • Publisher: IVP
  • ISBN: 978-1-84474-519-7
  • Pages: 174
  • Price: 8.99
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Book Review

Excellence in Preaching

Simon Vibert

IVP

174 pages , £8.99

ISBN: 978-1-84474-519-7

Star Rating: 2

 

Simon Vibert (Wycliffe Hall, Oxford) writes with a commendable goal: riveting preaching. His book admires Jesus’ communication style, and that of twelve popular preachers, known to any downloader of internet sermons. Speakers across the UK/US ecclesiastical spectrum (e.g. Piper, Driscoll, Tice, Gumbel and Dever) are introduced with a quick biography. Their preaching is analysed and lessons are gleaned.

      Technical tips, such as ‘anticipate objections’, ‘be economical and precise’, and ‘use simple, clear illustrations’ are helpful pointers to new preachers. Sermon surfers have their palettes educated too. Style tips, such as ‘preach for a verdict’, ‘be passionate and urgent’, ‘create intrigue’ and ‘evangelize all the time’ are also largely useful. Yet cultural tips like ‘illustrate…from contemporary media’, ‘tell memorable one-liners’, ‘speak to the felt needs of the wider society’, ‘be a people person’ and ‘allow your vulnerability to show’ will generate debate among preachers, students and congregations alike. The debate is how to apply the word of God to our nation today. This book’s contribution to that debate should be read with discernment.

      Certainly, all preachers must imitate the astonishing preaching of their Master. Our talents and imagination should drive our sermons to reach people with God’s saving and sanctifying truth. My copy contains underlining of helpful quotes, useful ideas and memorable summaries. This lively book attempts to engage those who would reach an internet generation. Observational learning is valuable, from some preachers more than others.

      This is a short book but there is some unqualified discussion of critical theology left hanging with no conclusion. The mystery of the combination of preacher, Word and Spirit is left mysterious. Also the cultural debate which is provoked produces two questions: 1. Can our spiritually weak generation adequately define excellent preaching with the measure of popularity? and  2. Can excellence in preaching be attained without an emphasis on personal holiness and prayer?

 

Ali McLachlan,

Grace Baptist Partnership Scotland

 

 

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