One of my favourite childhood books was How do they do that? The Discovery Channel took the same idea and made it into a TV programme called How do they do it? The Internet has its own howstuffworks.com. These and other similar books, programmes, and web sites tap into our natural human curiosity. We want to know what lies behind the surface, what led up to the discovery, what makes what.
How Sermons Work is a ‘How do they do that?’ about preaching. If it was a web site, we would call it howsermonswork.com. I’ve written it for four audiences. First, it is for seminary students who want a short practical guide on how to prepare and preach a sermon. They will read the classic books on preaching theory and practice as they continue their studies, but their ‘practise preaching’ class is looming and they desperately need a helping hand to get started. Here it is.
Second, the book is for elders. The material was originally prepared to help elders who were being asked to preach in various settings. I wanted to give these men a simple step-by-step guide to help them to prepare sermons in an efficient, enjoyable and edifying way. I’ve expanded the material since then to help more elders become more ‘able to teach’ (1 Tim. 3:2).
Third, I hope that even experienced preachers might pick up a crumb or two by reading this brief ‘refresher.’
Fourth, although the book is about ‘How sermons work,’ I’ve written it so that the vast majority of the material will be relevant and helpful to anyone who has to prepare a Bible message (e.g. for Sunday schools, Bible studies, etc.). So it is not just for preachers.
In fact, maybe above all I want non-preachers to read this book. Given that the most important hours in a Christian’s week are the one or two hours they spend listening to their pastor’s sermons, I find it surprising how few Christians are interested in ‘How do they do that?’
Some people seem to think that pastors ‘receive’ their messages direct from God. They imagine some mysterious process by which the pastor just ‘gets’ a sermon. That is too high a view of preaching. It views preachers more like angels than ordinary mortals. I want to show that, just like any other work, there is a reasonable and logical method and system to follow.
Others think that a pastor just spends the week relaxing, gets up on a Sunday, and says the first thing that comes into his mind with little or no forethought or planning. That is too low a view of preaching. Anyone with a bit of verbal fluency could do it. I want to demonstrate that behind the thirty to forty-five minutes you see and hear on a Sunday morning are many hours of mental, spiritual and practical labour. Like all pastoral labor, it involves head, heart and hand.
So, if you want to increase respect for your pastor and his preaching, ask, ‘How do they do that?’ Then read this book and find out the answer.
It’s due out early August, but you can pre-order it right now through Reformation Heritage Books at $5 and various UK outlets too.
Jul 17, 2011 • By David Murray • 2 Comments
First six months of the Morning and Evening schedule in Word.
Jul 15, 2011 • By David Murray • 3 Comments
Dr. Ralph Nichols says at the end of a 10-minute lecture most college freshmen will have retained only half of it. Then, 48 hours later they will have forgotten half of what they did remember.Of course my students don’t need to read this but….here are ten ways to listen to boring lectures.
Jul 14, 2011 • By David Murray • 5 Comments
I’ll give more details about this next week, but thought I would let you know about some pre-publication pricing on my new book, How Sermons Work which is being published by Evangelical Press. Should be back from the printers around the first week of August.Reformation Heritage Books have it for sale at $5 (RP $10) and in the UK various retailers have it available for under 6 GBP.
Jul 14, 2011 • By David Murray • 2 Comments
Over the past few days we’ve been looking at how God answers “Give us this day our daily bread” by graciously providing food for our bodies, food for our minds, and even food for our emotions. But, of course, the author of this prayer also knew that as man cannot live by bread alone, He would one day stand before starving souls and say, “I am the bread of life” (Jn. 6:35).Necessary food
Unlike many foods, bread is not an optional luxury. For most of us it is a basic necessity of life. Similarly, Jesus is not an optional extra. He is essential and indispensible. Universal food
Different cultures and different classes have different diets and digestive abilities. But one thing common to almost all of them is bread. As Jesus said, He was not just bread for Israel, but “the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (Jn. 6:33). Daily food
Some foods are rare, others occasional, and others seasonal; but we need and eat bread every day of our lives. Can we (dare we) go a day without Jesus? Do you reserve Jesus for special occasions and seasons? Or do you daily feed upon Him by faith. Healthy food
Many foods are unhealthy and damaging, but bread imparts, nourishes, and sustains life. Ordinary bread gives life for a day or two, but Jesus said that, “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (Jn. 6:51). Satisfying food
Some sugary foods allay hunger quickly – but briefly. Most salads wouldn’t fill a fly (just kidding). But the bread of life satisfies our deepest hunger – our hunger for forgiveness, for purpose, for intimate friendship, for life after death. In a day of instant gratification but lasting hollowness we need soul-satisfying bread. Gifted food
As sinful beggars who have forfeited the right to even one crumb of bread, we are dependent on God’s giving (not paying) of daily bread for our bodies, minds, emotions, and souls. Notice how many times in John 6 Jesus describes Himself as the bread given by God or sent by God. God has not just dropped a few crumbs from His heavenly table that we have to scramble for. He has opened the richest storehouse of heaven and given us His best bread.
May we respond as hungry souls did in Jesus day: “Lord, evermore give us this bread” (Jn. 6:34).