Review: How Sermons Work
How Sermons Work by David Murray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Murray writes a clear and brief summary of what makes a good sermon tick.
He touches all the bases: the preacher's piety, the kind of text, how to engage the text, the kind of sermon, organizing, introducing, applying the material, and finally presenting the sermon. Some may complain he doesn't cover each adequately, but the point was to be brief and he does capture the essentials.
This was an excellent refresher course for me, after my first 10 years or so of preaching.
I especially enjoyed the last chapter and section on plainness. Don't use too much material, too many words, too many long words, too many long sentences, too much logic, too many quotes, too much doctrine. There's a difference between a shallow sermon for babes needing milk, a plain sermon that serves up meat, but well seasoned, cooked and cut, and a dense sermon that's just avoiding being shallow but plops a huge hunk of raw meat on the plate. Look, it isn't shallow!
One quibble: the author tends to assume the sermon will be based on one or two verses. I tend to preach longer texts.
Murray also balances well the work of exegesis with the piety of the preacher. A love for the Word and the people goes a long way to a good sermon, but you can't rely only on that with no study and thinking.
Please pray for your pastor during the week, that his daily study would be fruitful come Sunday.
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